The Story of STHOBELA B Community
The community of Sthobela B is surrounded by mountainous hills and is situated alongside the South Africa/Swaziland border. Many of the residents have come from Swaziland, seeking a better life, but without proper identification papers, children are not able to finish their education and therefore are unable to secure employment. Not only are many unable to finish their education, but they are continually chased from the local schools and not allowed back. Within these beautiful, grassy rolling hills, it is often extremely cold and windy, creating a further hardship for the many families who are unable to afford suitable clothing or blankets.
Due to the lack of sufficient employment in Sthobela B, an area newly mobilised by Hands at Work in the Sthobela region, any people survive by ploughing their own fields for food, but this seldom yields a significant profit. If there is food to sell, people have to walk down to the border, but those opportunities are limited. There is limited access to clean water for the residents of Sthobela B, as water from local rivers is contaminated from animals which roam freely.
Children currently supported: 50
Number of Care Workers: 5
coordinator name: Lethiwe
Distance from oSHOEK Local Office: 11 KM
Basic Services Started: 2018
In 2014, Anita, one of the Care Workers from a nearby community, recognised the desperate need within her own community called Sthobela. With the support of Hands at Work, Anita and other community volunteers from Sthobela came together to help identify the most vulnerable children in their community. In 2014, the Care Workers began serving 50 of the most vulnerable children in the community of Sthobela. Anita became the first coordinator of Sthobela Community Based Organisation (CBO) and because of her passion for caring for the most vulnerable, is now a part of the Hands at Work local office team in Oshoek.
Over the years, as the needs of the most vulnerable within the community and the surrounding areas continued to grow, the leaders of Hands at Work knew that they needed to respond. Seeing and understanding the situation, the Hands at Work local office team in Oshoek visited the chief within the wider community of Sthobela and cast the vision of caring for the most vulnerable. Graciously, the chief gave a second building in a location known as Sthobela B for another Care Point where the Care Workers could care for additional children. One of the Care Workers who was living within the area surrounding the new Care Point became the coordinator of Sthobela B CBO. With the support of the chief, the Hands at Work local office team in Oshoek mobilised the local church within Sthobela B to care for the most vulnerable. Out of meetings with the local church, an additional four women with hearts of grace and compassion raised their hands and committed to becoming Care Workers.
The Care Workers began walking in their community and visiting the homes of the most vulnerable children, assessing their needs to ensure that the most vulnerable are being reached. In March 2018, 50 of the most vulnerable children started receiving a nutritious meal and support with their education and health care. Though there are just five Care Workers currently, many of the children being served come from a small number of families. When Care Workers visit their homes, they are able to assess and check in on the well-being of multiple children from one family. In time, it is the hope that more Care Workers will be added to this number which will increase the number of families being reached by Sthobela B.
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.
At 14 years old, Thando* has already experienced a deep level of trauma and brokenness which can be attributed to the passing of his mother in 2005 and then his father in 2007. Although his grandparents love their grandchildren and desire to provide for them, it has proven challenging as they do not have any regular source of income.
It was in Thando’s sadness and pain that he was found by volunteer Care Workers from the Sthobela B Community Based Organisation (CBO) and invited to come to the Care Point. Thando needs physical support from the CBO, but also a level of emotional support because of the trauma and pain that he has endured. As his Care Worker, Poppy, visits his home and invests into his life, Thando has slowly begun a journey of healing. Even when Thando tried to push his Care Workers away, their refusal to give up on him demonstrated the love that they have for him.
The Hands at Work office in Oshoek currently supports nine 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 Sthobela B. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.