Kwethu Children’s Village is a residential facility caring for orphans and vulnerable children since 2004. It is located in the Amangwe tribal region of Loskop, Estcourt.
The volunteers who started this village, from the USA, were moved with compassion for families and children devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. According to UN projections at the time, 4 million children would be left orphaned by a rapidly spreading HIV virus.
We found the large property, on the banks of the Injesuthi River near the Injesuthi Clinic in Gourton, Loskop in winter of 2004. It was formerly a cement block factory, with many rooms for labourers. These were modified into 3 room apartments to hold 6 children and a caregiver. A lease was negotiated with the Chief’s family, who were enthusiastic to welcome a compassionate care center for the children of this community.
A school teacher at Nkosi Mjwayeli Primary up the road from Kwethu, formerly known as Agathos, came to tell us of a large group of cousins and siblings left orphaned, being cared for by an old grandmother and one surviving aunt. We went over the mountain of Draycott to Mahtlushini and offered to take in 13 of these children. The eldest was 16, the youngest 3 years old.
The day this extended family group arrived at Kwethu, singing with jubilation and hope, was a day of great beginnings. We had already taken in 8 children, with 2 caregivers and their 4 children and this brought the number of children up to 25. Managing staff were a succession of US/South African volunteers. More caregivers were hired, a central kitchen up and running, children enrolled in local schools, vitamins & good food strengthened malnourished bodies and the love of Jesus brought a glow of lovelight over a little community where being a neglected orphan was replaced by belonging and promise of never being alone again.
Over the 17 years, children have come and gone, with about 51 children staying 2 years or longer with us.
Where are we now….
The kids have grown up, some have graduated from tertiary and living independently, others are still on the way to that coveted milestone. We celebrate them getting good jobs, promotions, first cars, driver’s license. We even have ‘grandchildren’. We’re proud of our kids! We applaud our long time staff.
Kwethu Children’s Village property has no children living on it at present. The Teen Independent Living home, on a separate, local property, supports our grown ‘kids’ making their transition to independence, with a purpose built dorm and a supporting parenting and counselling by Mr and Mrs Mbongwa .
13 February we woke up to terrible news. Our village was hit by a flashflood that washed away parts of our dining hall, destroyed our communal kitchen, fencing and all the offices. With very little funding rebuilding seems like an impossible mission. I am reminded by a very motivating quote by our former president "It always seems impossible until it is done".
And where we are headed ….
We have experienced what it is to raise orphans and vulnerable children to a promising adulthood. We love this work, we want to continue!
Our vision is to re-open our doors and hearts to foster children, to provide the same level of care and support we have been so successful in doing in the recent past. We have two purpose built houses on the Kwethu riverside property that can be readied into warm, safe homes.
What needs to be done so we can reach our goal to re start our residential program?
1. Re-establish safety and security.
- The fence line was severely damaged with flooding in recent rains.
- Hire professional security service
Amount needed: R15 000
2. Renovation and restoration of existing houses.
- Ijuba House needs ceilings repair, plumbing and electrical repair, and painting inside and out.
Amount needed: R20 000
- We have architect plans to expand Riverside Cottage into 3 bedrooms with kitchen and bathroom enlarged.
Amount needed R35 000
3. Complete and furnish boys dorm at Teen Independent Living
- Ceilings and flooring
- Beds, chairs, sofa, table, linens
Amount needed: R50,000 or donations of flooring, ceilings, furniture and linens
4. Vegetable Garden for our own use and for sale.
The garden area exists and needs more consistent planting and harvesting, soil enrichment.
Amount needed R15 000
4. Bakkie or van to use for maintenance and transport
Amount needed R150 000
5. Rebuild a hall and kitchen and office area after a recent flood destroyed our existing one.
Amount needed: R60 000
How can you help?
Volunteer painting, property clean up, repairs, landscaping.
Donations in the form of materials, equipment, vehicles or funds.
Together, we can continue making a difference in this rural community, for children and families.
CONTACT: Zeenath Whitcomb/ Barbara Borgman
Cell: 0832845900/082 652 4839