Lyn @ 1st OVC in Africa Conference, Sandton Convention Centre 31 Oct- 3 Nov 2010.

I attended this inaugural conference from Sunday 31 October tol Wednesday. 3 November.  My daily eports are posted below. Please remember that I am limited by my typing speed and the fact that I am not able to attend al the session at a time!  I also realise that we 'hear' different things, depending on our paradigm and perspective.  So I apologise to the speakers if I did not manage to reflect their thoughts accurately! Some of the presentations are available on the conference website.

Day 4 Wednesday 3 November


Ms Moipone Buda-Ramatlo said she was ‘given’ the topic: Food Insecurity – food vouchers or food parcels. Where are we in this debate?

The speaker questioned the value of this debate and the danger of fragmenting the OVC issue, with the risk of diluting service delivery. She reminded us thatOVC issues are not homogenous, but complex. The desired outcomes of any program are well-resourced children in stable environments. It is critical to note that there is no linear way in which to achieve this.

The key focus should be asset based; strengthening the family, ensuring sustainability, ensuring family income security; be reliable and sustainable, should allow for family self determination.

She warned agains the use of grants, which can disrupt community patterns, and problem solving approaches: Problems occur when children become the government’s children, rather than the community’s children.

Ms Anita Sampson spoke on the PEPfAR support on Orphans & vulnerable children programme in South Africa. She again emphasised the importance of strengthening the family and community and prolonging the life of parents. The PEPfAR program is moving from an emergency response to sustainability with strong focus on country ownership and leadership. Funding will increasingly be channelled to and through government.

Ms Mary Crewe’s presentation had the challenging title “It is Wrong.” I whish I could give a more comprehensive report of this challenging session! She highlighted some suggestions for strengthening the response to young people. Ms Crew presented case studies highlighting some of the emotional challenges of young people who face multiple challenges, even when they have the financial and social support required. She speaks of emotional hollowness or emptiness and wonders how much more severe the emotional effects would be on children in more challenging environments.

She warned that a lot of what we say about orphans make us feel good, but does not make any real difference.

We cannot deal with the complex issues of orphanhood using the constructs of our present thinking. We need a new definition of family, community and identity.

New thoughts required:
-          How we think about young people
o   The term vulnerable places youth opposite society, at the mercy of others.
o   This sets the bar to low – at the bottom level of the Maslow scale
o   Rather think of the Valuable Young People or valuable children– assets for the future
-          Think differently about coping
o   Coping is dealing successfully with adversity
o   Coherent
o   To describe as ‘coping’ families stuck in a chronic form of desperation is not coping.
o   Coping accepts things as they are.
o   People do not want to cope – they want to live.
-          We need to address the social arrangements that accepts the experience of alienation and deprivation of children – orphaned or not.
-          We need to accept new patterns of kinship and belonging.
-          What we do, what we advocate and what we support should firstly consider the wellbeing of the child
Ms Crewe ended her challenging presentation with some thought provoking questions:
Is it always
o   Best to be in an overburdened and extended family situation?
o   negative to have children in community or institutionalised settings?
o   good to develop policies based on culture, past practice or history?

Final Plenary and Rapporteur Session

The rapporteur reports will be on the conference website soon. I will identify the highlights from each track.

Track 1: Treatment, Care and Support – Shanaaz Kaperia Randeria

Our main focus should be on the eed to capacitate and build family and community.

Approaches, highlights and suggestions from sessions
-          Referral and/or support desk services based in community
-          Use of narrative therapy
-          Importance of palliative care
-          Potential of small organisation to have large impact
-          Address faulty messages and perception of educators dealing with special needs children
-          Child rights and child participation should be central in programmes for children
-          Care spectrum
o   Who are caregivers – female, older black
o   Integrating children in extended families is one approach but there can be barriers
-          Accurate data collection, management and auditing is essential for programme improvement.
-          ART is a key factor in PMTCT, and although it is part of the SA Govt programme, it is still not implemented everywhere.
-          Kinship systems, family systems but also non family kinship can play a positive role in caring for orphaned children.
-          Early assessment of brain effects of HIV in babies and children is essential.
-          Some form of cognitive delay is often found in HIV+ as well as HIV exposed children.
-          There are strong links between mental health of carer and that of the child being cared for.
-          Food security and nutrition needs more attention and children can and should be included in ensuring food security (food gardens).
-          Disclosure is an ongoing process and the caregiver should play an active role.

