ThokomalaThe story of a home with a heart
Thokomala provides a holistic solution to positively impact the lives of orphaned children infected or affected by HIV and AIDS so that they are able to occupy their rightful place in society. Thokomala is about re-creating family life for orphaned children instead of institutionalising them. Children are placed in a family environment in their community so they can remain in their schools and the social fabric known to them thus limiting the trauma. Six orphaned children without any extended family available or willing to foster them are placed in the home and cared for by a foster mother. A relief mother is also provided. With the support of the Thokomala Social Worker, the intention of the programme is to offer long-term care to these children, extending beyond tertiary education through to self sufficiency. In addition, the Thokomala Social Worker offers additional support and services to families in the community, often assisted by community volunteers and other para-professionals. There are currently 5 Thokomala Homes spread throughout Gauteng; 2 Thokomala Homes in the Eastern Cape; 1 Thokomala Home in the Free State and 1 Thokomala Home in the Western Cape. Each Home has a maximum of 6 children bringing the total number of children benefitting from this program to 81. One of the greatest challenges faced during the past 6 months is that of the foster mother being able to access a 7th foster care grant. While the Courts allow for a 7th child to be legally placed in the care of a foster parent, SASSA’s Regulations do not allow for payment of a 7th foster care grant to the same foster parent. This places enormous financial strain on the programme especially as every attempt is made to keep siblings together. SASSA is currently revising their Regulations however this could take quite a while. Presently the programme is fully funded by the Thokomala Orphan Care Association however, going forward in the next 5 years, emphasis will be placed on sustainability of the programme. The 9 CWSA organisations who implement the programme currently have found the programme to be of great benefit not only to the children as beneficiaries but also extending the reach of the organisation to the broader community.