By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this children’s program was born in February 2012 as a feeding outreach to the impoverished and disadvantaged children in Johannesburg - Alexandra. This area is one of the most populated townships in Johannesburg. The current population has been estimated to be 750,000 to 1,000,000 people.
While moving through the city and slums, one will be concerned by the situation of children at home or on the street. Those who clearly need attention are not only in the streets but in some cases in schools also. Some cases are really appealing. Changing Nations Ministries realized that many children were attending school without having meals, and this not only affected their health but also their academic performances and social lives.
One of the challenges experienced from working in disadvantaged communities are seeing children in a state of catastrophe. We believe that the problem can be addressed if we are more aware of the issues in our respectful communities.
As a ministry, we are trying to reverse the trend no matter the challenges. We attended to over 107 registered orphans, abandoned and underprivileged children that we were taking care of. We provided food parcels, a daily meal, school items, and toiletries. With the above brief description of Alexandra, it is clear that the main challenge for children there is food and therefore we helped children with a healthy meal daily (lunch). We also made sure that for the ones living with their brothers and sisters, take food home for them.
During holidays, the scheme continued and we had realized that the number of children we helped then increased. During holidays, we received some pupils from other schools as well as siblings of our beneficiaries. Holiday time, we were a “big family”. The children are helped with school items such as school bags, bathing soap, and toothpaste, toothbrushes, face towels, under garments among others. They also received bed sheets, blankets, and shoes as we received them from other well-wishers of our program.
Starting with feeding these children with a hot meal each day, the situation was now becoming more and more alerting. The food items that were used to make the daily meals and snacks were purchased locally, which was helping to create and sustain jobs and benefit the devastated economy.
Prevention is better than cure and for that reason, we do talk to all kids concerning their body and health in general. This includes providing material for bathing, Oral hygiene, hand washing every time after visiting toilets and before eating. For teenagers most importantly girls, we do make them aware of the bodily changes that they experience as they grow up. This in the bid to reduce the scourge of HIV that South Africa as a country is facing and reduce teenage pregnancy.
The situation of orphans is a very precarious one and particularly when it happens in conditions like the ones in townships.
After talking to our girls, we realized that some of them have ventured into prostitution either to have food or money to buy basic necessities. We don’t need to mention that many have lost their parents to HIV. The still vicious circle is far from being broken.
We came in as their parents and helped them one by one, knowing the situation and values of each of them. From there we helped and followed their lives and behaviours. We also had a counselling program that paid off. We have so many encouraging stories of overcoming temptations of new cases and breaking old relationships.
We provided after school educational support, which had proved to be extremely helpful to their improvement in their school work from term to term. We had four qualified teachers who helped our children to do homework and repeat lessons when needed.
The homework is not really done at home, but in the school premises after lunch. So they went home all prepared and done for the next day. The system is reaping rewards. Based on the last term results, majority of the children had improved with the minimum of a 5 to 10% increase in their marks.