Track 2 – Roundtable Report: Sherri Le Mottee

Round table sessions covered:
-          Lessons of management support
-          Educational support in addressing the needs of OVC
-          Psychosocial support
-          The best interest of the child and young adult.
Thematic Issues
-          Research base –
o   exciting that the practice is informed by sound research
o   some of the issues need much deeper questions and analysis
§ eg issues of undisclosed paternity
-          Integrated models of practice
o   Rights based models
o   Challenges if the abnormal becomes normal – eyes wide shut
o   Children ARE Vulnerable
o   Recognise the spiritual needs!
-          Multi-sectorial response and partnerships
o   Early childhood development crucial
-          Beneficiary and community ownership is crucial
o   Asset based
o   Building community base
o   Whose agendas are we serving – donors/
-          Action orientation
o   Capacity building
o   Language or discourse can be a barrier
o   Materials – impact of information sharing
o   Creative tools – games etc
-          Conclusion
o   Support is multifaceted and multi-dimensional and therefore complex and interwoven!
o   Partnership and cooperation essential
o   Find common language – what is the impact of OVC and the message we convey through this term

Track 3 – Disaster and Risk Management - Noki and Scott

Institutional partnerships
-          Problem bigger than traditional resources
-          Para Social work programmes
o   Institutional relationship
o   Appropriate and certified training
o   Connections with government crucial
o   Need to be community specific
-          Overcoming institutional obstacles
o   Increase data accuracy
o   Twinning
o   Curriculum based training
o   Para social workers
o   Creative training, manual based learning for children
-          Building resilient institutions
o   Maximise resources within reach
o   Mobilize community assets
o   Community ownership and support
o   Passion
o   Know your strength
-          Intervention programmes
o   Multilevel programmes
o   Linked to needs of beneficiaries
o   Combine programmes addressing different aspects
-          Data and knowledge management improvements necessary and beneficial
-          Flexibility crucial
-          Building into the future of children – again asset based work is essential
-          Wellbeing and resilience –
o   large burden on children and caregivers
o   Real factors determining well being of care givers: respect, support and supervision of caregivers more important than stipends and financial factors.
o   Address resilience of children and caregivers together
o   Self care of care givers crucial
o   Address children “where they are”, in their language
-          Services should be provided in the context of a fully functional Child Act
-          Gaps between policy and application to be addressed – such as through legal resource centre
-          OVC care by grandmothers
o   Re-parenting is hard
o   Understand what children are going through
o   From adversity can come creativity and resilience
§ Income generation
§ Food security
§ Vital in paediatric ARV roll out
o   Our limited resources can go and need to go even further
§ Grannies Clubs, support groups etc
o   Maximise the wonderful work done by grandmothers, but do not let the rest of the family ‘off the hook’

Closing Plenary Address – Dr Siobhan Crowley

Dr Crowley highlighted a number of crosscutting themes. She also highlighted a certain areas - in line with the conference theme “Don’t Turn a Blind Eye” - where we need to sharpen our vision:
-          The value of children and young children
-          Make sure everyone on all levels realises our lack of progress on the MDG
-          Capitalise on protecting and nurturing our assets
-          Reframe out thoughts about expected outcomes – children coping is not enough!
She closed the conference by thanking organisers, speakers, donors, participants etc
This conference leaves me with much food for thought, and a determination to provide even more resources to help the church to play its role in responding to the needs of children.

Day 3, Tuesday 2 November.

Plenary Session

In this session, chaired by Dr Tammy Myers, we first listened to the sobering presentation of Prof Brian Eley on the challenges of “Reducing Child Mortality (MDG4)”.

