What We Do
Our community-based model focuses on supporting and empowering our Special Stars (orphans and vulnerable children) not just when they are little but when they leave school -we then call them our Rising Stars. We also support and empower the Guiding Stars (guardians and key mentors in the community).
In fact we want all our Stars to grow to be guiding stars to other Special stars. Through this we break the negative cycle of brokenness replacing it with this ongoing positive cycle of growth in individual lives, and also in communities, starting with Bhambayi.
Youth Worker Support
Our Special Stars are visited in their homes by youth workers who give love and support, identify and address issues, and help encourage them to unlock their potential.
Reports from each visit are discussed at weekly meetings. Youth groups and various other programmes and initiatives are co-ordinated by the youth workers and project team. Currently our 2 Special Star youth workers are only part-time, but we hope to grow this crucial form of support.
With youth unemployment amongst the highest in the world, our programmes cannot end when our Special Stars leave matric.
We equip and empower our 'Rising Stars' through assisting with tertiary studies, training, skills development and linkages to jobs. One of our key courses is the Outstanding Customer Service Course run by khula.africa – over 20 of our Rising Stars have obtained jobs through this programme. Our Rising Stars are supported by the youth workers and all meet regularly to learn and grow from each other.
We run a Maths Club every Friday afternoon with our Grade R-12 Special Stars (orphans) with approximately 100 children.
Maths averages in the schools nearby are below 30%! We are working with our children to improve these marks and build relationships with them at the same time. We have a number of helpers involved, including learners from schools in Durban. Advantage Learn sponsors a tablet support programme for our high-school children, as well as a part-time administrator. High school children meet every afternoon to work through online maths programmes. This has made a significant difference to their learning.
Life skills training and talent development are key to unlocking our Special Stars' potential and growing their self-confidence.
We have weekly youth groups to offer values and life skills training in.a fun way (Shine and Impact groups) and regularly have talent workshops in the holidays including drama, singing, art, poetry and dance. We have a dance team who have performed at many places, including the Playhouse and Moses Mabida Stadium, thanks to Jade and her team from City Celebration. We are growing our base of skilled individuals across various talents to link in with children who share their passions. Skills workshops are also run regularly to teach important life skills, as well as gender-based workshops due to the high prevalence of abuse, pregnancy and lack of male role models.
Two of our Maths Club girls have been awarded bursaries to Inanda Seminary, a girls' private school, due to their maths results.
The project is paying for the costs not covered by the bursary. We are looking for further sponsorship to be able to put forward other top achievers for bursaries.
Guardian support is crucial to the success of our community-based orphan support model. Abuse in the home often arises from the immense emotional stress that guardians face.
We have a youth worker focusing solely on the guardians, meeting them individually in their homes, getting them together in support groups and organising programmes, such as our Caregivers' Course. Many of our guardians are unemployed, so we are growing the opportunities for them to be able to work through sewing and farming to earn an income.
Early Childhood Development
Siyathuthuka Creche and Preschool is run by Lillian Mokoatle and has about 280 children attending.
We have helped rebuild parts of the crèche, supplied 4 prefab classrooms and provided much needed educational equipment and supplies. Our involvement depends on the availability and skills of volunteers. We spend time with assisting teachers and helping with the children (from educational games, to occupational therapy to helping with the babies).