Throwback to iThemba Lethu

In honour of #ThrowbackThursday, we thought we'd feature one of our past project partners and look back on what we achieved. This week, it's iThemba Lethu in Durban, South Africa, which COCO partnered with between 2001 and 2012.

iThemba Lethu is a charity which focuses on providing support for children affected by HIV/AIDS. More specifically investing in these children to ensure their lives aren’t tainted by HIV/AIDS and assist in the process of orphaned or abandoned children into suitable families.

While partnering with COCO, the organisation had two main programmes; the Family Integration Programme and the HIV Prevention Programme. Since 2012, they have also introduced a Breastmilk Bank to their work.

The Family Integration Programme provides a temporary home for orphaned or abandoned babies as a result of HIV/Aids. These babies are nursed back to good health and are provided with lots of love and care by the staff. This is a temporary transition home and the babies only stay there whilst waiting for their forever home.

The HIV Prevention Programme educates young people on the realities of living with HIV/AIDs and provides amazing support through the help and advice of councillors and youth workers.

COCO was able to provide assistance by paying the salaries for 4 members of the staff working in the transition home and the youth leader on the HIV Prevention Programme. In addition to this, COCO helped to provide holiday clubs, youth camps, leadership clubs and a vehicle used to transport the staff and children to and from the project site. Through working with iThemba Lethu, COCO helped HIV Prevention Programme to work in 4 schools with 5 year groups, educating roughly 750 children on HIV/AIDS.

The community led aspect of projects is very important to COCO and being able to aid people to benefit their society is something we as a charity thoroughly enjoy seeing.  - “Community development projects should be driven by the present needs and problems of the community targeted, not by an abstract or universal conception of basic human need.” (Manzo, 2000)

Glenda from iThemba Lethu said, "COCO has been an absolute lifeline to the programmes that iThemba Lethu runs. iThemba Lethu means 'I have a destiny' and our vision is to see children whose future is threatened by HIV/AIDS regain a meaningful destiny. The monthly contributions from COCO have contributed to both of the iThemba Lethu programmes. The contribution to the Family Integration Programme has made it possible for us to pay the monthly salaries of our three full time staff employed in the transition home. The staff members are the backbone of this programme. They love children and are committed to seeing each baby in our care loved and nurtured and healed. The team celebrates each time a baby is placed into a suitable adoptive family. In 2006 we have facilitated the adoption of 9 babies from our home."

iThemba Lethu continues to do fantastic work in Durban, working with vulnerable children and young people. You can find out more on their website here.

Written by Fatima Pamsm-Conteh, COCO Volunteer.

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