Creating a future for the less privileged
The Mbabane SOS Children’s’ Village is the oldest among the three villages in the kingdom of eSwatini. Having been in operation since 1989, the village has been able to provide quality care to quite a number of children that were unfortunate by not having anyone to take care of them. As of today, more than 200 young people are independent and are contribution members of the society. They are specialist in different fields of study, which includes among others building and construction, carpentry, auto and mechanical engineering, teaching, nursing, law, medicine, pilots, army, accountants, tourism, secretarial, etc. Besides having acquired all the mentioned skills, some are living with their families, as they are happily married.
Currently the SOS Family care is supporting 224 children and young people. Out of these, 108 are in the village, whilst 41 are pursuing their careers both locally and in South African Institutions. 75 are supported under the kinship care programme, which is a new unit that encourages children to receive care whilst with their relatives. It is worth mentioning that out of the 75 children, seven of them have been staying in the village and as from this year, they requested to be reunified with their biological relatives. Furthermore, It is worth mentioning that all of them have settled very well and are enjoying being in the company of their family members.
A caring home produced an oversees graduate
‘Having lost both parents in a space of a year and rejected by your grandparents whilst still in need of parental support is not an easy experience’ says Neliswa to the village father after her graduation. The only people that she bonded well with were her biological parents. When they died, Neliswa and her younger sister were left vulnerable to all forms of abuse. The only relative that was there was her parental grandmother, who was however not ready to accept them. Thanks to SOS Children’s village who came in at the right time for the two innocent souls. Immediately after admitted into the village, Neliswa and her sister were provided with the best care and education through the SOS mother and other staff members. Neliswa was determined in her education, such that she was among the top five in her class. However, within few years in the village the most unfortunate befell Neliswa. She lost her younger sister who was everything to her. That did not deter her from excelling in her academics as she was given an opportunity to sit for an entry exam in one of the best schools in the country, which she passed. She continued to perform well such that she was awarded a scholarship to study in the USA for a four-year Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Environmental and Occupational Management. “Now I am well armed for the rough world outside through SOS Children’s Village support. Soon I will be working and at the same time pursuing a Master’s degree”, say Neliswa
Fund development through a family day
As usually, the Mbabane programme hosted its yearly Family Fun Day in 2017. This was on the 24 June in commemoration of the founder of the organization who was born on 23 June. More than 10 corporates graced the occasion with the presence of their staff members. Each cooperate was allocated a family house, and the village children got the opportunity to share special lunch that was prepared by the corporates staff. Games were also part of the day as SOS staff members, corporates and the Sidvwashini community enjoy themselves at the sports ground for almost the whole day. In addition to the donated lunch, corporates also raised more than E100, 000.00 towards the good work of providing care to children that have lost parental care and those that are at a risk of losing it. Besides the financial contribution, the children were able to mingle with others from the nearby community, and that enhances social integration, and deals with the stigma on institutionalization.
Festive season celebrations
The programme’s children and young people who have relatives are encouraged to pay them a visit during the Christmas holidays. In the past year, more than 70% of the children were afforded such an opportunity. This helps them in creating a strong bond with their relatives, as finally they will be integrated back to them. On return, they share wonderful stories based on their experiences whilst with their families of origin.
However, there are those children whose relatives have not been traced. The village does prepare a program to keep them occupied over the holidays. One major activity is having an outing on the 25 of December. In the previous year, children and young people visited Mlilwane game reserve. They spend the whole day there cooling themselves in the swimming pool, enjoying braai and playing a number of games. They also got an opportunity to tour around the game reserve and see the different kinds of wild life. It was a memorable experience for the SOS children since they mingled with other children from all walks of life, who came with their parents. Also, on the New Year’s Day, a big braai was organized in the village where they enjoyed themselves in a lot of meat together with their SOS Mothers.
The Mbabane Children’s village staff believes in a holistic development of children and young people. This involves catering for their education, physical and psychosocial needs. In 2017, the programme hosted a one-day event where all children and young people were exposed to different facilitators who were leading in-group discussions of topics that are relevant to their development. The event saw about 600 participants (children and young people, caregivers and community leadership) flooding the village sports ground for the whole day event. Topics covered included drug and alcohol abuse, human trafficking, HIV and Aids, growing up, positive parenting, communication, counselling and many more. It was very beneficiary for the participants as acquired a lot of information to enable them to make informed decisions about life.
Family Strenghtening in Mbabane
The main focus of the Family Strengthening programme is to prevent family separation in families of children and young people who are at risk of losing parental care. This is done through implementing interventions that strengthen the capacity of caregivers to provide quality care, ensure families have sufficient resources and access to essential services.
The Mbabane FS provides support to 814 children in 304 families. We operate in 5 communities being Sidwashini, Msunduza, Malagwane, Mpolonjeni and Mahwalala. There are 4 child care centers that have been constructed through the support of different partners in 4 of the communities and in these centers we provide services like feeding of children on daily basis, a study center for children after school, meeting area for community leaders and the community at large. Some of the centers are even used for income generating purposes through renting them out for activities such as church services. We also run four preschools and one literacy class to support the education of children.
Income generating projects
Partners we work with are Partners in Education Eswatini (PIES), AMMICAAL, Children’s Cup, Eswatini Building Society, Waterford, Eswatini Bank, Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade.