"The hands that care build a nation". That is the motto of the Magau Community Projects, a drop-in centre that supports orphan and vulnerable children from 0-18 years of age, and people living with HIV/AIDS in the largely poor and unemployed community of Phomolong informal settlement, in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.
As a result of a grant of US$15,000 from the U.S. Ambassador's Community Grants program, funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Magau Community Projects will soon open a satellite center in another area of the community.
The project was started by Emily Molokoane in 2003 and was certified as a non-profit organization (NPO) in 2005 by the Department of Social Development. Molokoane, who is originally from Mooi Plaas, Limpopo, said when she saw the situation that many orphaned children were living in, she was touched and wanted to help as she could relate to their predicament. "I started this project because I also came from the same situation as these children. I was raised by my grandfather and never knew my parents, who died when I was a baby," said Molokoane. The grant has been used to purchase a container which will house the satellite centre, enabling the project to reach out to more members of the community.
Molokoane's project, which began with just 10 volunteers, now consists of 32 staff and volunteers. She keeps them motivated though training opportunities provided by the Department of Social Development, amongst others, and believes that it is important for them to gain the knowledge and skills to do this kind of work and develop themselves before they can help others. The project has expanded its services to include skills development, counseling, gardening projects, and cultural activities such as dance and sports. She has also formed partnerships and affiliations with churches, local councilors, schools, and NPOs, such as Hope for Life and Pretoria Child and Family Care Services.
Volunteers provide home-based care to 20 children and 35 adults living with HIV, assist patients with taking their medication, and provide support to child-headed households by taking care of the younger siblings so that the older ones are able to go to school. The daycare center run by the project offers vulnerable children a safe environment during the day. Molokoane's dream is to one day build a bigger facility that will be able to provide shelter to the vulnerable children. "I am looking for a formal setting to build a huge center, where there is a playground for the children, which is safe, and where I'll be able to provide job opportunities for the unemployed," she said.