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Young children with their caregiver

Taking care of the carers

Thogomelo means ‘caring’ or ‘taking care’ in Venda, one of South Africa’s 11 national languages. It is a fitting name for a project we co-managed that aims to care for and protect the Rainbow Nation’s vulnerable children by increasing the knowledge, abilities and wellbeing of those who are responsible for them.

Towering challenges

An estimated 2M children in South Africa have lost one or both parents to AIDS. They face challenges that tower above their years – an absence of parental protection, the burden of loss and grief, and heightened vulnerability to child abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Thousands of people have stepped up to volunteer in their communities to care for and protect orphans and other vulnerable children, but they often lack the skills to help them effectively and need emotional support themselves.

Sustainable solution

We partnered with PATH and the International HIV/ AIDS Alliance to design interventions that are cost efficient, sustainable, and relevant to tackling South Africa’s HIV crisis and the needs of people living in poverty. The Thogomelo project maintains a dual focus on delivering child protection training and psychosocial support to community caregivers. We helped to draw up three nationally accredited skills development programmes, incorporating exemplar training practices, and develop the capacity of training service providers.

Enduring outcome

The five year project was extended by three years, and then for a further year, and is set to become an enduring part of South Africa’s child protection efforts now that the government has agreed to take over the project. In eight years the Thogomelo project has trained 3650 people. The wealth of training materials and learning aids produced can be accessed by providers across South Africa, and are applicable in any setting or country where there are community-based initiatives to support vulnerable children.

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