The women and mothers putting their communties first.
The Community Mothers fall under the banner of the Orange Babies South Africa organisation, an arm of NGO Yabonga.
The programme is made up of a group of 20 women, who have selflessly opened their hearts and homes to vulnerable children affected by HIV in the poverty-stricken areas around Cape Town. These women, most of whom are HIV positive themselves, cook for about 30 children each. In addition to providing the children with a warm meal, the Community Mothers ensure that the children take their medication correctly, help them with homework and facilitate group conversations around pressing issues such as loss and grief, violence and sexuality as well as personal hygiene.
We speak to Nontembeko Mbambazela, the Country Manager for Orange Babies South Africa; she is responsible for Yabonga as well as all the Orange Babies’ Funded Projects in the country.
“I have been part of Orange Babies projects since 2011, when I was managing a project based in Limpopo, and I became the Country Manager in December 2019,” says Nontembeko.
“The Orange Babies’ projects focuses on the most vulnerable groups which is what drew my attention. The projects are based where children most need to be protected and assisted and that is what Yabonga is doing through the Community Mothers’ projects.”
How did the organisation get its start?
Yabonga was founded in 1998 by Ulpha Robertson and Ursel Barnes. We started off as an informal initiative to support pre-schools in the poorest communities in Cape Town. Yabonga was established to empower families that are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and also to change the socio-economic circumstances of youth and adults for better future for all.
Tell us some of the stories:
Seven children were referred to SAPS and the Department of Social Development for sexual abuse and neglect. Besides that, 32 children were taken from their homes and stayed in the respite unit and received intense therapeutic intervention, for different reasons. The social workers that are present at each of the Community Mothers’ homes have proven to be valuable in the identification of these children and in providing the necessary support. During this semester six children were newly tested HIV positive, some of them were referred by the clinic/school. Of the 1, 053 children that are in the Community Mothers’ programme, 38 children are currently HIV positive and all are part of the disclosure/support group.
These are the cases that were identified through the Community Mothers’ programme.
How does one become a Community Mother?
Everyone in the specific community gets asked if they want to be part of the programme. Their homes are then assessed for safety and cleanliness. We check if there are any sheebens and taverns around their homes. If the social worker is happy with the findings, then the new Community Mother will be trained on health and safety. They also asked to cook and if their cooking skills are satisfactory then they will be appointed as Community Mothers
Why the name Orange Babies?
Orange Babies is the name of the organisation that is based in the Netherlands with the objectives of ensuring that all babies born from the HIV positive mothers are born HIV negative. Also, those that are HIV positive live a healthy lifestyle
This is the organisation that is funding the Community Mothers programme at Yabonga to help the communities to be informed of HIV and to help infected children live better lives.
Tell us more about the training the women receive?
- They are trained on personal hygiene as they take care of the children in their houses.
- Food handling and preparations.
- Health education and basic HIV information on prevention, transmission and adherence.
- First Aid
Can you elaborate on their roles?
The Community Mothers provide afterschool care for 20 to 25 children, who come to the community mothers house in the afternoon to do the homework and be taught about life skills. They also offer a safe environment, a hot, nutritious meal and emotional support, with the help of Yabonga trained child counsellors and GAP students. The children don’t stay with the Community Mothers, though they are based in the same area and are positioned walking distance from their home to the Community Mother’s house
How can the public at large get involved?
The Community Mothers’ programme can always do with extra hands, especially with women who have skills of teaching, cooking, empowering and debriefing sessions. If anyone is interested in becoming part of this great program is welcomed to email us and the appointment will be made so that they can visit the programme.
Be everyone’s mother: donate to Orange Babies South Africa
This Mother’s Day we’re shining the light on the incredible hearts of the Orange Babies, Community Mothers, an arm of NGO Yabonga. The Community Mothers are a group of 20 women who have selflessly opened their hearts and homes to vulnerable children affected by HIV in the poverty-stricken areas around Cape Town.
Yes, you can help! Donations, big and small, can be made in two ways:
- Via this form on their site that takes you directly to a PayFast link to complete payment.
- SMS ‘babies’ to 49245 to donate R20 (SA only).
And… help us, help them: donate to the cause and earn 10 extra points for the #FirstLady mothers-day.co.za competition!