by NMCF Youth Leadership Secretariat
The Youth Leadership Secretariat (YLS) is a group of passionate youths who aim to leverage Madiba’ values to develop active citizens amongst children and youth, who will drive change in their communities and country. We are embarking on designing innovative interventions and platforms under the NMCF Youth Leadership Programme to educate, develop and support young leaders as they go about transforming their communities and countries. We are thought leaders who wish to lead the way in transforming the narrative imposed on children and youth in South Africa under the slogan, ‘By the youth, For the future’.
Throughout the course of our tenure we wish to assist the Fund with its goal of ‘Changing the way society treats its Children and Youth’ by lobbying and advocating for and with the youth under three main objectives: Promote. Empower. Influence.
Currently we are undergoing an immersive research and stakeholder engagement process, gathering insights on issues faced by the children and youth of South Africa so as to ensure the suitability and effectiveness of the revitalized Youth Leadership Programme.
We kicked off the year on a high note and hosted our first ever meet and greet between the YLS and the Efeng Bacha members in early February.
Efeng Bacha is one of
the youth structures under the Youth Leadership Programme tasked with identifying and addressing social issues mostly affecting children and youth.
The main purpose of the event was to formally introduce the YLS team and the Efeng Bacha advisory board. The event was not only fun; but gave us great insights on the issue’s other members of Efeng Bacha are passionate about.
This event was instrumental in building relationships between the YLS and the members of Efeng Bacha. Since the event, there has been strengthened interactions and communications between the YLS and members of Efeng Bacha.
YLP 2020 Milestones
Khaya Ramoshayi of Efeng Bacha being interviewed on the day of the SONA at eNCA studios about the perspective of the youth on the SONA.
When asked to comment, Khaya had the following to say:
The interview went well despite how little time was allocated as many interviews were scheduled on that particular day. I did however feel like the interview should’ve happened preferable after and with more than one person (interviewee). Highlights in the interview included being asked:
Consequently I’d like to assume awareness on the Children’s Manifesto and the Fund on its own was raised efficiently.
The following is from an excerpt written about the launch:
Media personality and author of “Africa is Open for Business”, Victor Kgomoeswana, was the conversation facilitator for the evening. He questioned Zameer about his motivation for writing the book and tried understanding him better.
Zameer explained his motivation behind writing the book, “I wanted to create an inspirational story using a character that is relatable to the majority of South Africans. I wanted to show that through hard work, discipline, support and some luck, one can rise and succeed. I hope that it is interesting enough to encourage kids to read”.
Ladies of the YLS and the YLP’s Efeng Bacha attending this year’s SLAY Fest, a full day event of innovation, networking and women empowering and learning from one another, with the special treat of gaining knowledge from various industry powerhouses such as Bonang Matheba.
The ladies from Efeng Bach had the following to say after the event:
by Ayabulela Poro
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, a flagship project of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, kicked off the year with various activities at the facility, now the second dedicated children’s hospital in Southern Africa. Family-centred care remains at the heart of the hospital. While continuing to provide care to our most vulnerable, staff at the institution also championed activities aimed at raising awareness around critical illnesses facing children on the continent. This period also marked the launch of a book highlighting the journey of the hospital which began here at the Fund.
One Small Heart at a Time
In February the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital celebrated Congenital Heart Disease Week. To mark the occasion, the Cardiology Department at the hospital, hosted “Wear Red Day” and celebrated with patients and families at the Outpatient Department.
It is estimated that 1 in 120 children are born with heart disease. Head of Department, Professor Hopewell Ntsinjana said that, “Some defects are simple and correctable but if parents wait too long to seek intervention, it can cause irreversible damage. It is important that these defects be repaired with the first year because operations become riskier in older children.”
Over the past year the department has performed over 150 open-heart surgeries. Fundraising is an essential part to ensuring that the department can reach many children in need of similar care.
Read the full story covered by the Rosebank Killarney Gazette:
The journey of a parent who met a “Heart Whisperer”
The commitment of the cardiology department is evident in the party they hosted on Valentine’s Day for the children who had operations at Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. “We have this party for them and their parents to celebrate the children who made it through,” Head of Cardiology, Prof. Ntsinjana explains.
