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South Africa, 18 November 2015: Isibindi: Caring for the most vulnerable

Every day in South Africa, hundreds of trained Isibindi Child and Youth Care workers serve the most vulnerable children and families in their communities. The name Isibindi means courage in IsiZulu.

The model is a community-based response to the HIV/AIDS crisis as well as children made vulnerable for other reasons. The model provides for employment of child & youth care workers (CYCW’s) who deliver community and home-based services to vulnerable children.

The core of the model is the provision of child and youth care services to children and youth in their homes by trained and supervised child and youth care workers.

The youth workers connect with the children and build relationships with them through the use of daily life events – they help the family with basic household chores, and educate about general hygiene, gardening, health, nutrition and household care.

They cook with the children, teach basic life skills and build resilience – using ordinary human interaction as a context and a means for transcending basic care to meet the emotional needs of children – especially in child headed and parentless families.

Safe Parks are areas of land specifically set aside for the educational and recreational pursuits of children in areas where children live. The NACCW implements special focus programs to meet specific areas of care, prevention and intervention to enhance the holistic service provision offered by CYCW’s through the Isibindi model.

To date, 307 Isibindi projects have been replicated across all 9 provinces in South Africa, serving over 130 000 children who would otherwise have fallen outside of the care and protection matrix.

The Isibindi model contributes to the realization of the rights of children, in particular in relation to child protection and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS. Secondly, it contributes, to skills development and employment generation in the social services workforce for people from the poorest areas that have limited opportunities.

“The girl who walked in here was a shy and isolated girl who had no vision. But now I am able to express myself. The safe park is where I feel free to do anything. It’s like a second home. Now I have faith in myself and I can conquer the world!” – Asiphe Dywili



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