The Nhlangano Programme started its operations in September 2001, with only five family house. The other houses were opened later and by January 2002, the village was operating at full capacity of 100 children in ten family houses. The King’s Representative officially opened the village on 27 September 2002.
Presently the Programme has ninety-two children in twelve family houses. SOS made a decision to reduce the numbers of children in each family and concentrate more on quality. From 2006, the Programme started running youth homes, in a rented facility about three kilometres away from the SOS village. This was a great move at that time, and young people who grew up in those facilities are now living independently. Later on, SOS decided to do away with youth homes and the young people were assisted to become independent through offering them relevant skills and training
Implementation of Standard five of the SOS Children’s Villages (Youth programmes Offer self-development opportunities), has helped the Nhlangano Programme to ‘walk’ with the youth in their development such that, since its inception, fifty seven young people are employed and living independently, fifty two are in different universities and colleges, both within our country and beyond our borders. Eleven youth are in vocational skills training centres.
The Nhlangano Programme also witnessed the retirement of longer-serving SOS Mothers. This is not always a nice thing, especially to the children who have grown to know these dedicated staff as their mothers.
The village also runs a kindergarten with four playrooms and a medical centre. Both the kindergarten and the medical centre are highly favoured by the community in Nhlangano for the good services provided and the location, as it is a walking distance from both the bus rank and the small town.
The community of Nhlangano donates to the village clothes and other items, which the village converts into cash. The cash is then used for day-to-day running of the programme, like buying food and medical supplies. During the Easter month, the Programme conducts Easter Treasure Hunt in different schools. Schoolchildren enjoys this event because they get the opportunity to look for the treasure around their school after they have donated to SOS. The treasures are inform of candies, chocolates and snack. Those children who are lucky even get toys.
In 2017, the programme received a donation of desktop computers from one of the village sponsors. Each of the twelve houses now have a computer, which children use for homework and research.
The other children’s homes around Nhlangano usually assemble to the Programme once per year for a fun-day. This event is fully organized by the children, while adults become a support structure. During this event, games like soccer, netball, volleyball and athletics take place. The winners usually get a trophy, which they keep in their organization for a year and bring it back.
Family Strengthening in Nhlangano
The SOS Children Villages, Family Strengthening (FS), was established in 2001 in the Shiselweni region with an objective of preventing family separation and child abondonment. The FS programme has been operating in Mangwaneni, Maseyisini (Vusweni, Dlovunga and Masibini), Mathendele Township and Mzizi Communities to provide technical and material support to families and children to be able to take care of their children. The programme’s activities focus on community and family development for child empowerment. This is done through ensuring that each family has support in the three key developmental focus areas. These are; access to basic essential services, development of the caregiver’s ability to administer childcare, and that each family is able to create its own wealth and income.
Through the family development process 2.0 (FDP), the programme together with each individual family and child create a ‘plan of action’ that will detail a roadmap to self- reliance. This process started by an intense orientation exercise of the staff and programme volunteers, family development process coordinators (FDPCs), to ensure quality of process and interventions. The new FDP2.0 template focuses on the key developmental focus areas, for both the child and the family, and enhances child participation that ultimately increases complete family ownership of programme interventions. The rollout of the new FDP 2.0 has started well in all the communities in March 2018 and should be completed before the end of the year.
FS has had huge success in developing and support livelihood for children and families in the programme. This area touches on the ability of a family and children to access basic and essential services. The programme has provided families with basic needs, which includes provision of food and nutrition, clothing, construction and renovation of homes, and health support for children and caregivers. The programme has sent four children for specialized health care at the Manzini clinic for specialized treatment, medical counseling and care. This service has had a huge impact on the lives of the children and their respective families as it enabled them to support each other.
The programme has also constructed a family house for a sibling family from Mzizi who have been subjected to very harsh living conditions without proper housing for shelter. The programme was able to engage the community leadership structures for support and construct a two room house for the family to improve their wellbeing. The programme was also able to support three other families with renovations of their family houses to make them more livable and conducive for quality child care. This programme intervention has been a huge success and has greatly improved the lives of so many children who now have a proper place they can be proud to call home.
The programme is supporting five children who are currently pursuing different fields in tertiary level. The programme provides them with either tertiary fees, accommodation fees and requirements, scholastic support, and or transport fees. To mention one, Ayanda Mdluli, is enrolled with Pro Institute and doing his second year of diploma certificate in Community Development. This programme support intervention has an immediate positive effect on the lives of the children and their families as the children are able to quickly get employment and assist to support their families, which ultimately makes the entire family to be self-reliant. A more recent success story is that of Wandile Dlamini who has been through the programme and was assisted pursue a civil engineering course with a University in Egypt. Wandile has graduated for his degree from the University and is back at home. Even though he still wants to further his studies in the field, he acknowledges the impact the programme has had in his life and is looking for employment to start earning and supporting his family.
The programme provides families with capital to start income generating projects. Income generating projects are a quick way to assist families to create income and wealth; which ultimately makes the families to be self- reliant. Families put up proposals for different projects to be funded like establishment of mini tuck shops for fruits and vegetables, poultry, sale of second-hand clothes, and IT related projects (mobile Money). Ms. Vumile Zitha of Maseyisini (Dlovunga) was assisted to start a poultry project. Her project is doing very well as she has been able to grow and sell all her initial stock. Through the proceeds, she has managed to restock and support her family with their basic needs. The project continues to support the family and she is contemplating on ways of growing her business to better support her family through its profits.
The programme also works on creating partnership to enhance sustainability of programme inteventions. The programme has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nzongomane Free Evangelical Christian Fellowship church, faith based organization (FBO) from Mzizi. This partnership involves a lot capacity building prospects for the FBO to be able to meet the MOU objectives. Many of such developments have already been started and as a result, the FBO has started doing programme interventions without FS involvement. This is a great milestone as it shows great progress made by the FBO towards being a full implementing partner. The FBO recently constructed a family house for a Matsebula sibling headed family in the community. They used the accessing skills acquired through FS trainings and sourced funding to support the family. The programme is currently drawing out capacity and sustainability plans for the FBO to be able to be self-sustaining, be active implementing partner and continue with programme implementation after SOS involvement. The FBO currently has three income generating projects that have been funded by the programme; beekeeping, Poultry project and gardening.