Enjindini is a former township close to the picturesque mining town of Barberton in the Makonjwe hills bordering Swaziland. Like other poor South African communities, Enjindini has felt the devastation of the Aids pandemic. In 1998 the local community was so concerned about the growing number of orphaned children in Enjindini that it decided to do something. Out of this was born the Thandanani Home-Based Care project.
Home-based care is a programme set up by local people to help orphans in the community. There are presently 466 such programmes, reaching some 330,000 people in the whole of South Africa. The Thandanani Project is funded by voluntary donations, by the British High Commission and by the Government, through the local council.
Of the 244 orphans in Enjindini, 34 are children who head their household and are responsible for looking after, feeding, clothing and educating younger brothers and sisters. Thandanani tries to support these vulnerable children in various ways:
- The community planted a food garden to provide food boxes for the orphans and other needy families.
- Volunteer care workers, mainly older women in the community, visit orphan-headed homes on a daily basis to provide advice and support. They also help make sure younger children are cared for and the older children go to school.
- Bereaved families are comforted, advice on HIV/Aids is provided and help with medication is given.
The biggest struggle is to de-stigmatise the disease and to break down the wall of silence in the community. Often people won’t talk about HIV/Aids or admit it exists. Sometimes sufferers are excluded from the community, such is the fear and ignorance surrounding the issue in remote areas.
Home-based care is seen as a cheap and effective way to help those who are both infected and affected by the HIV virus. Pressure on hospital beds is reduced and local carers understand the needs of sufferers in their community. Because of the awareness created in the community HIV/Aids victims and their families are not isolated, but supported instead.