Isiphephelo/Isibani …. Whats new?

We have great news, Zanele Mchunu, previously of World Vision, Bergville has recently joined our team. Since starting in July she has taken over the management of the organization, Zanele comes with lots of experience and knowledge in terms of community development and she is taking the organization to a new level in order to help us better support our community.

You will no doubt have noticed that the new Community Hall is now open and operational, it is an huge space and such a blessing. The Mobile clinic has now moved its services across and the new space enables the health services to be much better organized. Services are able to be delivered more effectively and efficiently by making use of all the extra facilities and space.

The Dept of Health are in the midst of handing over the distribution of all chronic medication to a private company that will make the pickup of medications more efficient and ideally available from locations closer to the patients home.

Isibani’s role has always been to bridge the gap between what the community needs and what the government is offering, this now means that we can now focus our attention now on the social issues and the long term sustainable projects that will uplift this community.

As we mentioned in an earlier article the Old Celimfundo / Isibani site (better known as the yellow buildings opposite the turn to Cathedral Peak and Emmaus owned by NG Kerk Winterton) is again being used by Celimfundo primary school. The site is able to offer another 9 classrooms to the school whose current site otherwise caters for more than a 1200 students in 15 classrooms. This is still in transition.

This now leaves us with two main sites, Isiphephelo Place of Safety in Mayors walk and our new welfare site in Khetani township, known as Ekukhanyeni. Our welfare site runs a weekday soup kitchen and is the base for Matthew 25 food distribution, trainings, workshops, welfare and awareness programmes.

Other news is that Sofi, the founder and until recently the manager of Isibani and Isiphephelo is leaving us for a new adventure. After many years of service Sofi and her family are taking a couple of years out to live, work and for Doong and Miya, attend school in the UK. We wish her all the best and hope she remembers to pack her rainwear !!

As an organization we would like to thank you all once again for the support we receive from the community and churches. Thank you for your prayers, gifts, donations and acts of service, it truly is a community owned organization.


Isibani and Matthew 25

We have been busy over the Christmas period with renovations to our new site as Isibani also transitions into the new year and a new season.

You will have read in previous updates that we are moving into Khetani to be closer to the community we serve and to be more accessible to those in need, the renovations are going well and we expect to be in our new site very soon.

Together with Matthew 25 we are delivering pre-cooked meals to those in need In Khetani; we deliver to people’s homes so are able to pray with them and walk with them as they navigate life’s challenges. Through these regular home visits, twice weekly, we are able to monitor our clients and ensure they are receiving help appropriate to their current need. Logistically we are not able to visit the farms so often so families living outside of Khetani still receive maize meal plus supplementary food parcels.

We work closely with SAPS and are often invited to accompany them to homes where there have been reports of abuse, this ensures that the victims receive suitable counselling from the outset and we are grateful to SAPS for allowing us to assist them in this area.

We hope in 2016 we can continue to build relationships built on trust and that we can offer care and practical support to those in need. Please continue to pray for everyone involved in this ministry.

Isiphephelo Place of Safety Update

wton news update_photo

On behalf of Isiphephelo, both children and staff, we would like to thank the local Winton community and all our overseas friends for their support of the place of safety throughout 2015. Thank you in particular to those of you who brought Christmas gifts and for making Christmas a very special time for our children (despite having an outbreak of mumps).

We admitted 28 new children during 2015, of these children 9 were able to be re-united with family members, 8 were placed in children’s homes and 11 are still with us as we start 2016. 2015 was an awesome year, full of God’s grace and provision, we continue to learn so much as we grow together as a team and care for the children placed in our care.

There are so many people to thank, people that make our work possible: our loyal staff, volunteers and board members, SAPS, the Winterton Community who help us in so many ways from grass cutting, homework support, sorting and packing clothes, Sunday school lessons to donations of food and clothing. Thank you, we really do appreciate everything you do, however big or small.

