News in South Africa
Grant and Health Jamboree
By Jessica Geffroy | Senior OVC Co-ordinator
Khayelitsha, Cape Town
The OLIVE LEAF Foundation (OLF) Cape Town OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) team co-ordinated a Grant and Health Jamboree on the 30th and 31st of July 2009 at the Thusong Community Hall in Khayelitsha. This event that brings together all Government Departments that are involved in grant and health access – creating a “one-stop-shop” for grant and health services. Typically, a caregiver wishing to apply for a child grant will have to negotiate his/her way through numerous Government Departments, a process that can take months and involve repeated visits to several different Government offices. Travel costs, illiteracy, illness, ignorance and fear prevent the most vulnerable households from negotiating this system.
At this year’s Jamboree the services offered included grant applications via the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and applications for birth certificates and ID Books through the Department of Home Affairs. To support these services, the South African Police were on site to verify information and provide affidavits, the Department of Social Development provided information on foster care process and provided the services of social workers to assist with special cases. Ward Councillors and Local Government and Housing were also available to provide information to community members. Local banks offered financial education and community members could open up bank accounts on site within which their grants could be deposited.
The health services included voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and pregnancy testing offered by OLF. Cape Town City Health provided TB screening, family planning, child immunizations, and vitamin boosters. SpecSavers also offered free eye screening for all adults and children and provided free lenses and frames to children between 8 and 12 years. HIV education on the day was provided by the OLF Prevention Program. Drug education was facilitated by SANCA and information on the abuse of women and children by Rape Crisis and the Mosaic Centre. 12 000 condoms were distributed at the event.
Volunteers on both days came from the Volunteer Centre and by Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) and of course, the whole Cape Town OLF office arrived ready to be put to work. With plenty of on-site support, every effort was made to assist each person who came through the doors. This proved to be quite a task as community members began queuing outside the venue from 4am, despite the rain! One of the main challenges and successes of the day was the huge turn out - an indication of good advertising prior to the event. However, to avoid disappointing people, on the second day, once the venue was filled to capacity, (at 7.30am) the doors were shut to new arrivals. The incredible turn-out highlights the necessity and importance of such events within Khayelitsha.
Other challenges faced included a power outage and a service delivery strike which coincided with Jamboree dates! Despite these set-backs thousands of members of the Khayelitsha community were assisted. Within these numbers, 995 children received services. Of particular mention is that 365 children had free eye tests by SpecSavers, out of which 33 will be receiving new glasses. SASSA also processed 557 Child Support Grants, 30 Foster Care Grants and 7 Care Dependency Grants. Thus for the R25 000 spent by the OLIVE LEAF Foundation in coordinating the jamboree, R1, 933 800.00 per annum in state grants were leveraged for children within poor households. This does not include the hundreds of Old Age Grants, Disability Grants and Grants-In-Aid that were also processed over the two days.
On the eve of Friday the 31st July we could therefore close the Thusong Community Hall’s doors, tired, but proud of the synergy with which the different OLF programmes worked, of the way in which multiple stakeholders pulled together and of the large numbers of the Khayelitsha community assisted toward better financial, physical and social well-being.
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