When you arrive at Khumbulani Centre you are greeted by big smiles of the staff members and by curious eyes of the children observing the stranger that just walked through the door.
The organisation is a registered non-profit organisation working in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It was initiated in 2000 by nine women from the area, who wanted to take action against the HIV/AIDS pandemic affecting the community around them.
Their mission is to protect the vulnerable, especially children, and to empower the community as a whole and families in particular to be better able to protect and support their children. They are also focusing on networking with other providers for the benefit of children.
The organisation started operating in 2001 providing a vegetable garden, a soup kitchen and after day care for children. At the beginning they were using members’ houses to run their activities. But when the programmes were expanding they identified the need for more space and successfully approached the City of Cape Town which made land available for the erection of permanent structures. Khumbulani currently consists of four staff members, 15 volunteers and approximately 300 beneficiaries.
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Khumbulani can rely on a broad network of partners and funders. They have successfully applied to the Department of Social Development, the Department of Education and MSAT which serves as a funding institution and a forum for networking and coordination in Cape Town.
Khumbulani also liaises with NGOs such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Abalimi Bezekhaya, the Volunteer Centre and are a long term associate of Community Connections. Gloria Bebeza, Khumbulani's coordinator, was part of our first training course in 2001. She consequently served on our board until her resignation in 2007. She is currently the chairperson of the Masikhulisane working group. Khumbulani has also been part of Community Connections Organisational Development Support Programme as from 2006.Asked about their relationship with Community Connections, Mama Gloria and her deputy, Nondumiso Xintolo agree that the organisation has provided good support. Since 2000, Khumbulani has continuously sent their volunteers to our trainings, which both, Mama Gloria and Nondumiso, have also attended.
They will continue to do so, as they feel the training addresses relevant issues and are very helpful. "The training is wonderful, but the problem is that we don't have the resources to implement what we have learnt", states Mama Gloria, giving lacking computer equipment as an example as to why Khumbulani's staff and volunteers have been unable to practice and further improve on the computer skills that they have learnt in our Computer Literacy Course. "The resource centre could be helpful for people to come and do their work and in order to get information", Mama Gloria adds.
At the same time, she maintains that this would require one of Community Connections' staff to be present at the centre to assist with technical aspects that they might have forgotten, such as how to send emails. As mentioned above Mama Gloria is the chairperson of the Masikhulisane working group, which consists of community workers associated to Community Connections and Community Connections' staff. Mama Gloria explains that it is not clear as to whether the Masikhulisane campaign is a Connections' programme or an entity on its own. She maintains that it is important that one or two staff members of Connections are permanently working for Masikhulisane. As all working group members are involved in other organisations, she feels that there must not be too much reliance on the working group. "Sometimes, it is not possible for working group members to attend, as they are preoccupied with commitments by their own organisations".Both, Mama Gloria and Nondumiso see Masikhulisane as an important aspect of Connections' work: "Masikhulisane is really helpful due to the relationships that we have built with funders", says Mama Gloria. And Nondumiso adds: "There is a lot of information coming from Masikhulisane and it opens minds". At the end of the our conversation, the two Khumbulani staff members have a few words of advice for Community Connections: They emphasise the importance of Community Connections to screen CBOs before entering into a partnership with them. "Don't just take on any organisation, make sure they don't just come for the resources and then go. Ensure, that partnerships are being built between Community Connections and the CBOs you work with. Associated CBOs must also assist Community Connections.", Mama Gloria says.
Both, Mama Gloria and Nondumiso agree that they will continue to make use of Community Connections' services. They always receive new volunteers and after these have received skills through Community Connections' training courses, they receive job opportunities. Khumbulani sees it as important to not only empower Khumbulani's leadership, but to also invest in its volunteers, as in the long run, these are then able to run the organisation. Volunteers leaving Khumbulani to take up employment elsewhere is not a problem for the organisation. "There are always more volunteers coming", the two women say energetically. If fire is the main comfort of the camp, these incredible women are the fire of Khumbulani. They create a secure environment filled with warmth, hope and joy.
Vegetable Garden and
As a reaction to government’s emphasis on a healthy diet for people infected by HIV/AIDS Khumbulani started a vegetable garden. The land is provided by an NGO called Ikamva Labantu and they grow a big variety of vegetables depending on the season.
Khumbulani has also integrated job skills development and income generating programmes into the gardening project. Currently, the soup kitchen provides a warm meal to 30 members of their support group for HIV positive men and women twice a week as well as for 50 senior members of the community who are HIV positive and on ARV or TB treatment.
Day Care & After Care
Khumbulani provides day care and after care to children up to the age of six who are affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. As many crèches do not cater for HIV positive children they are often excluded or the parents are reluctant to disclose their status because of this. This can result in children not receiving the special care they need or the danger of infecting the caregivers or other children if their status is kept secret. Khumbulani fights the increasing occurrence of child neglect in deprived areas of Khayelitsha. Currently there are 160 children in the day care centre.
Khumbulani’s staff members make sure all children are treated equally, whether or not infected by HIV. The specific medication, usually to be taken once per day, is not provided at Khumbulani, but it is the responsibility of parents or guardians to make sure the children get the medicines they need. Khumbulani also provides a 24 hour refuge for children. It is addressing emergency cases, when children do not have anybody to take care of them e.g. in case of death of their parents. The children are being taken care of until foster parents are found if no other family member can take care of them.
Home Based Care
The support group consists mostly of women who are single, some because they have been abandoned by their partners after disclosing their status. They meet twice a week and consist of 30 members. Khumbulani organizes empowerment workshops to create awareness and dispel myths and legends around HIV/AIDS. The women are empowered through knowledge and strengths when dealing with their families, the community or the job environment.
Khumbulani also offers services to the wider community in the form of counseling, HIV/AIDS awareness and training and support to families affected by HIV/AIDS. The Home Based Care programme is carried out by 5 members of the support group. They visit and take care of HIV/AIDS infected people in their homes and at the hospital, providing not only practical help but also empathy and moral support.
Interested in Khumbulani? We'd love to hear from you!