“Children are unique individuals with unique problems and if nobody can speak up for them concerning those problems, we risk walking down a dangerous path. When a child enters the ward, the parents are crying and everybody is distressed. However, once they get well, they are up and about and high-fiving you. That makes it all worth it.”
Carley Opperman, the mother of four-month-old Cara-Lee, calls Prof. Ntsinjana “the heart whisperer”, because “he not only whispered to her heart, but also to mine”.
The family’s paediatrician sent her to the hospital to see Prof. Ntsinjana and the family almost cancelled the appointment because Cara-Lee, who was then five weeks old, was not looking sick and was only battling to drink. After examining her, Prof. Ntsinjana had to tell her parents that she was gravely ill and had to be admitted immediately. She was on the brink of heart failure.
“He gave us time to process the news and made it clear that there is not even time to get a second opinion. We had to trust people we did not even know, but everybody at the hospital made it so much easier for us. They were always hugging us and reassuring us and gave us individual attention that made us feel that Cara-Lee was the only patient there.”
Cara-Lee was one of the children attending the party to celebrate the children who went through surgery to repair their hearts. Although she could not enjoy the snacks because she is still too small, this day was for her too. And for all the parents who completed the arduous journey with them.
Looking at these children who all came to celebrate “wear your scar with pride day”, as Prof. Ntsinjana calls it, it is clear that Madiba’s dream for a hospital dedicated to children has come true.
Internal Book Launch “A Dream Realised”
founding organisations, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust (NMCHT) and Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund).
Written by authors Ulrike Hill and Zanele Chakele, “A Dream Realised – The triumphs and challenges of building a Mandela legacy” details the journey that led to the building of the second dedicated health facility for children in the region.
What began as a seed, grew from a vision to a state-of-the-art-facility offering critical care to children in the region, regardless of their socio-economic standing.
The story tells the story of key players who brought this vision to life including CEO of the Fund and NMCHT, Sibongile Mkhabela who sat on a panel to discuss the book with the authors and Dr Pinky Chirwa, Head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, who also provided clinical inputs during the conceptual phases.
Encouraging staff who held on to the panel’s every word, Mkhabela said, “We're finished building, but we still need ambitious and visionary people. None of us can do this by ourselves.”
An external launch of the book is planned for later in the year. The book is currently available from major book retailers including Exclusive Books, Amazon. Orders can also be place on the NMCH Website.
Celebrating World Kidney Day
Shaped like beans, kidneys play a crucial role in the body including ridding it of toxins. While a kidney transplant is the best treatment for a child living with kidney failure, our dialysis unit plays a vital role in providing this treatment to children from various corners of the country awaiting transplants.
12 March is widely celebrated as World Kidney Day. This year’s theme on focused on preventing kidney disease and our dialysis unit was not one to be left out on the education drive.
Patients, together with nurses and doctors provided entertainment for staff accompanied by dietary tips to improve kidney health as well as screenings for staff.
Watch an interview by nephrologist in the Unit, Dr Tholang Khumalo, talking to the SABC’s Morning Live on this condition.
To learn more about the hospital click here
By Shadi Nyokong
The past four years of implementing the Child Survival Development and Thriving programme (CSDT) has given us evidence that social intervention and adequate responses are also a solution to health challenges and they do play critical role in improving child health outcomes. The excitement in 2020 started with documenting these initiatives to highlight lessons and experiences. This is not only meant to influence practice and policies but most importantly to save lives and ensure access and quality of health care services for pregnant mothers and their bundles of joy, the under 5 year olds.
One interesting initiative is the breastfeeding buddies model in Mpumalanga. A highlight from this model is an increase in more babies being breastfed, with almost 95% of the babies being exclusively breastfed for the first six (6) months. Since the programme started, 706 breast feeding women were reached, with 665 having exclusively breastfed their babies, and only 41 who mixed fed their babies i.e. feeding them both breast milk and formula. From this initiative, a case study on a solution to increase breastfeeding numbers will is being documented.
Two other models that are also being documented is the role of early childhood development (ECD) in child health care, especially stimulation services for children under the age of two. The second intervention is called baby competition in Kayelitsha. The focus is the importance of health education in improving health awareness and compliance to child health care. Both interventions are implemented in Cape Town.
