Description: Morning Star Children's Centre, a day care facility for HIV/AIDS infected children, is situated in Welkom, and was an award winner in the Impumelelo competition in 2003/4. It has increased in capacity by 50% since that time, now accommodating 90 children instead of 60. There is a waiting list of another 66 children, and the fact that 89 of their children have now died, but the number requiring their assistance continues to grow, shows the desperate need for their services in the community they serve.
It is situated in premises made available by the Free State Department of Health, and aims to provide optimum daily care to pre-school children in the form of nutritious meals, appropriate medication, plenty of stimulation, and lots of love. More than half the children have already lost their parents, and live with grandparents. There is even a "Gogo's Club" as a support system for the Grannies. Their great desire is to help the children achieve a measure of their full potential before their untimely deaths, and, where possible, assist their families in the surrounding townships.
Although initially totally dependent on the Free State Departments of Health and Social Development for sustainability, they are increasingly self-supportive and government now provides less than half of the funding. Their unusual Child Sponsorship Program in the United Kingdom translates into Debit Orders of 20 GBP per child per month on a regular basis. There are already 100 children so "adopted".
There are also several income generating projects, which have been established to help address the immense poverty in the Free State Matjhabeng region - where there is an estimated 60% unemployment, and where many of the fathers were migrant labourers who have now returned to their families and abandoned their local children.
A successful new project is "Food Gardens/Tunnel Agricultural Project" which is being used not only to feed the children, but also to train locals, many of them HIV/AIDS victims, in special food production.
Innovation: The project was innovative when it started, and has now been replicated in some of its aspects.
Effectiveness: Morning Star impacts directly on between 500 - 1000 each month. Fifty plus children attend the Centre daily; another 40 children are already in primary schools but come for medical and other assistance; many families of the 70 children on the waiting list receive food, clothing; 20 adults currently benefit from the job creation programmes.
Poverty impact: The project specifically addresses absence of shelter; lack of clothing and shoes; assistance with government grant applications, job creation programmes, transport costs for children, school fees, and pre-school educational costs.
Sustainability: The project has not only proven itself to be sustainable, but has in fact grown exponentially. Funding plans are working, including overseas funding. The project receives free electricity and water, is rent free, and for the rest, is depending less and les on Government for its existence.
Replication: The project has to a certain degree been replicated already, and can always be copied provided there is co-operation between administrators of the project and government. Discussions are underway for the granting of further suitable premises in order to replicate the project in the region.