The Siyabonga Helping Hands for Africa Centres at Esigodini and Imbali are two such places that assist the communities to achieve this. They allow us to get closer to our children, their families and the communities as a whole. Our level of commitment to the children in the townships changed with the building of the community centres. Structures create sustainability and a sense of place for the organisation within the community. A place where the children can come for meals and participate in educational programmes that go beyond the school curriculum. Our focus is specifically on upgrading English, Maths literacy and social activities. The division of grades into smaller groups enables the staff to manage the large numbers of children attending the centre.
The Educational Centres have been strategically placed close to two primary schools within the township areas of Pietermaritzburg (in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa). The Esigodini centre is approximately a 200m walk from Esigodini Primary School and the Imbali centre is just a few hundred metres from the IzwiLesizwe Primary School.
Our Social Worker, Phindi describes our Centres as “Home”. Each one is a safe place to talk, a place to forget the poverty, a place that instills hope. The Centres are a place to play, to participate in sports, to socialise with peers. As we are child-centred, the children feel loved unconditionally. We build a mutual trust and we address hard issues in a positive way with group talks to address social issues such as HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, sex education, cleanliness and nutrition. Our primary school children go through play therapy and have group discussions on topics such as HIV/AIDS and Xenophobia. Our social worker, Mbali, counsels the children and refers them on where necessary.
There is also netball for the girls and soccer for the boys. We run holiday programmes where they experience playing games and having fun. The activities strengthen their relationships with their peers as well as the staff at the Centres. At the Annual Christmas Party each child receives a gift and has an opportunity to thank the Siyabonga Helping Hands for Africa staff for all they do – an important life lesson.