AIDS Africa Best Practice: SOS Social Centre Nelspruit

SOS Social Centre Nelspruit, South Africa

Community-based child care & support programme Tekwane, South Africa

Programme Description

This community-based child care & support programme is a joint initiative between SOS Children’s Villages in Nelspruit, the Siyasitana Home Based Care group in Tekwane (approximately 20 km from Nelspruit) and the Tekwane Clinic and began in 2002. The overall aim of the programme is to prevent children from becoming orphaned or abandoned and to strengthen the capacity of the Tekwane community and families to care for orphaned and abandoned children. The programme activities focus on issues as identified through participatory research and are rendered to approximately 150 OVCs by 18 community volunteers based on specific needs which are reviewed on a regular basis.

Services include regular home visits to ensure the psychological, physical, security and educational well-being of the children, legal and material assistance, counselling services, assistance with income generating projects, training and capacity building of community volunteers and training for potential foster parents.

The programme currently runs at an average cost ratio of US$4 per month/child beneficiary.

Based on this experience and its lessons learnt, the social center programme Nelspruit is expanding its support activities into Kanyamazane, a neighbouring community of Tekwane, to assists around 300 children.

Relevant standard and good practice

We work together with partners to achieve common goals.

The partnership with a local home based care group proves to be valuable when joining hands to support orphans and vulnerable children.


  • The home based care group shares the SOS vision and mission, and targets the same families and households.
  • Children are affected by HIV/AIDS long before they are orphaned: the home based care group renders services to terminally ill people who are at the same time parents or caregivers to children and as such the partnership is an effective complement without duplicating services.
  • A clearly defined action plan states the assigned responsibilities of the different organisations involved. As a result of the joined efforts a Community Executive Committee was formed which ensures community participation and mobilisation


Entering the partnership with Siyasitana home based care group was a natural “match” as we were looking for relevant stakeholders in Tekwane to support our intentions to assist orphans and vulnerable children. Siyasitana was already working within the community, they were well accepted and have already built up a network of community volunteers which do home visits to care for sick adults, train family members to care for the sick, provide counselling and promote primary health care. Through their involvement in the community they come across the plight of many orphans and vulnerable children. However, due to limited resources Siyasitana was not able to care for these children adequately. Jointly a participatory planning process was embarked on with the aim of establishing a community-based child care and support programme. The community volunteers were capacitated to not only care for the sick family members but to extend their services to orphans and vulnerable children.

As a result of the joint planning process, an action plan was drawn up which clearly states the respective responsibilities of both organisations. Here is one example from the action plan:

Activity: Home Visits

Purpose: Ensure that the psychological and physical security and educational needs of children are provided for.

Siyasitana : Provide spiritual, psychological and emotional support. Clean patients. Clean houses. Cook.

SOS Children’s Villages : Provide backup support if needed. Provide services of a social worker. Facilitate training. Refer households to other organisations or services if needs are better served elsewhere.

The Community Executive Committee, which was formed as a result of the joint efforts, consists of representatives from various community stakeholders: churches, government, civic and political groups, NGOs. This committee is crucial in securing community support for the programme, identifying community needs and priorities, identifying families with vulnerable children and identifying and mobilising existing community resources that add value to the programme.

Lessons learnt

  • The role of SOS in the partnership can easily be misunderstood: Known as an international, “supposedly” well-off NGO, the volunteers expected incentives from SOS although they can actually access government funding. Therefore address expectations from volunteers in terms of incentives right from the start.
  • Volunteers don’t always render their commitment altruistically: We will try to choose volunteers out of the beneficiaries group and consider a good mix of ages amongst them.
  • When engaging into a partnership, consider time to get to know each other and eventually consider time and resources to capacitate the partner depending on how well the partner organisation is already managed.

Key people

Sizakele Malambe , who is a social worker by profession, is the project coordinator for community development programmes for SOS Nelspruit. She is most enthused by working with communities and partners because she likes to motivate them to work for the good of the children. The challenges and all the problems that she is trying to resolve within her working environment, keep her going - “… that’s how you grow,” she says firmly.