Description: Yabonga (est.1988) a Cape Town based Non Profit Organisation has Educare Centres in Thandabantu, Sunrise, Ekanana, Khulanthi, Crossroads, Nyanga, Houtbay and Malindi to address nutrition, health and education of pre-school children in township communities. It was soon realised that Yabonga needed to expand its operation to include HIV positive children and their mothers, as some of the children who attended the Educare Centres were HIV positive. In 2001 Yabonga established a Home for HIV positive babies in Khayelitsha and initiated a programme of support for mothers who were diagnosed HIV positive as part of the PMTCT. Partnerships were formed with Cape Town Child Welfare Organisation, Provisional Department of Social Services, ATTIC, NACOSA, ARK, EDUCO Africa and the Phillip Trust. These partners provided funding, training and the provision of ARV drugs to those infected with the virus. Mothers whose children attended the Educare Centres were empowered and trained as lay counsellors and peer educators and operated in their local communities, keeping travel costs down. Women were also encouraged to declare their HIV/AIDS status in a caring and supportive environment. Food parcels and vegetables from the gardens at the support centres were also provided to mothers who started taking their ARVs. To date 120 peer educators have been trained, of which 70 are employed at the support centres established at 9 community clinics. From these centres they provide services to a further 6 clinics, schools, churches and community centres in the neighbourhoods and to families requiring home visits and home-based care.
Innovation: What makes the programme unique is that all educators and lay counsellors are HIV positive and are able to convey first hand information to their clients. Another innovation is that support groups are also held with male partners of female clients.
Effectiveness: Currently 600 clients are involved in support group activities and each of the peer educators and lay counsellors earn on average R936 per month. Each peer educator presents prepared educational and hygiene talks to an average of 200 visitors to the clinics per day. 75 children have private sponsors for Grade 1 books and school uniforms. The Department of Social Services subsidised 150 food parcels to clients who are on ARVs. These food parcels also contain additional vegetables that are grown in the vegetable gardens that operate at the different support centres. Presently, 90 people are involved in the craft programmes, while income was R213 136 expenses were R 213 214 and a loss of R77 was incurred.
Poverty Impact: HIV/AIDS has definite roots in poverty. The fact that people do not always have sufficient money to be able to take care of themselves and their children in terms of nutrition and health leads to very definite health related problems. The programme allows staff and clients to generate some income that empowers and allows people to fend for themselves improve their self worth and free up the limited resources of the state to assist others.
Sustainability: The project has been in existence for 18 years and meets a growing need in the communities whom they serve, what is of concern though is that operational costs exceeds income by more than R1 million in the 2006. The grant from the provisional Department of Social Services ends in September of this year, it is unclear whether the grant will be renewed.
Replication: The project has been replicated in 9 different communities and the fact that there is a growing demand from clinics for them to set up new Support Centres in their areas is evidence of the success of the project. It is also a model that can be easily replicated in township communities where services are lacking.