The Story of WELVERDIEND Community
Welverdiend is an extremely vulnerable community in northeastern South Africa. The community faces many challenges including arid, unproductive land, poor job opportunities and a lack of support for the vast number of Mozambican refugees. During the Mozambican civil war, many refugees streamed over the nearby border and settled in the community for safety. Due to the lack of ID documents, these refugees and their children are unable to receive any services from the government, resulting in a 98% unemployment rate.
Children currently supported: 150
Number of Care Workers: 10
Coordinator Name: Angel and THEMBI
Distance from HAZYVIEW Local Office: 110 KM
In 2007, Hands at Work was introduced to the community of Welverdiend. The vulnerability of this community was evident and they began to mobilise the local church and identify key people in the community who had a passion for caring for the children. One such individual is Thembi who has been the Coordinator of Pfunani Community Based Organisation (CBO) since 2007. While Thembi has only one natural child, she considers the community children she cares for, her own.
The Care Workers are advocates for their children, helping to enrol them in school, referring them for treatment at the local clinic, and connecting them with Social Services in order to obtain grants and necessary documents from Home Affairs. In addition, with the support of Hands at Work, Pfunani CBO is able to help ensure safe and secure housing and provide school uniforms for those children who are in need.
At the beginning of 2016, a shelter was built and benches were installed at the Life Centre to offer the children a place to sit out of the sun. The local office in Hazyview has helped in doing home repairs, such as putting in windows and doors with locks on houses, as well as providing some blankets and mattresses for children. There is a plentiful garden at the CBO which helps support the daily food provision to the children. In August, the CBO started a care programme for children under five years old whose young mothers are in school themselves. Pfunani CBO is thriving with love and life; the children and Care Workers know Jesus in the hardships they face in their community.
In 2019, due to a change in Government policy, children who do not have proper legal documentation to attend school will no longer be permitted. The Hands at Work local office teams in Hazyview and Oshoek are working hard to make plans for the children and families this will directly affect. Hands at Work is seeking to understand the increased vulnerability our children face, not only due to the lack of education and regular routine, but in their day-to-day living. Hands at Work sees the Life Centre in each community as an opportunity to facilitate the growth and development for each child affected. Programs to facilitate learning, skills and development will be introduced at our Life Centres over the course of the first few months of 2019, allowing each child to have a place where they feel loved and a sense of belonging.
Siyabonga* is 16 years old and an emerging leader in the community of Welverdiend. He lives with his grandmother. Despite her best efforts she struggles to care for his basic needs. Siyabonga is a great help to the Care Workers. He encourages the younger children and helps them with their homework. The love and commitment displayed by Siyabonga for his community is a shining example of local community ownership, one which he could not have achieved without the example of the Care Workers at Pfunani CBO.
The Hands at Work office in Hazyview currently supports six Community Based Organisations, which exist to care for the most vulnerable in their communities. The office provides training, networking, and encouragement to those Community Based Organisations like Pfunani. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.