Ms Lynette Mudekunye spoke about “Children Crossing Borders”. Ms Mudekunye mentioned the different types of children crossing borders: The relatively ‘normal’ situation of children crossing with parents or caregivers, children crossing on their own or with group of other children; ‘oscillatory migrants’ that move back and forth between countries and children being trafficked. Sometimes we consider all these children as ‘victims’. But we should remember that children often make a informed choice based on their circumstances and expectations. It is strange to think that a child could be desperate enough to make a conscious choice to leave behind all that is familiar and travel, in many cases for hundreds of kilometers, to another country where they dream of a better future. “These children have purpose, have agency, have hope and have dreams.”

It is clear that the issue of children crossing borders is complex. Ms Mudekunye shared many touching stories of the realities of these children.

Suggestions for addressing the issue:
-          Regional perspective and solutions,
-          Access to documentation for all children,
-          Strengthening child protection and making information about services available,
-          Recognise the agency of these children and support them. Help children in the countries from which they come or help them to go back.

Mr Zane Dangor (?) conveyed a message from the new Minister of Social Development, Ms Dlamini as well as previous minister Ms Molewa.

He emphasised that the protection of children is a key responsibility of the department of social development. This is closely embedded in the rights of the child according to the constitution.

We have good policies to improve maternal and child health – all the good work was countered by the failure to properly address the HIV epidemic.

Session 2 today focussed on Carers and Caregivers

Kerry Steele reported on “Who are the Carers? Using surveys to identify adults caring for vulnerable children”. She again emphasised that the primary burden of care for OVCs lies in the community.

Their study was based on a question in the SA Behaviour and Communication Survey in 2009: “In the past year have you personally cared for a child whose parents died of AIDS?”

If the results are generalised – 2.8 mil people cared for an orphaned child in past year.

The results were compared with burden of disease and regions, and indicated an unequal distribution of care givers in proportion to children requiring care.

Who are the carers?
-          Large differences in provinces
-          More females than males,
-          Predominantly older women
-          Carers typically have a higher level of knowledge about HIV and TB than the general population;
-          Higher levels of testing
-          Highly exposed to communication channels, especially radio and TV
-          About 9% of carers are not reached by mass media

This method of assessing the situation around carers can be very effective, as can mass media. However, methods of communication with the minority should be kept in mind.

Bev Killian highlighted “Community Caregiver Perspectives on their work and challenges”. Once again she mentioned that the extended family bears the brunt of the epidemic in terms of child care.

In KZN alone there are 10 000 community care givers working with children affected by HIV and AIDS - 2.3 mil in Africa

The ‘edge’ these carers have
-          know community
-          Already accepted and trusted
-          Available 24/7 (also problem!)
-          Eager to help out of good will, cultural values, religious beliefs and a sense of empathy and support.
-          Funding agenda drives interventions
-          Timeframe dependency versus sustainability
-          Lack of government support
-          Inadequate protection and care of children
-          Local/indigenous knowledge ignored
-          From same background
-          Religious values
-          Income/potential for future
-          Support
o   Organisational
o   Parents, community educators
o   peers
-          Children
-          Personal responsibility
-          Sense of community
-          Very concerned about career path

David Roth reported on a Self Report Measure of Wellbeing (OWT) for orphans and vulnerable children undertaken in Kenia by Catholic Relief Service.

This presentation outlined an OVC Wellbeing Tool developed by Catholic Relief Services to assess self-reported child wellbeing by measuring 10 domains (food/nutrition, education shelter, economic opportunities, protection, mental health, family, health, spirituality, and community cohesion).

They use different tools for appropriate age groups.

In this evaluation spiritual, educational and family wellbeing scored highest, economic domain lowest.

This can be a useful tool to use in communities in order to evaluate services and interventions required

More info about the tool available on CRS website at

Caroline Kuo reported on the unmet physical and mental health needs of adults caring for orphaned children in a HIV endemic community in SA.

It is clear that caring for orphans can have sever adverse effects on the health of carers.

Protective factors of health include
-          Social support
-          Higher economic status
-          Main source of income is salaries
-          Piped water
-          Formal dwelling
Risk factors include
-          Being female!