Over the past year we have seen children grow and mature, we have seen their personalities develop, we have laughed, we have cried , we have loved and we have being loved and we look forward to 2016 with anticipation of what God has in store for us next ..


Update from the Isibani Health Team – Sindy and Ncami

Mobile Clinic
The mobile clinic visits Isibani twice a month and since we started working so closely together there has been a huge improvement in the level of service. The Isibani health team are able to make sure that we screen all patients and do vital signs to make things easier for the clinic staff. Because we are able to do the initial screening the clinic staff are able to see many patients each day,  +/- 300 per clinic day. After we have done the screening we make sure that those who are very sick are seen first so that they can be sent to hospital for further management.

Club Day
In addition to the twice monthly clinic days, the pharmacist from our local hospital, Emmaus, also comes every other Monday to hand out chronic medication including ARV’s.  This is far more convenient for our clients as they live in and around Winterton and on surrounding farms and a trip to Emmaus hospital is expensive and time consuming. We have seen that having medication easily accessible helps to minimize the number of defaulters.
The Isibani health team is also on hand to screen patients and to ensure that those who have side effects and develop other sickness are referred to hospital.  This is particularly important because we have seen clients become resistant to treatment and develop other diseases which need to be treated immediately to prevent complications.
When people come to the clinic or to collect their medication we make sure we give health education on different topics, we have found this to be very effective and our clients are happy to participate.

HCT (HIV counselling and testing) and adherence training
It is so good for us to see that there are more people who come for testing especially males as they have been a reluctant group in the past.  Even if they test positive we are seeing a change in attitude where they take their status more seriously, listen to our advice and ensure they start on treatment.
It is not good that people are still living lives that expose them to the risk of HIV but if they do choose to risk exposure we are thankful at least that they choose to take action to know their status.
We also do patient literacy, this is a workshop attended by all clients who have tested positive and is compulsory before they start on ARV treatment. The purpose of the workshop is to help clients understand the importance of adherence to the treatment and to be aware of minor and major side effects. It also helps them to know the danger of not taking treatment properly or defaulting. We make sure that we do further adherence training with those who have defaulted the treatment and try to identify the reason for their default..

This year in March, we had a male client who came in having had half of his foot amputated. The wound was so bad and smelly that it was the first time for both of us to see something as bad as that.  The good news, though, is that with regular cleaning and dressing changes the wound completely healed and the client is so very happy.
Whilst doing home visits around the township we came across another client who is diabetic, she had very bad sores (ulcers) on her left leg. She had been advised that she may need an amputation but she decided to stay at home until we were able to visit here. Again with regular cleaning and dressing changers the healing is going very well.  There are so many other dressings we are doing and we are so proud that they we have been able to help so many people.
For most people a trip to Emmaus Hospital is expensive, impractical and can involve very long waiting times.  That is why so many people after surgery or treatment fail to return for dressing changes.  We are always happy to help with these cases as we have seen so many times the importance of keeping wounds clean so they can heal properly and not cause further infections.

Home Visits
We spend at least four days each week conducting home visits to our clients.  They may be people who are just starting treatment, those who are very sick or some who are disabled.  For us it is so good that we have a lot of time to see our clients and to spend time with them, not just dealing with the medical condition but talking with them, praying with them and sharing the word of God with them.

Every time we see a client we pray to God for His mercy because we cannot do this work on our own.  It is only possible because He is our pillar of strength. Without God, there is no way to do anything.

Ncami : Don’t wear a mask, just be yourself.
Sindy : God is the light, lets share it with those who need it.

Issues with Birth Certificates and ID books

A case was reported to me where children were not going to school because they didn’t have birth certificates, they were staying at home doing nothing whilst other children went to school.  I went to the school and talked with the principal to see if he could help, the children are now at school just like all the other children and their mother is so happy she was singing the praises of Isibani and said that Isibani really did bring the light to their situation.

