Thousands of children get better health as Hope Park dream becomes a reality
Hope Park children’s health campus in Munsieville, South Africa, is now up and running, transforming the health prospects of over 15,000 children and young people. For more than a century, Munsieville children have suffered poor health and low life-expectancy. Many have struggled to access even basic health services often subjected to risky ‘remedies’ from traditional healers. Now they have easy access to a range of health and well-being services without equal in South African townships. Hope Park is more than a stand-alone clinic - it is an integrated facility with a network of health and well-being practitioners, working together with a commitment to give every child the opportunity to grow into a healthy, productive adult. Hope Park was made possible by the support of The Property Race Day and has separate facilities for infant health, child health and teenage health, a dedicated child nutrition centre, provided by Norton Rose Fulbright and a multi-purpose children’s education and support centre.
The Gauteng Police Department raised funds on their annual cycle race for The Thoughtful Path, #Munsieville and also donated four white boards for the health clinics and nutrition centre at the Hope Park. Thank you for your support!
In this short video you will see how our 'You Grow-They Grow' vegetable 'heart gardens' are constructed in South Africa, designed to withstand adverse weather and maximise productivity. When someone joins the 'You Grow-They Grow twinning scheme, we build a new garden in Munsieville for families to grow fresh, healthy vegetables to feed their children at a fraction of the cost of the produce in local shops. Find out more about the programme at http://www.yougrowtheygrow.org/
The Thoughtful Path team take caring for Munsieville's children to a new level
The case of Hannah and Moputo kept the Thoughtful Path Team on their toes for many weeks. The 4 week-old twins from Mozambique came into our care in February 2017 after their 18 year-old mother was admitted to hospital with severe post natal depression and a heart condition. Before that, Moputo had to be resuscitated after drowning in the bath tub, only the attention of a neighbour helped to save his life. Taking babies into home care is not something the team would normally do, but these circumstances were particularly difficult, especially after the mother passed away in hospital. The father, whose stay in South Africa was illegal, had to travel to Mozambique to renew his passport and re-enter the country legally, otherwise he would not have been able to take the twins and the corpse of his wife back home. Moputo and Hannah remained in the homes of our team members for 6 weeks at night, and were taken care of in one TPM trained ECD centres during the day. They gained weight and were in perfectly healthy condition when the team handed them over to the grateful father and his family, all set up for a long trip to Northern Mozambique where they will grow up with extended family. The father expressed his gratefulness and said: ‘I have worked with many NGOs over the years, but I have never experienced such a deep level of care and compassion’.
Building gets underway at the HOPE Park in Munsieville
A happy day in the Munsieville township, South Africa, yesterday, with the delivery of our Child Nutrition Centre, the first of four units to provide unique facilities that will save young lives and improve the health of thousands. There was much celebration, singing and dancing from the crowds gathered to watch as the buildings were lowered onto their base. The Nutrition Centre will be part of the Munsieville Hope Park, and together with the Fhulofhelo Centre and Children's Health Centre will soon be providing essential services for children in the heart of the community.
Schools ready for the 'You Grow-They Grow' pilot in Spring 2017
This month, selected primary schools in the UK have received their special ‘You Grow-They Grow’ packs, containing everything needed for children to participate in an exciting experience growing vegetables, learning about plant science, establishing a direct link with children in Munsieville, South Africa, and supporting their efforts to grow their way out of malnutrition. The 34 schools are part of a trial involving over 8,000 children through the coming Spring term, helping to shape a unique educational project due for launch in late 2017. It is part of our strategy to help address the malnutrition blighting the lives of countless children in the developing world. Although the application process for participation in the school trial is now closed, there is a host of exciting resources available for FREE download on the 'You Grow-They Grow' web site, including worksheets, lesson guides and videos.
Fhulofhelo Centre rebuilt after major storm
A major storm swept over Munsieville last month and completely destroyed our children's centre in the informal settlement. Many people lost their homes to the hail storm and those who were already very poor are now left with nothing. It is the biggest disaster for a long time in South Africa's oldest township. The vulnerable children suffer most and so we worked on a first response to meet their immediate needs as well as a plan to recover and rebuild the centre. The excitement in Munsieville is now growing as the new centre emerges from the red dust and the foundations for a new nutrition centre, sponsored by Norton Rose Fulbright, are laid. The Fhulofhelo Park campus is fast becoming the heart of this deprived community and its focus is right where it should be - the beautiful children of the community.
Recognition for The Thoughtful Path's Project Director
Our project director Betty Nkoana has been awarded with the Gauteng Province 'Vita Basadi Community Builder of the year' prize. The ceremony took place on Wednesday, 31 August 2016, at the Gauteng Legislature in Johannesburg City Hall. The awards are running in their second year and honour women of Gauteng who have made a difference in their communities without recognition or reward. Our long term partner, the Child Protection Unit in the police service and its representative Captain Paula Terblanche also received an award. http://gpl.gov.za/tag/vita-basadi-awards/. We are very proud of Betty and the team in Munsieville!
'No Child Left Behind' 2016
The ever-popular Thoughtful Path 'No Child Is Left Behind' project has exceeded the numbers of children registered in previous years following the opening of the new Fhulofhelo centre. The new bright and colourful environment attracts children and their parents alike, so the current group for this programme has 25 children aged from 4 to 8. The project started in 2014 for immigrant children who had no access to early childhood development, to provide learning opportunities, teach them about colours, numbers, health and exercise and to give them all the language training they need to be ready for primary school. Thoughtful Path staff also help the parents and caregivers with school enrolments and overcoming other bureaucratic hurdles.