All carers of orphaned children had less than optimal health and need interventions.

They suggested the following additional support:
-          Group and individual debriefing,
-          Opportunities to celebrate success,
-          Support and recognition in programme design.

Dr Cluver and Dr Casale continued to address the Relationship between Carer and Child Mental Health in a HIV-endemic community in South Africa. This study was linked to the previous presentation

Orphaned children have poor mental health, as carers of orphaned children can have, and people living with HIV can have. This interplay and linked vulnerability can have serious implications for the mental health of a community

There are close links between depression, anxiety and PTSD in carers and the children they care for. This increases dramatically in AIDS affected families.

-          Family based programmes targeting both carer and child psychological health might have bigger potential impact,
-          Treat both carer and children’s mental health.

After lunch I had to make a difficult decision between attending a session which included presentations on food security, nutrition and disclosure or more about the challenges of carers, social and para-social workers and the best interest of the child and young adult.

The first speaker in the session I attended was Rita Muyambo who spoke about Measuring the Psychosocial wellbeing of community care givers. She emphasised the critical role of NGOs in service delivery at grass root levels

Common stressors
-          Over-involvement and over-identification
-          Boundary problems
-          Stigma and secrecy
-          Lack of socials support
-          Child abuse and neglect
-          Frustration with govt process

In order to measure and evaluate the Thogomelo project, measuring social wellbeing was necessary.

Profile of this group
-          Limited literacy
-          Mostly female

A variety of tools were evaluated – none deemed appropriate

Developed new appropriate scale; was developed and tested (some info available at and

Pre and post training evaluation will be compared.

The process and further development of this tool could be very useful.

Daphyne Williams spoke about the tool developed by CRS and highlighted by David Roth earlier in the session “Creating Age Appropriate self-Report tools for children: Using a pictorial scale to rate wellbeing”. This tool highlights the perception of the child of his family health in 10 different domains. It was decided to use a 5 point rather than a 3point scale in order to identify more nuances and assess change more accurately.

In the evaluation of the younger group (6-8yers) the tool was used in a picture format as well in verbal form. It became clear that what adults, even in a specific culture, read into a picture might not be the same as children see. Culture appropriate might not be child appropriate, and especially not young child appropriate!

Conclusion: It is important to pilot any tool or intervention!

Basani Malambe spoke about “Developing resilience in life through psychosocial support: A community based approach for OVCs and guardians in South Africa. Psychosocial support is only sustainable and manageable if handled as cross-cutting issue. It is however essential as it lays the foundation for the wellbeing of the children in their care.

The Red Cross model is family centred and uses many tools already mention – Memory work, journey of life, hero’s book etc. Remember that psychosocial support is an ongoing process and not a one-time intervention. Although the impact evaluation of the programme will only be done in 2011, there are many positive results reported.

Josianne Roma-Reardon highlighted the OneVoice South Africa Schools Programme: HIV and AIDS prevention with and for young people. OneVoice South Africa ( is a vibrant and unique non-governmental organisation (previously known as Dance4Life), which uses innovative and creative ways of actively involving young people in HIV and AIDS prevention. The programme is appealing to young people because it provides them with a platform to discuss and address HIV and AIDS, sexual reproductive health, gender and human rights issues.

The school programme includes a series of nine workshops which focus on Gr. 8 learners and provide a manual and notebook dealing with Life Skills, Sexual and Reproductive health and management of projects.

Russel Linde presented on the topic “The Children’s Act Requires a Legal Resource Unit.

His personal experience in trying to access legal services around the children’s act motivated his approach for this presentation.

Like any legislation, the Children’s Act has no use if it can not be enforced. He highlighted the serious underfunding in the social and legal domain in order to implement the act.

