Even with anti-retroviral therapy, there are millions of children in South Africa who have lost their parents. We need to provide these children with care so that they have the chance to grow into responsible adults who are capable of feeling for others and contributing to society.
Valoyi is a multi-purpose centre for children affected by AIDS and their caregivers in Nwamitwa, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
A model of how we can do this has been pioneered in Nyanga, a township outside Cape Town. Almost 30% of the local population in Nyanga is infected with the HI Virus. The aim of the Etafeni Trust was to build capacity in the local community in Nyanga – as well as operating a multi-purpose day care centre to sustain and support the community in their holistic care for children and caregivers affected by AIDS.
A group of local unemployed men and women were trained as builders: making blocks, digging the foundations, laying the floor slabs, building, plastering and painting the walls of the centre. They received wages as well as learned a new skill. Most of the builders later found work in the commercial construction sector.
The Centre offers a spectrum of services: a preschool, a vegetable garden (for producing food for the centre but also to train community members in food gardening), a nutrition programme, an AIDS Counsellor programme, income-generating activities (beadwork and sewing), supervised homework and afterschool care, the 'Fit for Life, Fit for Work' programme for unemployed school leavers, a mobile VCT and TB-screening programme, the Greening Nyanga programme, two social workers for counselling, training facilities and space for rest and quiet.
The centre is beautiful but inexpensively built. White-washed walls, lawns, trees and skilled, loving “mothers” create a home from home for children affected by AIDS and their caregivers.
Hosi Nwamitwa II came to visit the Etafeni Centre in 2008 and asked the Etafeni Trust to replicate their model in Nwamitwa. When Etafeni’s funders agreed, work began in 2009 in Nwamitwa with the Fit for Life, Fit for Work programme. Young graduates from the Fit for Life programme entered learnerships in construction, agriculture and child care. They built the Valoyi Centre, started a food security project and staffed the children’s programmes at the Valoyi Centre.
Today, the Valoyi Centre has over 100 staff members and serves thousands of clients at the Centre and in Nwamitwa’s 43 villages.