One of the ways Inprova Energy is giving back to under-served communities is by sending a group of their enthusiastic employees to South Africa every year to help various orphanages in the Johannesburg area. This year, eight volunteers raised over £16,000 for the cause and spent a week working on various projects.
A new struggle
South Africa is often seen as one of the most developed countries in Africa, yet this belies a host of challenges which continue to plague the rainbow nation. Hangovers from the apartheid era include high unemployment (~25%), poor levels of literacy and numeracy, a backlog of basic housing and sanitation, and a high incidence of HIV/AIDS. With all these factors, it is perhaps not surprising, but still shocking, to learn that Unicef estimates the number of orphans in SA to be between 3.7 and 4 million (of a population of 55 million).
Our work focussed primarily on supporting orphanages and nurseries that receive little or no government funding with other projects including the building of a community centre and the painting of dilapidated houses in the surrounding communities.
We started the week by visiting the Winnie Mabaso orphanage where a large group of girls is being looked after by a handful of dedicated carers (http://www.winniemabaso.org/). For the rest of the week, most of our time was spent at the Khaya Centre (http://orangebabies.org.za/khaya-mount-olive) playing with the children, distributing donations of clothes, stationery and toys, and assisting with the regular food programmes. For the recipients who come to the centre, this is the only certain food they will eat.
Our work included a visit to Cool Cats nursery where a few unpaid women look after a large group of young children. The nursery looks after children of parents who can’t afford day care so the centre staggers along with whatever donations parents and anyone else can give. Cool Cats is being supported by the Footprints Foundation to provide basic services such that it can be registered for government funding thereby creating an income stream for this important community service.
The children at the centres are typically orphans of parents who have died from AIDS complications or have been handed over by parents who cannot afford to look after them. Some of the kids are HIV positive since treatment to prevent transmission during childbirth is often not available. The Khaya centre supports these children through its on-site clinic and full-time nurse, all paid for by donations raised by volunteers through the Footprints Foundation. The centre also ensures that the children take their anti-retrovirals so that the disease can be contained without further complications.
Our volunteers brought donations of clothing, undergarments and sanitary towels. Many of the local girls cannot afford female hygiene products and stay away from school during their menstrual cycle. The provision of these necessities means they feel comfortable to attend school and empower their futures. Our female volunteers also held a bra fitting clinic providing donated bras to ladies who lack such basic clothing. Recipients of these garments returned to their lives with renewed confidence and the centre workers informed us that in some areas, distribution of bras had even reduced the incidence of female assault in the community.
A sad reality
A shocking urban myth that perpetuates through Africa is that having intercourse with a virgin will cure HIV. Despite this falsehood, some people are desperate enough to believe it, so much so that they target young children. The centre is currently supporting victims of this horrific abuse with facilities that include a trauma room and trained personnel with access to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medication.
With so many challenges facing these communities, the centres we support are beacons of hope as well as places of refuge for children and older people alike. Inprova Energy will continue to work with the Footprints Foundation to improve the lives and prospects of these vulnerable people.
If you would like to make a donation, please go to our donation page: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/InprovaFootprints2019