Sometimes we come across families with missing birth certificates or ID books, this does cause challenges when they want to enroll in school or later in life when they want to find a job.  It is possible to obtain these documents but can mean a few trips to home affairs.  Isibani are able to help by letting our clients know exactly what documents they should take, this saves a lot of wasted trips.

Helping with food parcels and other challenges
Part of my role at Isibani is to help with delivery of food parcels, we deliver to a few farms around the Winterton area feeding those who can’t feed themselves.  Often when visiting with a food parcel we come across other challenges in the household.  We recently found a young mum who has 4 children, she is an orphan and has no ID book.  Without an ID book she cannot claim social grants for her children, she does not have a birth certificate herself and with both parents deceased it becomes more difficult for her to get an ID.
We were able to assist by taking her and her aunt to home affairs where they were interviewed,  the young mum and the aunt are interviewed separately about their family structure and then the answers compared to ensure they were telling the truth and the identity of the young mum can then be confirmed.  After the interviews are successfully completed the ID application can be made.  She is now waiting for her ID book to be issued.
She was very happy to have received help as she has suffered for a long time without an ID book.

We are able to help lots of people with ID books and birth certificates, mostly this just involves giving them information about the process but in some cases we assist further by offering transport assistance and we also follow up on the progress of the application.  This is necessary in extreme cases of poverty or for our disabled or vulnerable clients.

Feeding at the primary school
We have recently started a feeding programme at our local primary school, Celimfundo.  The department of education provides one cooked meal to all children attending school but we know that for some children this may be the only decent meal they have each day.  We are now working with the school and providing a further meal to children as they leave school.  More than this, by being present at the school and meeting the children, we see those who clearly have other social problems, in these cases we can accompany the child home, meet the family and see if there are further areas where we can offer help.
The community are very grateful for the support we are offering with food for their children.
We also deliver meals to people who have health problems and are struggling to look after and feed themselves.  We pre-cook these meals and deliver them to our clients who then just need to warm them up at mealtimes.  Reaching out to these clients is an important part of our work, they need to take their medication with food and when they have no food they tend to default on their medication creating further health problems.  We are able to assist these clients until they get back on their feet.

From Thandi

Social Case Reports from Xoli

Aside from our residential facility, Isiphephelo place of safety, we also have an outreach programme which we call Isiphephelo Outreach.  We work with our local community in their own homes and on the streets coming across many wide ranging social issues.
Here is an update on a few cases that our auxiliary social workers have been dealing with recently:

Absenteeism from School
Three girls staying in our local township, Khethani, were reported to us as they were not attending school  (2 siblings and their friend). They were counselled about the importance of school and the advantages of attending school and they eventually agreed to return.
It was identified that the friend had run from her foster mother in Bergville -Oliviershoek and had been staying with the 2 girls in Khetani.  In a situation like this where a child has run away it is important that proper procedures are followed so we reported the case to the local social worker who was able to conduct her own investigation.  After meeting with the girl and the foster mum the social worker was able to return the child home and she is now back in Oliviershoek and attending a new school.
One of the siblings decided to leave Khetani and moved to Loskop to attend school there,  she since returned to Khetani but is not attending school,  again the case was referred to the local social worker.

The other sibling is back and school but came to the office to complain about her sister hiding her school uniform and books meaning she had missed 5 days of school,  she told us she wanted to leave school now and go to live with her Aunt.  We counselled her again and she agreed to return to school.  The school principal asked for a meeting which went well and the child is now back in school and we have regular follow up sessions with her to monitor her progress.
Unfortunately absence from school and moving from one home to another is not uncommon.  Children grow up with so little stability in their lives.  We intervene where we can and offer counselling, support and advice.

More challenges with schooling
A family from Lesotho came to our office to explain their children were attending school some distance away and they could no longer afford the taxi money so their children were being forced to drop out of school.
We were able to talk to the principals of both their existing school and the local school in Khetani and it was agreed that the children should be transferred to the school closer to home.  The parents were very happy and thankful.
Often community members don’t feel able to tackle situations like this alone.  A huge part of our work is to advocate for the best interests of our clients.  We are thankful that community members feel they are able to share their problems with us and we are then able to work together to find a solution.

