We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follow:
organisational and administrative skills
fundraising, marketing and business skills
nurses, health visitors and counselors
early childhood development practitioners and pre-school teachers
life skills education and development
the programme would also welcome pro-active people to help the staff with feeding, caring for and playing constructively with the young children, mainly under 6 years old.
The Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre (EACC) needs volunteers with appropriate skills and experience to help the staff with:
• building the administrative capacity of the organisation
• capacity building for community carers who support HIV sufferers
• providing child care for orphans and vulnerable children
• the feeding programme
This project offers a responsible alternative to the volunteer who would like to work in childcare but is rightly concerned about the ethics of short term volunteer work abroad in an orphanage.
Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre is a non-profit organisation, based in the KwaNoxolo district of Port Elizabeth. It was founded in 2003 as a means of addressing the high incidence of HIV and AIDS, and works towards a vision of an AIDs-free community.
In their work to support adults and children with or affected by HIV and AIDs in their community, the Emmanuel team currently has a team of four care-givers, plus a manager and administrator, who carry out home visits to around 300 clients in the KwaNoxolo district, providing practical support and counselling to families in need, as well as running regular support groups on issues relating to health and social care. The team also includes two childcare workers who run a community crèche and pre-school for around 25 children, and as often as possible a feeding programme provides a meal for these children plus up to 100 additional vulnerable children from the community; this food is provided by local food banks and supplemented with vegetables grown in the garden at Emmanuel.
All the care givers and crèche workers are drawn from the local community and so have a deep understanding of the issues affecting the area. Many referrals come from people in the community who approach them with concerns about a neighbour; the team at Emmanuel are always there to provide a listening ear to those who regularly drop in with concerns. This has enabled Emmanuel to build a caring organisation which is effective and committed to supporting and empowering adults and children within their community.
Their stated objectives are to:
• provide support and advice to individuals and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDs
• educate the community about issues such as methods of prevention, good nutrition and the importance of compliance with medication
• ensure the safety and development of orphans and vulnerable children
• provide nutritional meals to orphans and child-headed families.
Although Emmanuel received funding from the Department of Social Development for the first 10 years of its existence - which enabled them to employ paid staff and work with more clients across a wider area - that funding has now ceased and Emmanuel depends totally on donations and self-funded initiatives for its survival. The entire team now works on a voluntary basis and is a genuine, caring grass-roots organisation, determined to continue to provide love and support for their community in very practical, needs-driven ways.
To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here.
The communities served by the EACC are home for over 150,000 people. Like most townships in South Africa, they are characterized by a history of poverty, underdevelopment and segregation. Today they comprise ‘coloured' and African (Xhosa) families, living in shacks, older apartheid 'matchbox' houses and newly developed housing.
What is uniform, as well as the physical structure is poverty, unemployment, social problems such as alcohol- and drug-abuse, and HIV and AIDS. Many households are headed by single mothers, grandmothers, and a few child headed households.
"Emmanuel is not a perfectly run organisation – they have limited resources, work in horrible conditions at times, and are under-skilled for what they really want to achieve. They are under-paid & under funded In the kitchen and the crèche they are busy and can make nothing go a long way.It’s difficult sometimes not to get frustrated sometimes– but you need to always try to remember, hard as it might be, the conditions that these people live in, the fact that they do this for next to no money, the fact that this organisation has been here, doing this, a long time and that it was started by people in this community, for people in this community, because they could see the way that HIV & Aids was destroying that community. I deeply hope that they find a way to continue to grow and contribute because the value of what they do and what they want to do cannot be measured!." volunteer Emma