Why South Africa?
We undertook several projects in India, Sri Lanka, Ecuador and Bulgaria before deciding that South Africa had identifiable needs which Footprints and volunteers were keen to support.
When did we start our Volunteering programme?
Our South Africa volunteering programme commenced in 2007 and we have taken volunteers back every year since then.
What Orphanages do we help and why?
Sithabile Youth & Child Centre is an orphanage originally adopted by Mears four years ago which Footprints now supports. Based in Benoni, the Centre is well established and has a number of initiatives to improve lives in their community.
Zenzeleni Village Centre is a community based orphanage owned and managed by Lucia (Gogo) and her sister Lindi, which sleeps up to 40 children but in addition feeds up to 400 other children from nearby schools and villages on a daily basis. This is a significant service, without which the community would starve. Food is prepared on a small stove at best and served to the children in tin bowls. If you have never visited Africa then you cannot help but be amazed at the work these orphanages carry out.
Zenzeleni also provides counselling services to nearby schools.
Little Angels Children’s Home is an orphanage run by a 27 year old woman since the death of the founder, her mother, in 2006. There is very scarce social service in the community to assist orphans. Children are often forced to drop out of school to look after themselves and their siblings in child headed households. These children are either HIV/AIDS orphans or have been abandoned by their parents/relatives.
Little Angels offers these children shelter and food, and helps them access medication, counselling and other therapeutic services to help them to live healthy and meaningful lives.
Masibambane Community Care and Support organisation was formed in 2000 by a number of unemployed men and women following the painful, lonely and comfortless death of some of the inhabitants of the poverty stricken ghettos of Lawley and the surrounding areas. The centre provides support and counselling for people living with HIV/AIDS as well as a cooked meal for clients, education for children, workshops and training for youths/adults and skills training/work; beading, sewing, knitting
What do we do to help the Orphanages?
We provide funding for local builders to carry out essential building work in the orphanages i.e. connecting electricity supply, roofing, laying the foundations of buildings.
Our volunteers carry out tasks such as painting and decorating, hanging doors and general building maintenance; to mention but a few!
Some of the orphanages have spaces which are earmarked for growing vegetables. Currently a couple of local men work the fields. Due to a lack of tools, they are unable to carry out the work in time to grow food which is essential for feeding the children. We support them by hiring a tractor for a day which saves weeks of work, and our volunteers then help with the vegetable growing.
Other tasks carried out by volunteers include food preparation, followed by visits to the schools and neighbouring orphanages to distribute the food.
Volunteers who feel able to can provide a counselling service whereby they listen to the children and offer them one to one counselling. This is invaluable to those children who have a number of physical, mental and, primarily, health issues.
How have we benefited the Community?
We have funded University places for orphans from Zenzeleni, giving them an opportunity they could normally only dream of, to learn and hopefully gain employment and be able to support themselves and their communities in the future.
With our supporting and funding, Muza a little boy at the orphanage was able to start school and is so happy to be there, and very proud of his smart uniform! Without our help he would not be able to go.
Through the volunteering programme we have provided a safe and healthy living environment for the children, who can enjoy a nutritionally balanced meal each day.
How do we know that the work we have carried out is still benefiting the community?
We do not just give money to various different projects and walk away. Our aim is to work with the orphanages and implement a sustainable programme of work so that the benefits they have received from Footprints will continue even in our absence. We have adopted these orphanages in every sense of the word.
We have had many volunteers take part in our projects over the years with a cross section of people such as lawyers, care workers, administrators, trainers, IT professionals, builders etc. Each and every volunteer tells us that the volunteering experience has been life changing.
Feedback from the volunteers:
“I only knew that it would have a life changing effect on me and I am fully satisfied that this is now the case”
“I call anyone a fool not to try it. It has been the most heart-warming life changing emotional experience I have ever been through. I feel I have grown as a person and feel I have opened my eyes to a much bigger world. I find myself to be more understanding”
“I loved all of it; working with the team, building the roof and feeling useful. I loved getting the time we had to interact with the kids at the project and I enjoyed visiting the school. There wasn’t anything I would change, except that I wish I had been able to stay for longer”
“I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity of the experience which I will always remember. You do wonderful, admirable work with the Foundation and I know you are proud of your employees for their contribution. It was good to know you and be associated with all the guys. If I can be of any similar assistance in the future please do not hesitate to let me know. Once again thanks and good luck”
From the feedback of the volunteers 100% have said that they would want to return and that they found the experience both memorable and humbling.
What next for Footprints South Africa?
We will continue to develop our “footprints” in Johannesburg and in doing so hope to improve lives and build futures wherever we go
We aim to ‘do something not be somebody’