Tough times for Thabang

The children of Thabang went for a day outing to the Kransberg Mountains in Marakele National Park during September. Entry was sponsored by the Park.

THABAZIMBI – The role of Thabang Youth and Child Care Centre in the community has been one of give and take during the five years since its inception in 2005. But lately it has battled to survive financially.

The financial support of mines and businesses has dwindled substantially since last year.  According to sponsors they are more inclined to back projects which will secure a regular income to NGO’s (non government organizations), the so-called income-generating-projects. For example, if land is obtained and some infrastructure developed which is made available to customers for a fee, a regular income will be created for the NGO. Another possibility is the development of a business, of which the profit will go into the NGO.

Backing this kind of project means that a sponsor will have the hope that the money it invests, will ultimately start working for itself and the NGO’s need for financial support will ultimately cease to exist.
According to Thabang’s management committee this is very good concept, and with the right leadership, support and knowledge, groundbreaking work can be done. In fact, once a system is in place much more of the organization’s effort can go into its line function, namely the caring of children, rather than the continual application for funds and justification of expenditures.

The biggest challenge, however, is finding the time to run both business and NGO and acquiring the special skills that go with business, mostly an unknown field for charity workers. A new mindset must be developed to explore all the possibilities around income-generating-projects and a link between NGO and business will have to be created.

Thabang was initially started because of the desperate need in the community around Thabazimbi.  Children were placed in the Place of Safety and Youth Centre because they had come up against life debilitating odds such as families who could not support them, having no family and no home, being abused or because of delinquent behaviour.

Within the Thabazimbi district Thabang is the only child care facility, except for the foster care system. The foster care system has problems of its own; it takes time to have foster homes approved and often a child needs to be removed or placed immediately.

Thabang has, apart from giving a home to children and support to HIV patients, also contributed substantially in terms of job creation and training of staff, many of whom have left the employ of Thabang and went on to better jobs.  Many have been trained as Child and Home Based Carers, who see patients in their homes, help administer medication, care for children and some are even qualified to do basic counselling. To a large extent, they are, along with other NGO care workers, the eyes and ears of the Department of Social Development on the ground.

During the month long strike by government employees home based carers from Thabang and other NGO’s worked as volunteers at Thabazimbi Hospital. At the Youth Centre boys from Polokwane were taken in, because the centre they were living in closed down on account of the strike.

A substantial amount is needed per month to keep the, on average, 32 children fed, cared for and stimulated, as well as keeping the community centre in Smash Block going. The Department of Health and Social Development helps fund child care packages and community work, but the grant does not cover all the expenses.

The Management Committee of Thabang has requested that anybody who is prepared to help contribute towards helping develop a sustainable income for Thabang, contact Elsie Kekana at the centre on 014 772 1268 or Tessa White on 083 296 6940.