SOWETAN toured Dukathole township on Tuesday after being invited there by Bambanani Home Based Care.

It is an impoverished area in Ekurhuleni of about 30000 people living on a 1,5km stretch of land.

Bambanani is an outreach programme of the St Boniface Anglican Church in Germiston. Father Don Thompson, who runs the parish, said the child section began a few years ago when a young father said he had been touched by pictures of starving children on TV. He asked if the church could do something for the children.

"Ekurhuleni Primary School teachers helped us to identify orphaned children. We started with 30 and now have 300 in our care," Thompson said.

In 2007 Bambanani started a day care centre for children and orphans affected by HIV-Aids. The crèche is situated on the same grounds as the home-based care centre, so the children have access to medical care and food.

"We have a soup run on Wednesdays when parishioners give soup, samp and fruit to housebound patients," Thompson said.

"There is a separate feeding scheme run from Ekurhuleni Primary School by Victor Matshikiza, a retired principal and congregant.

"There are many granny- and child-headed households who benefit from the scheme."

Other churches in the area also help with donations.

The project helps with clothing, wheelchairs, where possible, walkers, identity documents and grants.

Matshikiza and his assistant Patience Masisa are child advocates who identify vulnerable children, and secure assistance for those with special needs and for those who have been abused.

"The support-a-child scheme asks sponsors to give R85 a month per child for food. This provides three meals a day.

"Some sponsors make enquiries now and then and send gifts at Christmas. They are upset if we tell them that the child has moved to another area."

Bambanani has been extended to Good Hope and Makouse.

"We have a small church in the former mining town. It is surrounded by the squatter camp," Thompson said.

"We are hoping to turn it into a day care centre and safe area for the children."