Mastering diversity strategies that work

Devan Moonsamy from the ICHAF Training Institute has been honoured by Verulam Child and Family Welfare charity for his organisation’s ongoing support to the children of South Africa since 2012. Devan’s parents, Mr Mannie and Mrs Lilly Moonsamy, accepted the award on ICHAF’s behalf. Continuous funding to Child Welfare from ICHAF has contributed to poverty alleviation over the past seven years.

Through Verulam Welfare, ICHAF donations are aimed at helping whole families. This helps build a stronger, healthier family unit, which is still the most critical source of care and support for a child. Nevertheless, more than 6.6 million children live in poverty in South Africa and more than 1.8 million of these children live with neither parent. They are thus in very vulnerable situations with little or no proper adult care and supervision. We know the plight of AIDS orphans and child-headed households is a terrible reality in Africa, and it is vital that more companies and donors focus intensely on their needs.

Young children lack the experience and financial access to improve their lives on their own. Yet there are still many left without their basic living and education needs met. All donations should help the most needy, but many remain neglected, especially in rural areas that are hard to access, and where it is difficult for organisations based in cities to spread their reach. Organisations with reach in rural areas are better placed to help these children and donors should focus on these for maximum effect.

ICHAF is combating child welfare problems in a number of ways. Among the costs covered by the donations are food, healthcare and medical expenses, and domestic child and baby care. Financial assistance is made towards children in foster care to ensure their wellbeing in what is still a potentially vulnerable situation. To ensure children living in vulnerable situations receive education access towards their own upliftment in future, school fees and tutoring are also covered.

ICHAF has been the most consistent funder to the Verulam Child Welfare to date, but this remains an uncommon situation. Many donations are made to help children; however, they tend to be once-off, leading to inconsistent access. Thus, some schools in Africa may receive a donation of stationery, for example, but nothing else again for a long time. This may help in one area in the short term, but companies and other donors should shift to long-term funding strategies.

One way to do this is to ensure that specific, identified children in vulnerable situations benefit over the course of their schooling. Donors can focus on a specific area or need, such as children with a disability from low-income homes, and ensure their unique educational needs are met in the long term so that they are equipped by the time they reach adulthood to have greater independence and a source of income. These kinds of interventions are the ones that make a real difference.

Devan says that support for recognised, well-run charities in South Africa is very important and more companies and people should channel support to these organisations which already have effective programmes in place. Interventions are properly managed, and the results are visible. One can also donate time and effort, and second-hand clothes, shoes, stationery, and books will always be welcome.

There has been an outcry over the poor state of education in the country, particularly the low literacy and numeracy levels. We may sit and wonder why the government doesn’t simply improve the curriculum and conduct more teacher training. While this is helping, we should not miss other potent causal factors of the education crisis – which begin in the home and not in the school environment.

Prof. Jace Pillay, a researcher in education and care in childhood at the University of Johannesburg, thus explains that vulnerable children tend to perform poorer than their peers largely due to a lack of facilities and homework support. This contributes in a major way to the education crisis. There is simply no one available to assist these children, and their teachers are overwhelmed with their workload so that they cannot help their learners enough on the individual level. Other adults are needed to fill in the gaps for these children, such as tutors and orphanage workers. Funding should be directed to help with these costs.

Devan is thus urging other companies to get in touch with him or Child Welfare directly so as to discuss new funding or partnership opportunities and so that more awareness can be created about sustainable donating for the improvement of children’s lives in the long term.

Please contact Devan or Verulam Child and Family Welfare using the contact details below. Alternatively, contact a charity in your area, or one which focuses on a specific need you or your company would like to help with.

Tel: 011 262 2461
Cell: 083 303 9159

Verulam Child and Family Welfare
Address: 5/7 Church Street, Verulam, KZN
Tel: 032 533 1046