Thembalethu is a true success story, giving the Eastern Cape reason to be proud. They’ve managed to change hundreds of lives in the last few years, looking after children and providing families with the care and basic essentials that are often overlooked. And although they may seem like any other charity working to fulfil their social responsibilities, they are more than that. As half of the population of the Eastern Cape has HIV, most of the province has been affected by the disease in some way. Thembalethu tackles this problem head on, moving to make a difference at a most fundamental platform: families and relationships. Caring for victims of Aids and the families of this disease, The Thembalethu Trust supports the community emotionally and physically until affected members are strong enough to look after themselves.
Thembalethu operates in the region of Addo Elephant Park and was established by the 3 local churches in the Sunday Valley. They make several different contributions to the community; however one of their most prominent roles is to lend a hand to families who have been affected by HIV and Aids. Over the past few years, they have assisted many patients who are affected by the disease, however the tragic nature of aids has led to only 50% of their patients surviing. Thembalethu makes home visits to these victims and their families, ensuring that they have the correct nutritional supplements, as well as offering support through counselling and prayer.
One of the ways in which the Thembalethu Trust has made a difference in the community is by offering child care to impoverished children from the local community. Many of these children come from homes that have been affected with HIV and AIDs, and some even have the disease themselves. Thembalethu provides support to four local preschools which take care of these children, giving them basic nutrition and assisting with maintenance and supply of materials where possible. Ever y month the schools receive basic essential packages from various donors, allowing them to give more to the children and put needed money elsewhere.
Alongside ensuring that children and families are fed and counselled, the trust makes efforts to dispel the myths around HIV and Aids. It is common belief in the local community that having intercourse with a virgin will cure aids, increasingly becoming the direct cause for many rapes and the transmitting of HIV in the community. The Thembalethu Trust has established a youth centre, and has based three full-time educators who are qualified to help with group discussions, class-room teaching and counsel individuals about Aids and their lives. As the organisation is Christian based, it encourages abstinence amongst the youth, and makes sure that life skills discussions cover topics such as sex, marriage, dating, and peer pressure.
Being able to fulfil one’s social responsibility in South Africa is not only something to be proud of as an individual, but is an action that will affect somebody else’s life. Regardless of what you are doing to make a difference locally, in South Africa a little really does go a long way. You can be sure that the help that you offer won’t be unappreciated or forgotten easily.
Although the Eastern Cape is home to the world famous Addo Elephant Park, there are many areas in the province that many poverty-stricken and Aids infected people call home. The Thembalethu Trust is one of many South African organisations who try to make a noticeable difference in these areas and are respected for ensuring that the health and emotional states of their community members are cared for.
Social responsibility is a term that many South Africans shy away from. Living in a country that has such a high HIV Aids count and an endless list of poverty stricken areas, many are crippled with the knowledge that they can never do enough. At the end of day however, a little goes a long way and regardless of what you donate or how much time you put aside to help out. The Thembalethu Trust is an example of how one can help out in the community, and shows fellow South Africa’s just what they can do to get involved to better their communities. This organization has also shown us that charity is beneficial wherever you are, may it be the middle of a busy city, or on the outskirts of a game reserve such as the¬†Addo Elephant Park.
The Thembalethu Trust is always in need of basic essentials. Visit their page to see how you can get involved. Donations of time and basic essentials are greatly appreciated and will go a far way in helping the local community. See some of our other responsible tourism efforts here.