Holy Cross Creche and Satellite Centers

Since Thembanathi was founded in 2003, we have been providing annual funding to support the child care centers at Holy Cross Hospice. Holy Cross was created in 2000 to support families and children affected by HIV/AIDS in rural Gingindlovu in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In the early years of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, before access to HIV treatment, families could not always handle the burden of care of severely ill family members. Further, stigma around HIV made it difficult to keep patients at home. Holy Cross was created to provide hospice care for patients with AIDS from the surrounding communities for whom there were no other treatment or care options. As patients were brought in and began to pass away, Sister Priscilla Dlamini, the founder of Holy Cross, became concerned with the situation of the children living in these homes.

To address these needs, the organization expanded the services they were providing to include programs supporting young people and families in the community, including services such as food parcels, building houses, school fees, and home-based care. They currently are supporting close to 2800 children in over 1100 families.

Child at Holy Cross Creche 2003In 2002, Holy Cross started a small childcare center to provide more intensive early education and intervention services for children in the area. The center was opened in a old, single car garage that was located on the same grounds as the primary school. In 2004, with the support of Thembanathi and other donors, they were able to expand their programming and open a large center that now accommodates 120 children.

The center has allowed the older siblings of the children it serves to return to primary and high school. Further, these children, among the poorest in the region, are being given a chance to get an education, receive counseling, and two nutritious meals a day. They are prepared for primary school by learning English and basic math skills. During recess, the children have a chance to play. The young people are given additional support in the form of a twice-weekly music therapy program and the services of a social worker, who works with children who have special problems and consults with the children’s guardians and teachers. Growing up under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, these children are being given back their childhood.

Thembanathi has primarily provided support to the childcare centers at Holy Cross. For the first few years, we provided funds to support operations at the large child care center. Over the last few years, we have provided funds to allow Holy Cross to expand its services and establish small centers in more remote areas. Currently, we are funding five satellite centers, in addition to providing food for a feeding center for older children.

Playground - Holy Cross