New After School Care centre opens in Munsieville
Thanks to donations from our trustees and staff, we have been able to build a new Fhulofhelo Centre in Mshenguville, Munsieville's informal settlement, to be used for after school care and activities such as baby bathing classes during the day. The Thoughtful Path team and volunteers from the community worked hard over two weeks to construct the centre and landscape the grounds, including creating a demonstration vegetable garden for our 'You Grow, They Grow' programme. The centre is now big enough to separate the children in age groups to give all of them the best possible support. The operating hours will be longer than before so there is always an open door. The outside arena is now child friendlier and safer and wheelchair access ensures that there is no barrier for anyone. Look out for more news on landscaping improvements over the coming months.
Mercury Phoenix Trust supports child crisis line
The charitable foundation set up to expand the extraordinary legacy of rock legend, Freddie Mercury, has announced a grant that will support the 'Botshabelo Child Crisis Line' over the coming year. Funds from the Mercury Phoenix Trust will cover the cost of the toll-free telephone line, training, and the costs of supporting the volunteers who answer calls from children in distress in Munsieville 24 hours a day.
The Botshabelo Child Crisis Line, believed to be the only service of its kind in South Africa, being dedicated to the care of children in one specific location and operated by local people, was launched as part of The Thoughtful Path Munsieville in 2014. In the past 18 months, over a 1,000 calls have been received and many serious cases of child abuse and neglect have been forwarded to professional agencies working in partnership with the Project HOPE UK initiative.
Team building through cooking
South African potjiekos, slow cooked over many hours, were at the heart of January's team building activity in Munsieville. Potjiekos are traditional stews, cooked over fire in cast iron pots. Most families have these pots at home but no experience in using them. Schalk and Jean Jo who run the restaurant at the Sterkfontein Lodge showed us all how to cook with them and to make a real 'meal of it'. As well as spending time building relationships, the team learnt how the pots can be used to make cheap but delicious, healthy and nutritious meals for their families.
Learning about human rights in Munsieville
Ceri Blower‘s family won our Property Race Day auction prize in 2014, which consisted of a South African safari, visits to museums in the local Johannesburg region and a township tour, organised by Project HOPE UK.
Ceri has a background in law and international development and ran a workshop for the Thoughtful Path team in Munsieville about human rights, how they are implemented and their impact at governmental and individual levels. She also explained the structure of international and South African law which was for most participants the first time that they had ever heard about the subject.
Spreading good hygiene messages in Munsieville
It is holiday time in Munsieville! The children are enjoying the well established kids' holiday club with indigenous games at the Children's Embassy alongside plenty of health education. Avadhesh, one of the GSK Pulse volunteers, takes the opportunity to reintroduce oral hygiene in a hands-on workshop as well as healthy hand washing. As much as we take these things for granted and they are part of our daily routine, with no access to fresh water it is a challenge for many children and caregivers in Munsieville.
Community Health Guidelines launched in Munsieville
The first guidelines and take-home factsheets of the 'Pathway to Health' community health curriculum are now ready for briefing community members - information on HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria has been prepared for caregivers of vulnerable children and members of The Thoughtful Path hubs, highlighting preventative action and timely care-seeking. Additional topics to be covered include common childhood illnesses, mental illness and nutrition and hygiene.
In Munsieville, Dr Eric Mukanzila (a local GP) and Elliot Nesta (Thoughtful Path project coordinator) make sure that everyone attending the Health Curriculum workshops has a thorough understanding of the common illnesses that are relevant to the Munsieville community. Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, malaria, meningitis, we have all heard these words before and we know all about it...... but do we really? From now on, these community members will take their knowledge into the families living in Munsieville to raise awareness and eradicate myths that are often spun around the cause and symptoms of diseases.
ECD training success story shows the impact of The Thoughtful Path on the women and children of the community
The Thoughtful Path’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme trains women in the local community in early childhood development, to internationally recognised standards. Fifty women have completed the training programme and many now run crèches in the township where they provide pre-school support in a stimulating environment. The young children who have received this professional ECD care have improved chances of doing well in school, enjoying better health, and breaking free of poverty so they in turn can provide better opportunities for their own children. Many of the women running ECD centres left school themselves without formal qualifications so graduation from the training programme is a huge achievement for them and they are also able to earn an income from their centres to improve the lives of their own families. Two stories show the impact of the ECD training on these women and through their progress on the wider community too:
Mama Silvia has been working with The Thoughtful Path since 2011, initially looking after street children. This involvement with The Thoughtful Path encouraged her to start an ECD centre, which covered the basics like cooking for the children and washing their clothes. Silvia then joined the Safe and Sound ECD Level 4 training and is now a certified ECD practitioner and able to speak in public (she was previously very shy). Silvia has also recently joined the Munsieville bakery project which will produce fresh bread for the community.
Mama Louisa runs an ECD centre in Munsieville for children aged 0-4 years. She organises daily activities to develop the children in her care, including structured play and songs to learn numbers, colours, days of the week, staying healthy and safety in the home.
Project HOPE UK board visits South Africa
In February, the Board of Trustees of PH UK visited the Thoughtful Path programme in Munsieville for the second time. They came to update themselves on the progress that has been made over the past 2 years but also to see how they can support the programme with their expertise. The four days of their visit were fully packed with meetings over strategy papers and reality checks on the ground. When they left they not only had a clear idea of the programme’s progress, they were all more than committed to the team and the community of Munsieville. They were impressed with what has been achieved so far and everyone went away with a task to contribute to make this important programme work, but also with the children in their hearts, inspiration from the beautiful people of Munsieville, and the knowledge that we all are a huge step closer to being ONE TEAM!