Interventions of social workers:
-          Far too few
-          Poor resources and infrastructure
-          Insufficient options/alternatives
-          Do not have a good understanding of the Act
-          Legal advice as support and knowledge
-          Assist in court procedures
-          Police more inclined to assist lawyers
-          Training of social workers and others
-          Reduce the technical legal nature of the Act
Relationships between new families and social workers
-          Not enough accountability by social worker
-          Often rights of child overlooked
-          Delay or failure of background check
-          Personal bias
-          Incompetence
-          Misinterpretation of act
The court, social worker and the child
-          Backlog
-          Court not child-friendly
-          Inefficient admin staff
-          Narrow interpretation of law
-          Lawyer can assist social worker
-          Advocacy etc

Conclusion:The potential benefits of such a unit far outweigh the cost and should be seriously considered.

He quoted Samantha Waterhouse: “We do not measure success by the number of laws alone, but rather when all South African children have equal access to the protection and services contained within the legislation”

For the Best Interest of the Child and Young Adult

Dr Sissel Olssen reported on her study to Identify Critical and Key factors determining appropriate school support systems.

Case Study School:
-          Peri-urban Poverty stricken area
-          2/3 brown; 1/3 black
-          Study done during time of Structural and cultural change processes in Education System
-          HIV/AIDS Life Skills programme in schools in Western Cape had many components, but focussed on support to teachers and head masters to support children.
-          Teachers in high denial about HIV in their context, although they admit children are sexually active,
o   Many overage learners,
o   foetal alcohol syndrome
o   Child pregnancy
o   High absenteeism
o   Abnormal signs that could indicate HIV infection are explained as caused by other reasons
-          Poor situation of children and stigma and denial causes selective ‘blindness’ in teachers
-          Poverty related problems not only overlap with the problems of HIV exposure and acerbate them, but can even obscure or hide them.

The recommendations of the study were included in a joint partnership that will focus on the support and wellbeing of teachers.

Mokgadi Malahlela spoke on “Improving the Lives of Orphans and Vulnerable Children through Social Access.”

She highlighted the work of Kheth'Impilo, an organisation whose mission is to support the South African Department of Health in achieving the goals outlined in the National Strategic Plan for the scale up of quality services for the management of HIV/ AIDS in the Primary Health Care sector.

Grant Access Strategy – the organisation is involved in most provinces to facilitate access to identity documents and social grants

More about the organisation at

Evelyne Kamote reported on the Tanzanian approach in “Beyond Handouts! Integrating quality in OVC Services”.

Ms Kamote mentioned many points in the Tanzanian program for ensuring quality in the care of children. An important point for me was that in the focus on MVC – most vulnerable children. They consider the fact that orphans might not necessarily be the most vulnerable, but that a community might have other children, who are not orphans, who could be highly vulnerable for a variety of reasons.

It is important to build consensus on what constitutes quality!

Adele Clark CRS spoke on “Developing Solidarity Among Children Using Therapeutic tools for multiple purposes. She highlighted that 163 mill children have lost one or both parents due to many different causes and that orphans are not the only children who are vulnerable.

Resilience can be strengthened by
-          Supportive family
-          Primary caregiver
-          Social support
-          Connections to competent caring community members outside their own family
-          Basic needs being met

A Toolkit was developed – “Psychosocial care and counselling for HIV- Infected Children and adolescents”. It includes games eg ‘Just like me’ with variety of details and levels and is available online.

Another full and informative day!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Plenary Session 2, chaired by Prof Leickeness Simbayi. Prof Simbayi referred to the cabinet re-shuffle announced yesterday, and mentioned that as Min Molefe is no longer minister of Social Development, her presence at the conference is unsure.

Prof Lorraine Sherr – Bringing up Orphans – Why We Need Support of Families. She highlighted the dilemmas of defining ‘orphan’ and made a plea that we should be clear about what we are speaking about when we talk of orphans.

SSA - 7.5% Paternal Orphan; 5.2% maternal; double orphans 12.1%;

Sub Saharan Africa - 5-10 times higher than other regions.

Family approaches to the challenges of orphanhood and HIV is much more successful than individual models.

