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SOS Social Centre Waterfalls, Zimbabwe Community Outreach Programme

Programme Description
Driven by the motto: Let’s give the children a future, the Community Outreach Programme activities started at the beginning of 2002. It aims to provide holistic care to children who have lost both or one parent or are living with terminally ill parent(s) in two of Harare’s high-density suburb’s (Glen Norah, Glen View). They could be living with a grandparent, extended family or living alone as children. Former staff accommodation facilities within the SOS Children’s Village Waterfalls were converted to house the office and a storage room for the Social Centre programme. The programme activities specifically addresses the needs of children as identified in the needs analysis exercise carried out at programme inception.

The four main intervention areas are:

Support with school fees, extra tutorial lessons, school uniforms and material, vocational training possibilities
Access to health services and medication life skills workshops for children and guardians, parenting workshops, psychosocial support, supplementary food,
Facilitate income generating activities
Legal assistance to prevent loss of property for children, assistance to obtain legal documents (birth/death certificates)

There are currently about 1,300 children enrolled and the programme runs at an average cost of US$15 per month/child beneficiary.

Relevant standard and good practice

  • We support vulnerable children in order to assure their immediate survival and development rights.

  • A holistic support package is tailored to meet the basic survival and development needs of the child.

The individual child is at the very centre of every support intervention. The intervention package ensures access to basic services/facilities with a sustainability component built in. Income Generating Activities guarantee long-term sustainability of the family. All details of the beneficiary child are kept in an electronically database which facilitates planning, monitoring and evaluation.

Through the participatory planning process, the SOS program is well known in the community and various community members and the leadership make referrals of children who are eligible to be enrolled. The eligibility criteria for enrolment are:

  • Double orphan or living with chronically ill parent(s) or abandoned for more than five years

  • Below sixteen years of age and willing to attend formal school

  • Resident in the designated area for at least six months

  • No significant benefits from other organisations

  • Willingness of family/guardian to get involved in self sustainability activities and programmes

The SOS Social Centre staff verifies the information through home visits and physical verification of the death and birth certificates and completes the enrolment form as well as seeking authority from the guardian to take photographs as part of documentation and fund raising purposes. All details of the child are kept in an electronically database. The child is given a photographic ID card which allows them to access the respective services.

Education: There are elected school representatives that form the linking pin to the Social Centre programme. They facilitate that all the educational needs for the SOS programme beneficiaries are catered for, including material, psychosocial support and tutorial support.
Health: Cooperation with the local clinics and pharmacies were established and programme beneficiaries can access services with their ID card. Through the consultation of a nutritionist an effective monthly food supplement package is distributed to the children. Life skills workshops for children and guardians are organised tackling issues like: Who am I, puberty, the child headed family, study skills, child rights, child abuse, communication, HIV/AIDS, behaviour change, relationship skills.
Accommodation:Good cooperation with a lawyer and the police have been established which helps in obtaining legal documents (title deeds, birth and death certificates) for the beneficiaries.
Livelihood: Income Generating Activities are encouraged (for example):

This is one of the entrepreneurial grandmothers, head of a 12 people household. She loves to interact with people and has always dreamt about running her own little shop. She went through business skills training, organised by SOS and conducted by a consultant. The training covered topics like generating and analysing business ideas, drawing up a business plan, costing, buying procedures, pricing, record keeping, marketing, negotiation skills, customer care, communication and more. As a successful graduate of this training she was then provided with a loan by SOS to set up and stock her own tuck shop, just outside her home. After a period of only 6 month she has paid the loan back. In the first month of operation she was guided and advised by the business consultant and received refresher training courses. Today, her business is running successfully and she is a competent and proud businesswoman.

Lessons learnt

  • During the first years of the intervention, our activities focused to assure the immediate survival needs/rights of the child but now our focus is more on activities to enhance the self sustainability of the family.

  • Besides material support we need to strengthen the psychosocial support given to harmonise the relationship between the guardian and the child.

  • To establish and monitor income generating activities and loan schemes is very resource intensive thus a partnership with the local NGO WDSCU (Women Development Savings & Credit Union) is currently being established.

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