UNICEF Ambassador Sir Alex Ferguson and Reds keeper Ben Amos took time out of the DHL pre-season tour on Tuesday to learn about the impact of violence and abuse on the country’s orphans and to call on communities to play an active role in protecting and supporting vulnerable children.
South Africa has close to four million orphans - around 23 per cent of all children - and many of these youngsters have lost one or both parents to HIV. These children often live in extreme poverty and face huge challenges in their everyday lives and suffer from trauma, stress and grief. They are especially vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation.
Visiting an ‘Isibinidi’ project in the rural community of Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, Sir Alex was joined by Amos to see the work of UNICEF and local partner, the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers (NACCW), in protecting and supporting orphans and vulnerable children. ‘Isibinidi’, which translates as ‘Courage’ in the local Zulu language, is a community-based project that was developed to care for vulnerable children and to break the cycle of abuse and violence that they face, by providing both practical and emotional support.
Specifically, ‘Isibindi’ trains and provides orphan families with individual Child Care Workers. These Child Care Workers conduct regular home visits and provide vital practical support with important everyday activities such as washing, cooking and doing homework, as well providing much needed psycho-social support to children who have been through the traumatic experience of losing their parents and other damaging situations. In addition, ‘Isibindi’ builds and maintains a network of ‘Safe Parks’- areas within communities where children can play safely, study and learn important life skills such as confidence, home management, and HIV prevention.
Whilst at the programme, Sir Alex saw a ‘Safe Park’ in action and spoke with three youngsters who were orphaned when both parents died in quick succession over five years ago.
Talking at Ndwedwe village, Sir Alex said: “As an UNICEF Ambassador and through United's 13-year ‘United for UNICEF’ partnership I’ve visited many projects, but to hear how young people, especially