88% of orphans are cared for by extended families

Considerations in Orphan care

-          Risk of HIV infection
-          High risk of problems of children who are themselves HIV positive
-          Remember to consider the risk and vulnerability of child before the parent/s die – anxiety, depression, care under adversity
-          A parent is not only a mother – parenting is not just “women’s business” – there is little information on the role of fathers, but much on that of ‘dead fathers’. We need to also consider the positive role of fathers and how important it is to keep them alive for the health of the family.
-          Many risks of institutionalisation
-          Dangers of the focus on orphans
o   Orphan tourism
o   Orphan press appeal
o   Orphan donation appeal
-          Tomorrows problem is HIV exposed children
o   HIV+ and HIV exposed children have many developmental and cognitive delays
o   Interventions can help – many successful reports
§ Treatment of mood disorders
§ Cash transfers

 Prof Sebastian van As: Trauma and Children – A World Perspective

True disasters for children

-          Inequity. 
o   The amount of spending on healthcare does not translate to health
o   In SA population of 50 mil, more or less 20 mil are children
o   Provincial inequity
-          Child injury. Trauma leading cause of child deaths between 1-18 years
o   Many child deaths related to trauma and death
o   Road accidents, drowning, burns
o   Accidental and non accidental trauma
§ Children under 6-8 very vulnerable and depend on adults for safety
§ Supervision in Africa statistically more difficult because
§ Child in SA is 25X more likely to end up in hospital than child in UK
§ 89% of children brought to Red Cross Hospital after motor accidents were not wearing a seatbelt or in a child seat - strap in your child!
-          Alchohol
§ Majority of people dying in homicide or MVA were intoxicated.
§ 80% of all trauma in SA is alcohol related
§ Foetal alcohol exposure is the most common cause of birth abnormalities
-          Child labour
-          War
-          etc

Highligted work of

Child safety starts with all of us

“A better society will and must be measured by the happiness and health of our children”

Nelson Mandela

Dr Zosa de Sas Kropiwnicki: Child Trafficking and Exploitation of Children across Borders

She started of by warning against the sensationalist and inaccurate data often used in this field. The definition of child trafficking is movement of a child with the intention of abuse. In the case of children, permission is deemed to be irrelevant.

If children move ‘on their own’ it is not trafficking, but that does not mean that children that are not trafficked but still abused need less care

The perceived success of SA leads to increased risks and vulnerabilities to trafficking of children from neighbouring countries.

Many criteria for a effective response were mentioned, including that a response should be rights based, protective and interlocking, regional, systemic, intersectorial, comprehensive, participative, appreciative, asset based, family strengthening, capacity strengthening, evidence based

In the first session 1 there were 2 options – ‘Access/Community Based Coordinated Care’ and ‘Lessons of Management Systems Support’

I attended the session on ‘Access/Community Based Coordinated Care’ chaired by Mrs Lynette Mudekunye

Nancy Kemo spoke on “Improving Access to Health Care for OVCs through Community/Health Facility Linkage”.

A help desk managed by specialised care workers increased the access of children to treatment and improved communication and relationships between community health workers and institute based care workers.

Due to stigma care givers in the community is still reluctant to disclose the HIV status of the children in their care.

David Green explained methods of Developing Caring Communities through narrative practices

The assumptions of narrative practice
-          The life of an individual or community has many stories, but the dominant story overshadows the other
-          Through narrative practices used in time of crisis, other stories of skill competencies and resources are elevated to the dominant story
-          Resources and tools from REPSSI can be used at drop in centres, support groups, community level and individually:
o   Ithemba book
o   Tree of life
o   Hero Book
o   Journey of life

By allowing the community the opportunity to share their stories and experiences sustainable approaches can be developed to enhance the wellbeing of children. The stories and approaches can be documented and used by other communities.

Joan Marston spoke of the Sunflower Effect, and how one programme expanded access to palliative care for children in Free State province.

Palliative care is the care of body, mind, spirit of the child with a life limiting disease and includes care of the family.

Palliative care is sometimes confused with end of life care, but is much wider, and includes
-          Immaculate assessment
-          Pain and symptom control
-          Care and support

A multi-sector approach, partnership and networking is crucial, but can provide a rich resource for the effective expansion of palliative care for life limited children to improve their quality of life.

