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Isibindi: Making brighter futures possible

UNICEF South Africa/2016/Reddy
© UNICEF South Africa/2016/Reddy
Nolusindiso (in pink) with her family and the Isibindi child care workers.

March 2016 - On the edges of East London airport, a series of informal settlements called Fort Grey dot the landscape. In one of these small, neat semi-formal structures, sits Nolusindiso, a former participate in the Adolescent Development Programme at a nearby Safe Park.

In a frank and open interview, punctuated by the roar of jets overhead, this brave 26-year-old talks openly about the impact the Isibindi has had on her life.

Of petite build and shy in demeanour, Nolusindiso, meaning Salvation in her Xhosa mother-tongue, first attended the youth forums at her nearby Safe Park when she was a teenager before regularly joining the Adolescent Development Programme of Isibindi. Encouraged by the support and guidance she was receiving, she then joined the Youth Catering Initiative introduced by the Isibindi programme in her area.

Through a monthly donation of R500 ($30) from UNICEF, she was able to earn a small salary for herself and purchased cooking equipment for further catering. So successful was this effort, that she was soon providing catering for the local safe park, a 30-minute walk from her home which this slightly-built young woman undertook regularly with all her catering equipment. Unfortunately due to funding constraints, this grant was stopped in September 2015. 

Through the efforts of Nozuko, the child and youth care worker from the National Association of Child Care Workers, Nolusindiso and her family were able to receive a social grant from the Department of Social Development. They were also taught budgeting skills and were provided with the means to set up a vegetable garden to provide for their nutritional needs.

Through Isibindi, she then participated in the Young Women’s Empowerment Programme which in turn gave her the confidence to disclose that she is HIV-positive. These days, she motivates other young people to undertake voluntary testing and counselling.

Even after all these years, she is still visited by Nozuko, her child and youth care worker, at least three times a week to make sure she is coping and succeeding against her many odds.

“Isibindi,” says Nolunsindiso softly, “made me realise that I was not the only one having difficulties, there were others in my position as well and it was possible to make the future better.” 



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