In 2000, nine women in Khayelitsha, Cape Town’s biggest township, sat together and asked themselves a number of questions regarding what needed to be done in order to combat HIV and AIDS in their community. They were looking for a gap they could help fill.
One question was – Who is doing something about the orphans created by South Africa’s AIDS pandemic? No one had an answer, so they decided to start a project that would focus on children affected by AIDS.
The women named their project Khumbulani – Xhosa for “You must remember” – and started it in a small house in Khayelitsha’s I Section, helping children – up to six years in age – in that area. Now they look after no less than 152 children, from J, H, F and G Sections as well – in fact, from all areas of Khayelitsha – and help numerous parents, too.
These women realised that AIDS was not just visiting their township, it iwas there to stay. (Khayelitsha has a population of 500,000; some estimates put the HIV infection rate at 33%.) Khumbulani provides support and advice to caregivers and families with HIV-positive babies, and assists families who cannot cope with the costs involved in bringing up the children. Some of the parents who get help are really sick themselves, and not working, in which case the women foster the children into their homes – especially during weekends, or when the children’s parents have to go to the hospital.
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Three years into the project, Khumbulani started a support group for those who live with HIV/AIDS, which meets almost every day, and involves counselling from volunteer social worker from the city’s Department of Social Services. Those who attend also get training in home-based care and AIDS education. The Khumbulani women are in the process of fund-raising for new projects, involving things like beadwork, sewing and gardening, so that those they help can find new ways of earning income.
They also have their own garden, where they grow vegetables to give out at the end of every month. Everyone at Khumbulani is a volunteer; with the help from the community, the project recently managed to get a bigger space, so as they could accommodate all their kids.
Khumbulani started as a small project, but had support from within its community, and so is growing as a true beacon of hope in Khayelitsha.
- Want to help? Contact Khumbulani through Ikamva Labantu.