Society News

Fikelela AIDS Project - South Africa

18-Aug-2020

Fikelela AIDS Project - South Africa

 

Playground brightens lives during

COVID-19

 

Remember how much fun it was to go to the playground, or to take your children and grandchildren there? With the generous support of the Society and its members, the children living at the Fikelela Child & Youth Centre know exactly how that feels. For children who, for the most part, live their lives within the confines of Fikelela’s walls, a beautiful, safe playground is nothing short of a godsend. It’s hard to imagine a gift that will have a more immediate and ongoing impact on their quality of life.

 

Fikelela is located in the profoundly impoverished township of Khayelitsha (Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa). The 40 children who call the centre home range in age from infants to eight years old. Many are HIV positive and some come from backgrounds of terrible abuse and neglect. Others came from homes where they were loved but suffering under the effect of circumstances such as poverty or illness.

 

For the safety of children and staff, the facility is gated and locked at all times. This was the case even before the pandemic forced the facility into lockdown more than three months ago. Since then, the children at Fikelela have been unable to attend school or go on field trips. “Non-essential staff” have been told to stay home. Beverley Hendricks, Coordinator of the Fikelela AIDS Project, wrote in an email dated July 19 that she had been unable to visit the children since the facility went on lockdown on March 20. With little to do, nowhere to go, and limited interaction with other people, the new playground was truly a blessing in the lives of these children.

 

This project caught the attention of Bishop Philip Poole who had witnessed people living in conditions of extreme poverty during a visit to South Africa a few years ago. He knew exactly how a playground would bring joy to the lives of children living extremely difficult lives. With the Bishop’s encouragement, several members of the Canadian Compass Rose Society stepped in to complete the funding required to change a dream into reality.

 

The Fikelela HIV&AIDS Outreach Program of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town was founded in 2000 with the vision of providing an active Christian response to the HIV&AIDS pandemic in South Africa. In the Xhosa language, Fikelela means “reach out.”

The Fikelela Child & Youth Centre is a non-profit NGO, a registered Place of Safety whose ultimate goal is to reunite children with their families or, when necessary, to place them with safe, loving foster or adoptive families. Many children remain at Fikelela for many years, and it’s the only home some have ever known.

A brand new playground in the sunshine, waiting for children

 

In describing the excitement generated by the new playground, Bev Hendricks wrote, “I am so excited for our children’s sake as this will be so helpful with the activities during our lockdown time…I hope that my excitement and good news has brought a smile to your faces.”

Indeed it has.

~ Susan McCulloch & Janet Lipsi

 

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