Kimberly Vrudny

Ikamva Labantu

In Elderly, HIV/AIDS, Non-profits / NGOs, Senior Citizens, South Africa on August 10, 2010 at 3:00 am

For more than 30 years, Ikamva Labantu (“The Future of Our Nation”) has been involved in building up communities broken down by the brutalities of apartheid. Today, it is an umbrella non-profit, non-governmental organization supporting the social development of tens of thousands of people through more than 1,000 projects fitting under four broader foci: health intervention and food security; educational access; skills and enterprise development; and land and building provision. Ikamva Labantu builds and supports crèches (pre-schools), schools, senior centers, and youth centers. It provides skills training programs, and undertakes building initiatives. And, finally, it develops programs for the disabled, the elderly, and orphans.

It was the creativity behind Ikamva Labantu’s senior care program that first captured my attention. Recognizing the pressure that seniors were under, given increasing responsibilities to care for grandbabies even in the midst of mourning for children taken by a virus or by violence, on top of demands from family and from community for a portion of the small, monthly pension they receive from the government, Ikamva Labantu created a place for seniors to find rest and play, as well as support and encouragement. In a day at any of the seventeen senior centers that have been established in the Western Cape Province, visitors might find seniors enjoying a meal, visiting with friends, exercising their bodies, playing a game, making crafts, tending a vegetable garden, or attending special events. Additionally, the centers provide assistance for seniors who are completing applications for pensions, social services, or disability grants.

Proudly developing “solutions by South Africans for South Africans,” the organization emphatically strives to maintain community ownership and direction of its initiatives. This principle is easily seen in today’s senior centers. They are being transformed into “Integrated Activity Centers” where child-care facilities, after-school and sports programs, life skill training workshops, and guidance counseling are offered for the young ones who are living with their grandparents. The integrated approach provides support and relief to over-extended grandparents, simultaneously providing high-quality care for the children. The idea for this integrated approach grew out of the community, and has been implemented by an organization that is listening carefully to those it aims to serve.

Equally significant is Ikamva Labantu’s program for vulnerable children. With the assistance of a grant from Remgro, a South African Investment Holding Company, Ikamva Labantu launched a pilot program in 2006 in Philippi, an impoverished community outside of Cape Town, to develop a program that could be replicated in other parts of the country. Ikamva Labantu standardized a model of intervention for vulnerable children that supported 73 families caring for 271 children over seventeen months and for just over R5/day. The model, called Siyakathala (“We care” in Xhosa), involves no fewer than eight stages:

  1. Identifying children in the community through informal talks and referrals;
  2. Assessing needs through standardized interviews with the children and/or caregivers;
  3. Obtaining documentation of birth, parental death or proper identification for grant applications;
  4. Applying for grants;
  5. Caring for children by offering emotional support through grief and loss counseling as well as by supporting their education by the sponsoring of uniforms, stationary, and school fees;
  6. Supporting care givers by providing training and reliable information;
  7. Fostering independence by providing peer-support group facilitation and entrepreneurial development;
  8. Disengaging from families when they become independent, while remaining open to the possibility of providing future support should it become necessary.

Please support the work of Ikamva Labantu, if you are able. Among the organization’s unique opportunities to provide support is its “Adopt a Grandparent” program. For R150/month (approximately $20/month), you can support a Grannie’s transportation to the Center, as well as ensuring her a daily nutritious meal. Other opportunities for giving are outlined on Ikamva Labantu’s website:

Account Name: Ikamva Labantu Trust
Bank: First National Bank
Branch: Adderley Street, Cape Town, South Africa
Account Number: 62054752467
Branch Code: 250655
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ
Once you have completed the wire transfer, please e-mail the amount donated, your contact details, and the name of the program you are supporting to If the e-mail does not specify a particular program, Ikamva Labantu will allocate the funding according to its discretion.

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