Behavioural Problems
A mother came to us for advice regarding her son,  she had taken new children into her home and her own son had started “behaving strangely”, he was jealous, angry and didn’t want to help out with chores.
We attended the home and met with the family to conduct counselling and suggested a few practical things to help them resolve conflict.
The mother returned to our office to say her son is so amazing, he has drawn a roster and each child takes a share of duties, we were delighted to hear about his progress and the mother was also happy that we could talk with her children.
Staff and volunteers at Isiphephelo come from far and wide, we have local Zulu volunteers as well as volunteers from England, Australia, Germany, Belgium, USA etc, some permanent and some just visiting   We are privileged to be able to attend training courses dealing with child behaviour and often have volunteers running sessions for us in these areas.  It is great when we are able to put some of the theory into practice and to see the amazing changes that can be made in a household.

Visits to ex Place of Safety Children
We visited some children who had previously lived with us at the place of safety, we wanted to check how they were doing and we gave them some clothes, they were very happy to see that they are still being recognised and loved by us.
One child, a girl of 16 years is still receiving counselling, she was the victim of a recent sexual assault by a family member.  A medical report was done and a police case opened.  The family on perpetrator’s side wanted to have negotiations with the victim’s family in order that a settlement could be reached and the case would be withdrawn but the family of the victim refused.
Negotiations and subsequent compensation are a very common way of settling abuse cases in this area so it was very encouraging to us that the victim’s family showed support to the girl and wanted to pursue the proper course of law.

Long term client
It is always good to hear success stories from our long term clients, we have known and assisted one particular lady for around 7 years now, after many years of only getting casual jobs she has secured a full time job as a domestic worker with a family in Emmaus.  For years she has been struggling financially and searching for jobs and she has finally found something.  She moved her two youngest children leaving an older sister with neighbours in Khethani, we will monitor this child to ensure she has sufficient food, is taking her medication correctly and is generally well and cared for.  The client was very happy that every month she will receive the sum of R800-00 and she will be able to save some from this money and make her children happy.
It is not uncommon for guardians to leave their children to go off to find work.  Because this lady is from Lesotho she does not have a South African ID book and getting work is therefore so much more difficult,  as long as we have known her she has worked in the fields doing whatever casual work she could find.  She has survived various health challenges and poverty through sheer determination, the goodwill of neighbours and assistance with food parcels.  We are delighted she has now found work.

Home Visits
We have continued to conduct home visits in and around Khetani meeting with clients who needed help with their health, family unification and also for counselling sessions to the victims of rape. We were happy to have a LifeLine facilitator visiting for the second time and offering monitoring and coaching for us specific to the cases we are dealing with.  She helps with any challenges we have and will visit us again soon.
We are blessed to be able to work with and partner with other organisations such as LifeLine to work together to serve the community.  LifeLine focus on counselling around sexual abuse and we have learnt a lot from them.

Counselling Sessions
Last week we were called in a nearby school to offer counselling to three girls children who are the victims of rape and sexual abuse.  The children talked freely during our counselling sessions and the counselling will be conducted weekly with these children for as long as they want or need it.
Whilst we are grateful that schools contact us to deal with situations such as this it is always heartbreaking to discover more cases of abuse.    We are thankful for our team of staff and volunteers who give their time and love so freely to reach out to others.
Isiphephelo outreach is an important part of our work and these are just a few stories and updates from our recent cases.
Please keep the people mentioned here and our community at large in your prayers.

From Xoli

Isiphephelo place of safety journey

A reflection on the journey so far.
Last month we held an open house at our place of safety in Winterton and were delighted to welcome around 40 community members to share our story so far,  for those of you not able to join us read on to share in our story ..

The Isiphephelo project was originally born out of Isibani.  As a community drop in centre, Isibani became very aware of the need for more services to care for abused, abandoned and vulnerable children.  Time and time again we were told that children could not be removed from abusive and unsuitable conditions because there was nowhere to take them.  It was then that the seed was planted and the journey began.

