Why Is the Programme Necessary?
The apartheid policies of the South African government profoundly affected traditional family structures of black South Africans. Labour policies separated black women and men from their families, resulting in generations of fragmented families. The legacy of apartheid continues to haunt the functioning of South African families, the majority of which live in poverty as a result of poor educational opportunities and unemployment. Food insecurity, substance abuse and violence are widespread and threaten the unity of families and the wellbeing of children. With unemployment rates as high as 40%, thousands of families struggle to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and adequate housing. Adding to these daily challenges is a devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic which continues to destabilize millions of families.
Status and Objectives
While children are the primary focus of Afrika Tikkun, the quality of their lives are inextricably linked to the lives of the adults around them, whose circumstances and behaviour profoundly affect their welfare and well-being. We therefore found it imperative that any efforts to help children must be undertaken within the context of their family circumstances. The goal of the Family Support programme is to strengthen the family so as to allow for the optimal development of the child (ren). The key activities provided are:
a) Family Preservation and Parenting skills
Family preservation services are provided as a means to strengthen the family unit to ensure that children are raised in a balanced and healthy family environment. Issues addressed often include marriage counseling and management of substance abuse, life space counseling and parenting skills.
b) Grant Access
About half of the families that are eligible for government grants do not receive them. This programme assist identified families to obtain all the necessary documents so that they are able to access government grants. But the assistance does not stop here. Once a family receives a grant, Afrika Tikkun workers help families to create monthly budgets to ensure that they do not run out of money mid-month and are then unable to buy food.
c) Emergency Relief
The emergency relief programme provides assistance to families in crisis situations. This often includes shack renovations and provisions of food, clothing and household basics to families who have lost everything during times of natural disasters. Once the family unit has been stabilised, the programme help to strengthen the family through its development programmes, so that they are less vulnerable to any future crises.
d) Home-based Early Childhood Development (ECD)
The Home-Based Early ECD programme is targeted at training unemployed mothers to provide early childhood intervention to their young children and children of neighbours ensuring that they benefit from early exposure to numeracy and literacy. Owing to family poverty, these children are often excluded from formal preschool settings but through home-based ECD can still derive the same benefits in terms of school readiness.
Children and youth in the Afrika Tikkun system are physically and psychologically healthy and food secure within their households and communities.