Starfish Greathearts Foundation

Expansion of community based services for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, South Africa

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Registered Charity in England and Wales (1093862)


Amount raised





  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Disaster ReliefDisaster Relief
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Poverty Alleviation/ReliefPoverty Alleviation/Relief


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



The AIDS pandemic has had a devastating impact in South Africa with up to 1,000 adults currently dying as a result of AIDS every day. It is expected that between five and seven million people will die from AIDS (South African Medical Research Council) and more than two million children made vulnerable and orphaned by 2010 (Children on the Brink – UNICEF, UNAIDS, USAID). Four of the most effected provinces of KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape will be home to more than a million orphans by the end of 2008, overwhelming countless communities. A child’s life often falls apart when he or she loses a parent. Increasing numbers of children are living with sick or dying parents or in households already over crowded with orphans. Moreover, the pandemic is deepening poverty in entire communities, with children usually the first to suffer from the deprivation. Children watch their mother or father fall ill, nurse their dying parents and take on responsibility for finding resources to survive. They are vulnerable to HIV infection, violence and malnutrition, all of which are exacerbated by poverty. As a result of this extreme vulnerability imposed on orphaned children, the crude child mortality rates in South Africa have more than doubled since 1995. Many older siblings are forced to stay at home and look after younger brothers and sisters. These children are unable to attend school because they have become responsible for their households – ensuring that their younger siblings receive food and care. Children are forced to abandon education which represents the only long term and sustainable means to building independent and successful lives, and lifting families and communities out of poverty in the future. Without help, many will live lives of poverty and hopelessness, turning to activities such as sex work or crime in order to survive. Starfish Greathearts Foundation has developed a model of holistic care, which we are supporting grassroots organisations to deliver. These service packages are designed to meet all the basic care needs of the most vulnerable children in a community. Starfish is currently inundated with communities in need of our assistance in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal Provinces, and have a number of grassroots organisations that have met our required criteria in terms of accountability, risk and location. We are aiming to roll out this model of care to at least four additional communities in the 2009 financial year. Each community based organisation will be partnered to deliver a range of services in order to meet the basic needs of orphans in their community with a complete service for orphans and fostering families. Nutritional support will be provided through a combination of soup kitchens and food parcels. Soup kitchens provide hot nutritional food using fresh vegetables at least once per day. Food parcels are distributed to the most vulnerable households with no income from government grants. These households are usually those with children caring for sick or dying parents or child headed households immediately after the loss of the primary income provider to AIDS. Projects will also build food gardens, which increase the level the food security and project sustainability by reducing costs and increasing access to nutrition, providing fresh vegetables for children. Educational support will be delivered through a combination of educational resources for the most vulnerable children, day care for infant orphans and after school support programmes focussing on home work support and life skills. For children in crisis, educational resources required to attend school will be provided to ensure they can continue their education even during times of great trauma. Day care for infant orphans will enable older children in child headed households to attend school safe in the knowledge that their younger siblings are within a safe and caring environment. Day care also delivers the necessary pre-school educational enrichment required by young children to ensure that they are prepared to attend school at the age of seven. After school support programmes focus on helping children to complete homework assignments as well as teaching life skills for those living in child headed households such as cleaning and cooking. Additionally, children are provided with a safe environment for socialising, significantly decreasing the risk of orphans being exposed to crime, sexual exploitation, drugs and alcohol. A social worker will be employed to co-ordinate home based care services. Each organisation will be supported with 10 volunteer caregivers to work with the social worker. Every caregiver will support 10 households with children caring for sick or dying children, children in crisis (immediately following the death of their parents for example) and child headed households. Caregivers will be supported with a small monthly stipend since they are usually older women and highly disadvantaged in their own right having often lost their own children to AIDS. Home based care is a vital component to the model of support, providing direct intervention through outreach and regular visits from the social worker and volunteer caregivers. Support is provided on cooking, cleaning, safety within the community and psychosocial care. Caregivers will make referrals to socials services, obtain ID documents for children and access government grants for orphans such as the Child Support Grant, Foster Care Grant and School Fees Exemption, so that children are not dependent on projects financially long term. Importantly, this activity enables projects to refocus resources on newly orphaned children and builds sustainability into the programme of work. We anticipate the four grassroots organisations to provide the following combined outcomes per annum for two years in four communities: •Provide nutritional support for 400 children per day for five days per week •Support 240 children to attend school with educational resources •Provide day care for 300 children per day for five days per week •Provide psychosocial care to 240 children •Provide after-school support programmes for 200 children •Provide home based care for 400 households or 1,200 children