Jacqueline Khumalo highlighted the magic of networks in supporting organisations that work with orphans and vulnerable children.

The CINDI (Children in Distress) Network does capacity building and provides networking opportunities for the organisations in the area responding to children.

An analysis was given based on a study of 176 member organisations of CINDI

Benefits of the network which were identified in the study include:
  • Networking
  • Capacity Building
  • Advocacy
  • Resource mobilization

Sumaya Mall highlighted the Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS of deaf and hard of hearing adolescents: and the Perceptions of educators in Schools in South Africa.

Literature shows increased risk of abuse as well as low self esteem amongst disabled people, including people who are deaf and hard of hearing. This can be acerbated by the fact that there are limited or culturally inappropriate educational resources for people with hearing disability.

A study on selected schools for the deaf explored condom policies, perceptions of sexual risk behaviour in deaf learners etc


After lunch I attended a session on Institutional Partnerships chaired by Dr Sissel Olsen


The first speaker was John Capati, who spoke of the use of Social Work Partnerships to Build Sustainable Capacity to address the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. He introduced the work of the Twinning Centre which created 30 North-South and 9 South – South twinning agreements.

Twinning is flexible, collaborative and gets results.

Key elements of twinning
-          Institution to institution pairing
-          Peer to peer prof. Relationships
-          Prof. Exchanges and mentoring
-          Volunteer driven
-          Leverage private sector institutional resources
-          Non prescriptive but rigorous approach to collaborative process, work plan development and outcomes
-          Demand driven
-          Benefit to both partners

He highlighted the work done to strengthen the work of social work auxillaries, or para social workers. This untapped resource links to the community and further capacity building helps to augment the severe shortage of trained social workers in the community.

It was initially important to create a share understanding of the role of this group. Curriculum development is crucial, although there are universal principles, it is also crucial to make it specific to the context and environment. Structured follow up is essential for the success of the process.

Various country representatives reported on the success the programme had in their country

-          Leah Natujwa Omari from Tanzania

-          Justice Chukwudi Ulunta - Nigeria

Marietta Slabbert spoke about a Motivation strategy for rural advancement. She highlighted the work of the Ndlovu Care Group that works through Autonomous Treatment Centre (ATC) and Community Health Awareness Mobilization & Prevention (CHAMP)

Once again the importance of working from an asset based perspective was emphasised.

Ndlovu adapted the Hertzberg Theory of motivation to behaviour change communication

Story from a project: Maria, you get a food parcel and school uniforms, why do you still not go to school? I don’t sleep at night, our door does not lock, and I am afraid people come in at night and rape me and my siblings.

I very interesting session by Susan Wilkenson Maposa focussed on “Understanding Organisational Resilience: How organisations supporting child well being survived Zimbabwe’s socio economic collapse.”

The Firelight Foundation was interested that all grantee partners of the foundation in Zimbabwe survived the socio-economic collapse, even though these organisations are often seen as ‘low resourced organisations’.

An inquiry by the foundation into 22 organisations asked:
-          What were your biggest challenges
-          How did you overcome this
-          What do you view as your most important strength

The results showed:

-          Restriction on public gatherings
-          Devaluation of funds
-          Decrease in monetary flow
-          Education system collapse
-          Transport
-          Food insecurity
-          Drought and water shortage
4 main responses
-          Scale back on programme delivery
-          Maximised resources within your reach
-          Mobilise community assets to fill gaps
-          Build and leverage relationships (other organisations, government etc) to spread problems and enhance problem solving

Community based organisations identified 5 resources or strengths they depended to help them survive in challenging conditions

-          Staff commitment, cohesion and confidence
-          Community ownership
-          Supportive community leadership
-          Stakeholder networks
-          Staff and volunteer passion

This is supported by literature where the following 5 behaviours can be identified which are used to construct resiliency in organisations

-          Organisational culture – know who you are, what you do, how you d it
-          Situational awareness
-          Inter-dependence
-          Social capital -
-          Bricolage – use what is at hand

The presentation was one of the highlights of my day. We have all seen so many organisations overcome challenges, where it seems humanly impossible, and do remarkable work. It was good to be reminded that the strengths that help organisations overcome hardship is often internal and local, and does not necessarily depend on tangible factors or external resources.

