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An uphill battle to feed kids

By Nthabisang Moreosele | May 20, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ETHEMBENI drop-in centre faces an uphill battle as the number of children it looks after continues to grow.

ETHEMBENI drop-in centre faces an uphill battle as the number of children it looks after continues to grow.

The centre began in 2008 with 38 orphaned and vulnerable children, but now it has to feed upwards of 340 in the neighbourhood.

The social services department only provides for 80 children and Ethembeni has to raise funds for the other 260.

Mama Angel dropped in with loads of goodies and food.

"We operate from Thathezakho Primary School," Gladys Siyothula, the founder and project manager, said.

"We do not have chairs or tables and we are sometimes late in serving meals because we only have a small three-plate stove. We cannot cook all the food at once.

"We provide pap, stew and two vegetables. We follow a diet we devised ourselves as most of the children are affected and infected with HIV-Aids. We have found out that the children eat one meal a day, if they are lucky.

"We have had to cut out the lunch box we prepared for high school pupils because of lack of funds. High school pupils do not qualify for the education department's subsidised food scheme yet their parents cannot afford to give them lunch money," Siyothula said.

Ethembeni has 37 staff members, who include auxiliary social workers and a poverty alleviator. The alleviator makes home visits to check if vulnerable children have an adult caretaker, if they receive grants and if they are registered at the clinic.

The centre has taken on 10 expanded work programme interns who get government stipends. There are also 10 unpaid volunteers.

"We raise funds in the township. We are going to host a function that will be organised by Temba Machaka, songbird Yvonne Chaka Chaka's son, this weekend. Machaka said he wanted to do something for his mother's birthplace. "We will ask the public for donations of tinned food," he said.

Siyothula said they tried to raise funds by setting up a car wash and cleaning dustbins.

"We bought R500 worth of cleaning materials, but did not get any support. Residents would not pay the R20 a month we charged for the dustbins. They would tell us to come back at the end of another month and so on.

"We sometimes get adult clothing, which we sell as it does not fit the children," Siyothula said.


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