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South Africa

As FIFA World Cup 2010 festivities begin in South Africa, Angélique Kidjo visits Soweto

© UNICEF South Africa/2010/Hearfield
In Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo joins the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers in celebrating its work through song and dance.

By Kun Li

SOWETO, South Africa, 10 June 2010 – With football fever gripping fans across the globe, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo is using this moment to highlight the immense needs of South African children made vulnerable by poverty, violence, and HIV and AIDS.

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Alongside other world-famous musicians, Ms. Kidjo performs today at a concert kicking off the FIFA World Cup 2010 festivities in South Africa. But before that, she made time to visit a community hit hard by HIV and AIDS in Soweto, a former township on the edge of Johannesburg.

‘Circle of care’

Ms. Kidjo met there with workers involved in ISIBINDI (‘courage’ in Zulu), a community-based project initiated by the South African National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers.

© UNICEF South Africa/2010/Hearfield
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo visits with a South African woman who has cared for her three grandchildren since they were orphaned by HIV and AIDS.

“We pay regular visits to the children, whether they are in their homes, at school or in their community,” said ISIBINDI mentor Hloniphile Dlamini, who explained the programme’s work to Ms. Kidjo during her visit. “In the homes, we help the family create a routine, making sure the children do their homework, make time to play and have something to eat before they go to school. We also help the families with birth and death certificates, so that they can apply for child-support grants.”

ISIBINDI – a key UNICEF partner – works by creating a ‘circle of care’ through which unemployed community members are screened, selected and trained. They are then deployed as child and youth care workers to support families in their own communities.

Under the mentorship of experienced social-service professionals, the workers help children and their families develop healthy routines, enhance their well-being and gain access to social services.

Supporting families

In one household that Ms. Kidjo visited, an elderly grandmother cares for her three orphaned grandchildren, one whom is living with HIV. With the help of ISIBINDI, the woman was able to obtain birth certificates for the children and apply for social-security grants.

© UNICEF South Africa/2010/Hearfield
Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo with child-care workers at a children's 'safe park' in Soweto, South Africa.

At another home, Ms. Kidjo met a mother living with HIV who became bedridden a few months ago. Her family struggled with daily necessities, and her two children were not able to go to school on a regular basis because they didn’t have food for lunch. The ISIBINDI workers helped the family get child-support grants and connected the ailing mother with treatment at a local clinic.

ISIBINDI also created a ‘safe park’ for children who require after-school care. Under the supervision of child-care workers, the children can play with toys, do homework, interact with their peers and simply be children. They can also gain access to services such as health care and psycho-social support.

“I always believe that we can only help people if they want to help themselves,” said Ms. Kidjo, referring to the ‘circle of care’ model. “If the community is not involved, then we will never see success. For me, this is a huge achievement.”

Safe spaces for young fans

More than 48,000 orphans and vulnerable children in eight South African provinces are currently receiving support through ISIBINDI.

And as South Africa prepares for the official start of the FIFA World Cup 2010, which takes place tomorrow, UNICEF is also working to ensure that children have a safe role to play in the festivities. Schools are closed throughout the tournament, and children are widely expected at FIFA’s free public viewing areas, known as ‘Fan Fests.’

With the help of partners, including the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers, UNICEF is opening ‘child-friendly spaces' at the Fan Fests where young people will be able to play safely and receive support from trained volunteers – all while enjoying one of the biggest sporting events of their lifetime.




7 June 2010: UNICEF's Kun Li reports on a visit by Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo to Soweto, South Africa, in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup 2010.
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