Our understanding of the fact that children matter, also our partnering with local organisations, help us as a Fund to continue to be one of the critical role players in the strengthening of health care systems to better care of our children. This has also given us confidence with digitalising of our monitoring and evaluation framework.
During this period, the good work we are doing, is also challenged by COVID 19. Children and pregnant women are among the most vulnerable. With partners in KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, our messages are emphasizing key steps that need to be taken to protect beneficiaries and staff from infection by COVID 19. We thank the good men and women from our partner organizations and all health practitioners for their work and commitment.
By Mapule Cheela
In strengthening our youth to deal with issues of unemployment – Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (SLP) is successful in this area. We now have 13 youth Self Help Groups, active in entrepreneurship, advocacy and filming and documentation. These youth are based in KwaZulu Natal, Free State and North West Province. New Mind Made Innovation (our SLP Youth group from the Free State) visited Sao Paulo, Jundiai, Osasco, Campinas in Brazil from 23rd November to 4th December 2019 to film and document work done by the second generation of Ladysmith Black Mambazo during the Khense Cultural programme in this country. Their travel and accommodation costs were covered by the KwaZulu Natal Department of Arts and Culture.
Our Self Help Youth Group in Makhune in Eshowe is doing well with their poultry project and has increased its sales on eggs and chickens. It is still supplying two Spur restaurants in Eshowe and Richards Bay. We met the manager of Spur restaurant in Eshowe on the 29th February 2020 to share our appreciation for his support for this group and thank him personally for his contribution to this project.
The Tshwaro Youth Group in North West province is also doing well in their egg selling project. They are now supplying three guest houses in Mogwase with eggs, selling in the community of GaMabodisa, and they are planning to supply the local holiday resorts around Sun City before the end of September this year. Please note that the Group Leader of this project visited their peers in Makhune, Eshowe to learn more about egg selling business. This is an SLP initiated group exchange programme.
The Majakathata youth Self Help Group is also doing well in its advocacy programme. It has reached eigh schools targeting grade 8 to 12 learners in addressing the issue of drug and alcohol abuse. It is also doing well on its printing service project and servicing customers in the Moruleng area. It has also printed beautiful 2020 Calendars for the Fund’s staff to show case their work and as a way of saying “Thank You” to the Fund for its support. They are also planning to diversify their business by producing school uniforms for the local primary schools in the area. They have already identified a sewing trainer who will assist them in this area.
The Dempisi Youth Sewing project is also doing well in Thaba Nchu. They are sewing school uniforms and recently they were requested to produce a special uniform for the teachers of Woodbridge Primary School in the village of Woodbridge. This project is managed by youth that benefited from Boikhuco OVC programme when they were still at primary school as orphans.
By Mampe Ntsedi
The invisible members of the society during crisis and emergency
The overview of state of the child in 2020, is quite a difficult topic to deal with especially because no impact study has been done. In terms of protection it gets worse when one reflects on what has happened since the beginning of the year. The building of the Children’s Hospital by the Fund provides hope that not all is doom and hopelessness. While we celebrate this achievement knowing that some children’s health issues will be met, it remains a challenge on what needs to be done to protect children.
The country saw an unprecedented rise of violence in schools and communities which led to the Fund asking its strategic partners and leaders to reflect on how the country has treated children. It seemed that as a country no one is accountable to the children, when a child dies in school no one takes responsibility. Last year we initiated the campaign theme “We Failed Them”. We had failed the children who died in the pit latrines, we had failed numerous children who died on the roads of South Africa on their way to school commuting from their communities. Part of the reason for the long distance travelling is because education where they live is not of the quality their parents’ want them have.
The new decade has not been any different. The country is fighting one crisis after another. The nation was in mourning for most of the first part of the year with the amount of children who died in schools. As if this was not enough a woman lost three of her children in one take, she lost her family’s future, her legacy in one go, why because she wanted a better education for her children. The policy says children should not travel more than five (5) km from home to access education, but that is not the case. Children wake up as early as 5 am to get into a taxi to get quality education. This is not what should be happening the fight for access to education in suburbs should not be an issue 25 years later. The government should be prioritizing quality education in every township and every suburb. Access to education is the right that South African children have guaranteed in the constitution. Access to quality education should never lead to vulnerability and creating unsafe conditions for children and their families.
