Mamelani Projects empowers and strengthens marginalized communities by listening to the particular needs of women, youth and children. We facilitate programmes that build healthy communities by developing people.
1. COMMUNITY-BASED HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAMME:
There are some serious health challenges facing our country. There are many reasons that these health conditions remain: an under resourced health system, a lack of access to basic services such as clean and safe water, healthy food and lack of access to health care, to name a few. For Mamelani, the first step to being able to improve one's health is having the knowledge to make informed decisions about what steps to take. From our experience, most of the people we work with do not have the information they need to make informed decisions regarding their health, and this is why we are passionate about building health knowledge in marginalised communities.
The Community-based Health Education Programme
The purpose of the programme is to share essential health information with women to ensure they are able to make positive health choices for themselves and their families. This happens through workshops and individual consultations. The workshops cover a range of health topics including infectious diseases (HIV/Aids, TB and diarrhoea) as well as Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle (obesity, hypertension and diabetes). During the workshops, information is shared to improve health literacy regarding how to prevent, treat and manage different illnesses, including accessing health care on time, adhering to medication and maintaining optimal health through healthy eating. A particular focus has been placed on sharing information and support for HIV-positive mothers regarding feeding choice, in order to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child (PMTCT).
Mamelani reaches roughly 500 women through this programme annually. During 2011 Mamelani launched a HEALTH CHAMPIONS PROGRAMME empowering active community members through leadership programmes to strengthen their already exisiting community-based health interventions. There are 20 women in this programme.
“I see all these conditions in my community, but I don’t know what to do about them. Now I understand what I can do. Lack of Knowledge destroys people’s lives. The more you know, the more you can take action” - participant feedback.
2. YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME : SUPPORTING YOUTH IN TRANSITIONING OUT OF CARE
Due to poverty and abuse at home, all too many children in South Africa leave home and find themselves living on the street. Some are fortunate to find refuge in Children's Homes where they are cared for until they turn 18 when unfortunately the state withdraws their funding, effectively forcing these individuals to vacate the Children's Home and return to their communities. Young people face overwhelming challenges when they transition out of care including a lack of access to accommodation, lack of access to work opportunities and a lack of the many life skills necessary to cope with their difficult situations. Youth coming out of Children's Homes in particular, who do not have family or caregivers to advise and support them through this process, struggle to cope with the challenges they face. Many do not have support structures and struggle to access information relating to work opportunities, let alone have any income to cover the cost of the job-seeking process. Project Lungisela has developed innovative responses to support young people during this time so they are able to move into adulthood with the support, skills and resources they require to succeed in life.
Project Lungisela: Supporting youth transitioning out of care
Lungisela is the Xhosa word for "prepare" as this programme prepares young people, who have grown up in children's homes for the transition out of state care. This happens through personal development processes, life skills workshops, one-on-one mentoring, wilderness therapy camps, skills training, work readiness support, internships, job placement and accommodation support. The programme works with these young people for one year before they turn 18 and need to leave the Children's Home, and offers them on-going support once they have returned to the community. Without this level of support, many would return to lives on the street.
An estimated 50 young people are reached through the programme annually, receiving life skills, one-on-one mentoring, camps, education and accommodation support, as well as job opportunities.
“Project Lugisela is a powerful project that helped me and others to grow and be responsible for our lives. With all their support, I am now responsible for my life. I thank Project Lungisela and Mamelani for making me who I am today” - participant, now employed as a chef at the Cape Peninsula Hotel.
3. CHILD AND FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAMME:
Many of the poorest inhabitants of the Western Cape live in informal settlements on the outskirts of Cape Town. For decades, many people living within these settlements have not accessed education and many remain unskilled, resulting in widespread unemployment and poverty, which manifests as apathy and substance abuse in the community. Alcohol and drug abuse leads to conflict within families and resulting high levels of trauma and stress for adults and children living in these overcrowded homes.
Children living under these conditions experience the harsh realities of poverty and the associated problems of crime, HIV/Aids, substance abuse and neglect on a daily basis. Living in situations where there is little or no income, adult supervision or access to basic education or support services, many young people suffer from low self-esteem and have great difficulty developing a sense of self-worth and purpose. These circumstances place them at risk of being abused and exploited and extremely vulnerable to the lure of gangsterism and crime. Many young people who find themselves in these situations drop out of school.
The Child and Family Support Programme
The objective of the programme is to provide emotional and material support to vulnerable school-going children who are struggling either socially, emotionally and/or academically. Learners who are seen to be struggling are called in to see the social worker. In many cases, the children's issues are symptoms of problems at home. Family members are then called in to receive counselling.
Approximately 200 children and families receive counselling and support as a result of this programme.
"I am writing this letter to thank you for your help with my children. Since meeting you, my family is stronger than before. And for this, I will never forget you. I have gained deep knowledge about many things that I did not know before. Today, my future is bright because of you." feedback from parent.