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06 Dec
  • By Dave Holmes

Educating AIDS Orphans

Phakamisa a Zulu word meaning “to uplift”, pronounced (pa-ga-mee-sa), is a charity based in Pinetown, a suburb of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Its aim is to give support to children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and who are cared for by grannies (gogos) and others in their communities. To help the young ones, assistance has to be given to the adults, so as well as education for the children, training and education is given to the adults so that they can improve their circumstances and spread the help further.

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(Corrugated hut that doubles as a school)

Phakamisa was set up over 20 years ago and now reaches over 16000 children through their Edu-care program and their Caregiver courses impact over 1900 adults, mostly gogos, who learn self-help skills such as beadwork, sewing, gardening and cooking.

Phakamisa is mostly staffed by volunteers on the ground in the communities, but there are a full-time and part-time staff of 25 people who administer, teach, train, monitor, counsel and mentor. They “Train the Trainers” and support them in their communities and monitor their progress, giving further help and support where needed.

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(Local community outside Durban)

Education is one of the most important things in life. If these children are not given any education they will fall victim to abuse and exploitation of all sorts. AIDS orphans in South Africa will find it almost impossible to get state schooling, so Phakamisa  may be their only hope of progressing in life.

The gogos, already impoverished, find they have one or more mouths to feed and no means to do so. That is why the courses in beadwork, sewing etc. are essential to help them earn a little money to keep life and limb together.

A further element of their work is providing support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS. They provide them with education, counselling, social interaction and life skills for dealing with their illness.

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(one of the pupils from the school)

The unofficial AIDS infection rate for many of the communities in KwaZulu-Natal in which Phakamisa works is 1 in 2 people. HIV/AIDS is devastating these communities and leaving thousands of orphaned children in vulnerable circumstances. Phakamisa is responding but can use all the help it can get.

All the facets of the work Phakamisa does are vital to supporting the communities in which they work and anything we can do to help them will be greatly appreciated.

Phakamisa is a Christian organisation based out of Pinetown Methodist Church but provides its services to people of all religions and none.

You can check out all the work they do through their website HERE