Our first steps were to visit existing child care facilities all over KZN to learn, it was a great start to our journey as we met some amazing people and learnt so much about not only the passion of the staff running the facilities but about the daily challenges they face.
We located what we believed to be a suitable site in Emmaus, we met with the owners and after much discussion it was agreed that we could lease the site and we started with some minor renovations.  It was at that point that we felt God telling us we must stop.  Despite our natural instinct to just keep going, we chose to stop and wait for God to reveal his new plan ..

Within a week God showed us an almost derelict house, within Winterton itself, we phoned the municipality and found out that the house would be going for auction the following week.  We looked around the house and saw it needed a lot of work, had no idea what it would all cost but just knew that it would be perfect for our needs, we saw from our first visit (amid the falling ceiling boards and trailing wires) where the bedrooms would be, where the house mum would sleep, where we would have the playroom etc.
And now the miracles really started.  We had no money to buy a house so we approached the funders of Isibani and asked if we could use our budget for operating costs to buy the house and they said YES.

On the day of the auction we arrived at the house just in time, only to find the auction was taking place in Bergville!  We really wanted this house so were very nervous.  We prayed and asked for God’s will to be done.  On our way to Bergville we received a call from someone we had met when viewing the house who told us they felt it was meant to be ours.  At the auction we met other members of the Winterton community who later told us they chose not to bid because felt the house should go to us and it did.  We had bought a house !!

And now the renovation .. we still had no idea what it would cost or how we would pay for it but the Winterton and surrounding community blessed us beyond our greatest expectations, the house was re-wired at no cost,  half of the cost of the renovation was covered, furniture was provided, the kitchen was ripped out and replaced at no cost, shelving was made, bedrooms were furnished, the garden was landscaped and on and on and on.

This project would simply have not been possible without this community so thank you, thank you, thank you.

We moved in with our first children in April 2013 and since then have cared for 66 children who have been removed from vulnerable or dangerous situations.  Of those children the majority have been girls and a large proportion have suffered some form of sexual abuse.  Our youngest admission so far was just a few weeks old and our oldest child so far was 14.

The children stay with us for up to 6 months, although it can be longer, the aim is that we provide temporary safe care until a more permanent placement can be found.   Based on our children so far, around 1/3 have left us to children’s homes with 2/3 been returned to family / extended family members.
We keep in touch with our children once they have left and some leavers have been returned to us when their home situation didn’t work out.  We are only offering temporary safe care but we hope that whilst with us the children can begin their process of healing both physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The children have regular counselling, they attend school were possible, their basic needs are met and they receive and give lots and lots of love.
Often when I talk about the place of safety I talk about love, how we give love to the children in our care and how our house is a place of love.  Reflecting on this last month I heard God reminding me of a verse from Matthew 5:43-5:45 43

“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44″But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…

It was then that I realised how much I have to learn about love from our children.  They have unconditional love for those who have mistreated them.  After many counselling sessions they may finally reveal the horrific things they witnessed or endured and yet they still continue to love ..

God places these children in our care for a season and we are thankful for this amazing gift and for all that we learn from them.  We are privileged to walk with them as they start their journey of healing.

Isiphephelo is a place of miracles, in closing I would like to share just a few
The miracle of the house purchase and renovation:

Isiphephelo employs 9 amazing people including 1 social worker, 2 auxiliary workers, 3 full time house mums and so on and not one job has ever been advertised; the right people just walked through our door on the right day.

Of the 66 children in our care the most serious incident was a little girl getting a plumbing ring stuck on her finger and having it cut off at Emmaus

The miracle of healing that takes place within the children
The miracle of provision,   there is always enough, more than enough.  We now have funding from Government so have been able to re-direct other donor funds to outreach programmes
I hope you have enjoyed reading and sharing the journey of Isiphephelo so far.


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