Karen en Afrique du sud et son projet : ABONGILE

The Abongile Project is a non-profit community organisation in Lingelethu Township, Adelaide, Eastern Cape. South Africa.
Description ABONGILE… ( meaning ‘We are happy’ in iXhosa) » is a program for community up-liftment which is being developed in Lingulethu Township on the outskirts of Adelaide in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is, in essence, the brainchild and deep heartfelt dream of Hilda Matutu who lives within the township and works with vulnerable children at a local primary school.
Hilda met me when I interviewed her about her work in the community for the French magazine « les Odettes » and she communicated her concerns about her community. It was during that conversation that we decided to put something concrete together so that her dream of improving and perhaps forever changing the lives of a few disadvantaged children could be realised – and perhaps a wider spin off of community change and upliftment facilitated…
I am fortunate enough to be educated, connected and have contacts and compassionate friends all over the world. For most people, living here in a small town with few resources, high unemployment and surrounded by increasing poverty and despair it is very easy to believe that you can do nothing to change the situation. These children have been born into situations over which they have no control and no obvious way out of the poverty cycle. I am hoping that through this medium we will be able to change that for some of them.

Poverty is rife in the townships around Adelaide. Around 80% of people are unemployed and living on Government pensions of Rand 1000/ month. From this they are expected to feed families, clothe them, pay for transport, pay school fees and buy school uniforms. In a country with a rising cost of living, it is increasingly difficult to make ends meet and the prospect of rising out of the poverty cycle seems impossible to most.

There are several parts to this project – the first and most important is the plight of the Vulnerable Children Hilda takes care of. A basic building with a kitchen to feed and house these children when they need a safe space is our primary objective at the moment. We are also hoping to raise a small regular income to enable the purchasing of food once we have a building in place. Once we have sourced the resources that will help with the management of these children, Hilda would like to put some time and resources into starting small adult community group projects.

1546421_321760261316742_7248912825143977608_nThere are several groups of adults which are skilled and willing to work but lacking the means to purchase the materials to begin ie: sheepskins to make slippers or seeds to plant vegetables.



A selection of slippers made from sheepskin and springbok skin made by Hilda. This is one of the up-liftment workshops she is doing.



Vegetables grown by the project can be used in the soup kitchen and by the people involved in the project. We are also hoping that when the wider community see the value in growing their own vegetables they will be inspired to plant their own gardens. manure and organic materials can be sourced from local farms and dropped at a central point for use in the gardens.





936091_321759564650145_2700926037706584484_nHilda Matutu works at a local Government primary school where there are 655 pupils and 12 teachers. The school has few resources and the classrooms are cramped.
In this school alone there are 27 children at present who are part of Hilda’s vulnerable children list who if they don’t get fed at school, – they don’t eat at all.
It is a concept hard to grasp for most of us, but it is a reality here.
Hilda monitors these children and liaises between families, the school, the local clinic and a social worker. Some of these children have lost either one or even two parents to HIV and some of them are HIV positive themselves. We all know that nutrition is a key element in the health and development of a child – it facilitates strong bones, healthy mental and emotional development and it keeps disease at bay. With HIV positive children, a good diet means the possibility of a productive and long life. Without adequate nutrition, diseases progression and an early death is certain.
Hilda is part of the schools nutrition program and she is responsible for making sure that these vulnerable children receive breakfast before school a meal at lunchtime provided by the school. The Government School Nutrition program provides for this, but what they don’t provide is food over weekends and during the school holidays.
Hilda does.
From her her very basic wage, she feeds and clothes her own family, then she welcomes and feeds anything up to an extra 27 children in her own home, makes sure they receive help with their homework if they need it and she gives them the warmth and love that they do not have at home.

10540783_340851529407615_3010885527228572755_nThe ABONGILE Project is about raising funds to purchase materials and food to change the lives of the disadvantged children and adults in the community I am a part of at this point in my life, it is not about giving without responsibility, it is not about the donation of Aid, it is about providing a means whereby the people within the community can begin to create situations which are self perpetuating. The community has to run the bulk of this project from the inside and they are the ones who have to give it life so that it regenerates itself and adapts to changes. I have agreed to manage the money and donations received along with a local retired CA. We are seeking advice on legal and tax implications for charities and everyone is clear on the need to be transparent and accountable.
This project must become self sustaining in order for any longevity. We really need help getting it off the ground though – these children really need our help to change their lives.

I can be contacted through this page for further information : https://www.facebook.com/abongile.project/timeline and I will gladly email you further information or answer any questions you have.





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