The Story of BHANDENI Community
The community of Bhandeni was first discovered by Hands at Work in 2013. Bhandeni sits only 7km from the border town of Lomahashe, and yet the steep mountainous roads make access to this village very difficult. There is no school or clinic in Bhandeni and people must travel to the border town for access to only basic services or temporary work in the sugar cane fields. For the children, the walk from their village to school starts at 5am and is over two hours long.
Children currently supported: 75
Number of Care Workers: 10
Coordinator Name: nomathemba
Distance from swaziland Local Office: 15 km
Basic Services Started: 2015
In this region of Eswatini (Swaziland), sexual abuse, trafficking and cultural rituals put the most vulnerable children in immense danger. The walk to school alone means that children are in danger of being taken and exploited. Girls, especially, are at a high risk with many being forced into early marriage as young as age 12. Pregnancy in these young married girls is extremely common, as is polygamy.
Hands at Work have been able to identify local volunteers who have a heart to care for children - the poorest of the poor - in their own community. Through late 2014 and early 2015, these volunteers have become Care Workers and have been visiting the homes of grandmothers and children to assess the levels of vulnerability and how they can support them. In August 2015, these Care Workers began providing one meal a day, access to basic education and health care to each child.
110 children in Bhandeni have been identified as the most vulnerable in their community and are left even more vulnerable because the drought. Hands at Work has implemented drought relief activities in Bhandeni Community to relieve some of the burden of the crisis. Since July 2016 with the help of Hands at Work, Bhandeni Community Based Organisation (CBO) has been providing children with breakfast before their two hour walk to school, and serving a hot, nutritious meal six days every week. Additionally, clean drinking water is being given to the children.
Masia* is a 13-year-old girl whose family has been heavily feeling the effects of the drought. She is the only one in her family who can speak Shangaan and so she is sent alone to cross the border into Mozambique to collect water. The drought relief activities have lifted a huge burden off of Masia and her family, and the Care Workers at Bhandeni CBO help to encourage her and show her the love of Jesus every day.
The Hands at Work office in Eswatini (Swaziland) currently supports four 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 Bhandeni. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.