South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of child poverty. An estimated 62 percent of the country’s children are considered multidimensionally poor—meaning they are deprived of multiple basic needs. The vast majority of these children live in rural South Africa, but 41 percent of children living in urban areas also experience multidimensional poverty.
The causes behind this pressing issue are varied and complex. Several local nonprofit organizations are working to address these root causes and eradicate child poverty by providing support for mothers and children through various programs. Here is a look at some of the most impactful of these organizations.
1. The Grace Factory
This independent nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping South African mothers and babies in need. The Grace Factor’s goal is to ensure that all new mothers in South Africa can meet the basic needs of their babies and themselves during the first few weeks of the baby’s life.
The Grace Factory distributes maternity packages of donated items and new items purchased using monetary donations. The main item donations they ask for include:
New or gently used clothing for babies between 0-24 months
New or gently used baby blankets and sleeping bags
Diapers between sizes 1-5
Maternity sanitary pads
In addition to donations, the Grace Factory relies on volunteers to keep its operations running. Those who wish to volunteer can choose an activity that suits their skills from a wide selection of options, from organizing and distributing items to knitting or crocheting new baby clothes and accessories.
Home-Start is an international nonprofit that strives to end and prevent homelessness in various parts of the world, including South Africa. The organization’s process focuses on early intervention by providing the resources struggling families need to maintain their homes and healthy living standards.
The main services offered by Home-Start South Africa include:
This program provides group support to children who have lost a parent or another loved one. The group allows children to connect with peers who are also dealing with a major loss. The kids are taught how to express their feelings and cope with grief healthily, while parents and guardians learn how to help their children grieve.
Home-Start volunteers visit families at home, where they can have a private and open conversation about their needs and goals. These home visits may involve parenting advice.
Play therapy is a type of therapy that uses playtime as a way to communicate. Children can express their emotions, thoughts, needs, and desires through tools like toys, games, and drawings.
Home-Start’s playroom is designed to be a safe place for children, where they can express themselves and work their way through tough emotions. A therapist in this room works to build a relationship with the child and foster trust and understanding.
Parent Effectiveness Training
The Parent Effectiveness Training program teaches communication skills for parents and offers conflict resolution guidance. The stated goals of this program are to create loving relationships between parents and children, develop conflict resolution skills that improve relationships, understand the motivations behind their children’s actions, learn honest and open communication skills, and provide parental guidance for raising children who are responsible, self-motivated, and self-disciplined.
3. A Reaching Hand
Based in Cape Town, A Reaching Hand is a charity that works towards eradicating poverty through education, employment, and nutrition. Founded in 2010, A Reaching Hand does not receive government funding and relies almost entirely on private donations, philanthropy, and foundations for funding.
A Reaching Hand works to improve nutrition and health in impoverished communities through the use of childcare centers, after-school programs, and community projects like art therapy. The organization recognizes that early stimulation in health, nutrition, and psychosocial matters can help prevent malnutrition and its adverse effects on learning.
Since 2010, the group’s nutrition programs have benefited over 1,000 children and youth from households with very low incomes. A Reaching Hand serves food to children daily and also donates bulk food orders to kindergartens.
The organization also believes that investing in education for young children is a powerful tool for improving their well-being in the future. A Reaching Hand financially supports kindergartens in severely impoverished communities, providing teachers and caregivers with the resources they need to spark cognitive development among their students.
In 2013, A Reaching Hand started a children’s literacy project based on a children’s book called How to Be a Super Bear. This literacy project is intended to boost enthusiasm for reading among children as well as encourage parents to read to their children.
Creative art therapy is another focus of these educational programs. Over 60 children attend creative art therapy classes each Saturday morning and receive a nutritious meal afterward.
Additionally, A Reaching Hand strives to boost employment in poverty-stricken communities by improving access to both education and employment in these areas. Participants in this program are also taught job skills and how to be independent and self-reliant.