 Nataly Woolett spoke about “Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence: the Overlooked Victims”. She spoke about Trauma Focussed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in a art and play based group in a domestic violence shelter. 

USA research shows that a third of US children are exposed to violence in the home. SSA probably higher!

Natalie highlighted the high incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Complex Psychological Trauma in children in South Africa.

Creative art therapies have much strength in dealing with trauma. A process was explained where therapy of this kind was used with children, with very good results.

Many resources are available eg the book “A Terrible Thing Happened: A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma”. More info at


Opening Session, Sunday 31 October

The opening session started with a song “When will the Children Play Again”, starkly sketching the reality and asking ‘how many children must raise more children before we take a stand?’. Suddenly this does not seem ‘just a conference’ but the reality of children who are unable to play or laugh, because they are raising more children. Tina Schouw - South African Singer Songwriter touched the participants’ hearts.

The opening session was billed as follows. 

  • Dr Ashsaf Grimwood CEO Kheth ‘Impilo Conference Chair

  • Hon Minister Bomo Edna Molewa Welcome Address –

  • Dancing with the Darkness on my Back

  • Dr Annette Gerritsen, EPI Result: Estimating the Need for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Services in the city Tswane Metropolitan Municipality 2010

  • Dr Nono Silemela; CEO SANAC: SANAC’s National Plan of Action for OVC’s

However, as Dr Ashsaf Grimwood CEO Kheth ‘Impilo welcomed participants as the conference chair, he also announced that Min of Social Dev Edna Molewa is unable to attend this evening and Dr Silemela would be unable to attend due to ill health. It is quite a disappointment that these two ‘star’ speakers are not here.

Dr Grimwood highlighted what had been achieved around development and MDGs, but also the challenges that remain for children and the opportunities to address these.

Dr Johanna Kistner and the children Sophiatown Children on the Move Project presented “Dancing with the Darkness on my Back. Children’s Sories of Hope and Courage.” Firstly we were reminded that these children do not think of themselves as OVC’s – they reminded us:

-          I am also a singer
-          I am a person
-          I am a strong young women
-          I have a right to be called by my name
-          I have some dreams – I am tomorrows future

We listened to the children’s stories; stories of death, of loss, of xenophobia, of displacement of overcrowding, of living with multi –cultural life, of displacement, but mostly of “Dancing the darkness away” the incredible resilience of children in the midst of multiple challenges.

Dr Annette Gerritsen’s presentation covered “Estimating the Need for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Services in the city Tswane Metropolitan Municipality, 2010”.

Key activities in Tswane in 2010 included
-          the launch of the HCT campaign;
-          FIFA HIV awareness campaign
-          Hide and seek; Find and treat
-          HCT in schools

A survey was done on service providers in Tswane between 2005 and 2010:

-          In 2010 72% service providers were NGOs, 18% Public sector; FBO and Private below 10%
-          In time of study public sector services reduced, while NGOs increased. This is positive, as NGOs are close to the community. However, it can be a problem as NGOs are less involved with treatment programmes
-          More than 75% of all support related services in Tswane are offered by NGO/FBOs. Care for OVC is primarily done by FBO/NGOs
-          57% of all treatment related services are provided by public sector
-          In 2010 Tswane had an estimated 82 540 maternal AIDS orphans with 212 service providers – which means an average of 389 orphans per service provider. Although this is still very high, it is improving.

Conclusion – The overall picture of service provision in Tswane is more positive than 2009. The unique information obtained by the survey will assist the metropolitan municipality in their planning in future

The Ndlovu choir entertained participants before we were invited to attend the opening cocktail function.

The function was hosted by SABCOHA and highlighted the “Camp I Am” programme, an exciting public/private/NGO initiative for 15 000 children during the extended 2010 school holiday. Hopefully this successful programme wil be extended in future.

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