As if the deaths of children were not enough, the coronavirus hit us. Oh what a start of the decade! Never before has the world agreed to be in solemn agreement in how to deal with a problem: wash your hands, stay away from each other, we all need to flatten the curve. I am not sure the reason why the care for children is not high on the agenda for politicians as it is when it comes to the coronavirus. It might be because it is said that while children can get the virus, but it does not progress to dangerous state. Plans were provided on how and what everyone should do during the period of the lockdown for instance, there is a plan for women should they find themselves vulnerable and abused.
There has not been any strategy that has been provided for children during the lockdown. Children just know that they have to stay at home with their parents and guardians. Parents need to support their children to spend a minimum of two (2) hours studying per day. The one problem with this is that parents are anxious and scared because they are also trying to understand the crisis and how it impacts their income.
It looks like children only exist when they receive education, but their rights to access healthcare, protection and safety does not seem to be a priority. Children have been instructed to stay at home longer than usual and I am not sure if parents have enough information to explain to their children why they are all at home. Children are told to wash their hands. Access to water and sanitation is major problem in most rural and township schools, as well the communities where they live.
The lack of planning for children in times of emergency and disaster needs attention not just by government but the rest of civil society. While politicians worry about how they going to manage the lockdown I will like to thank institutions like Afrika Tikkun who remembered that children will still need to eat and are providing food parcels to those who need support. The new decade should be about putting children at the center, developing interventions and strategies that put children first by ensuring that their rights are protected.
By Konehali Gugushe
In just four months into ’20-plenty’, a year which has been labelled as the year of prosperity and multiplied success, has quickly fallen short of its expectation after the recent incidents of violence against children. It is quite appalling to witness so many cases of viciously dispossessing children off their innocence and right to life in the first quarter of 2020, when the calendar year is still at its core of a fantasy of newness and clean slates.
“We need a more responsible society”, addressing fellow South Africans in a letter published on the 27th of January 2020 on news24 Cyril Ramaphosa | We need a more responsible society, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlights some of the tragic incidents of children’s deaths as a result of negligence and violence. In the letter, President Ramaphosa, urges society to preserve the life of children and protect them. “We need to ensure that children are able to grow up in a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment, so too must we feel a duty to protect and care for all those who we know and interact with”, he remarked.
Following the resoluteness in the intent behind the President’s letter to plunge in concern and urge society to foster and protect the future of this country, an increasing number of incidents of violence continue to surface, with over a 100 cases of violence against children and women reported recently 107 people arrested for gender-based violence and crimes against children in Gauteng. This certainly raises unsettling concern on the state of children in this country, and further drives us to probe deeper for answers to the perplexing question of who is really stepping up for the children in this country?
Amongst other reported and disturbingly violent acts against children, is the recently confirmed arrest (on the 15th of March 2020) of a 42 year old man from Diepkloof, who allegedly sexually violated his children aged 6, 8 and 10 and apparently threatened them not to disclose the incident to anyone (media statement, South African Police Service, Office of the Provincial Commissioner Gauteng). Such is an example of one too many instances of the unsettling reality of most South African children, which has triggered the response of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) together with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) through the relentless efforts to continue prioritising the welfare of children and the youth.
Some of the programmes and initiatives we offer as a fund cater to the establishment of mental and physical wellbeing of children who have suffered traumatic experiences as a form of rehabilitation, which include: children survival developments programme; child safety and protection; youth leadership initiatives as well as sustainable livelihoods project.
To adhere to our vision as Mandela’s Children Legacy organisation(s), which is to strive to change the way society treats its children and youth and to constantly maintain providing a voice and dignity to the African child by building a rights-based movement, we continuously demonstrate nothing but tenacity in our approach to solving critical issues affecting the well-being of children in South Africa.
From dedicating efforts to ensure childhood development, through the child survival development and thriving programme during Pregnancy Awareness Week (in February) which has ensured a total of 17887 women have adhered to their antenatal care - to successfully hosting dialogues aimed at educating and involving men and boys in protecting as well as supporting women and children. This is to ideally refurnish what tat ‘Mandela hoped for, a society which appreciates and sees that “ our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation” – Nelson Mandela.
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