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Philani Child Health & Nutrition Project

The Philani Child Health & Nutrition Project is a community-based organization operating in the informal settlements of Khayelitsha, Crossroads, Brown's Farm, Mfuleni, Nyanga and Delft on the outskirts of Cape Town. Almost a million people live in these areas, most of came originally from the Eastern Cape, beyond Grahamstown. The houses here are a mix of government RDP houses, some built by the Niall Mellon Trust, and informal dwellings made of corrugated iron, wood, and plastics - many overcrowded and without water and sanitation.

Soweto Connection Support for Philani

A mother takes part in a Philani training program

The community served by Philani faces the same problems as those of the other groups we support: of unemployment, poverty, poor housing, lack of basic services, malnutrition and poor health. Women and children are most vulnerable. Twenty per cent of the population here are children below the age of six. One in ten children is underweight, and one in four is stunted. Around 30 per cent of pregnant women here are HIV positive, leaving young children orphaned in high numbers.

Philani focuses on nutrition for young children in a number of ways. Soweto Connection supports their Outreach programme. Philani identifies women in the community who, in spite of poverty, have managed to raise healthy children. These “positive deviant” mothers are trained in child health and nutrition, HIV/Aids counselling, TB, child neglect and other areas. They then become outreach workers, and call door to door finding vulnerable children and working with their mothers, putting them in touch with the appropriate government services, etc. Philani runs weaving workshops for mothers on the outreach programme in which they can learn a useful craft, and generate an income for their families. The outreach workers receive a small stipend for the work, and can reach hundreds of children over the course of a year.

Soweto Connection also supports the Desmond Tutu Scholarship Fund which pays a small grant of about €30 per month to particularly vulnerable mothers identified by outreach workers for a limited period of six months to a year, to enable them to get on their feet. Soweto Connection has been supporting Philani since 2007, following a visit by Sheila Killian to one of the Philani centres in Khayelitsha.

Soweto Connection raises funds in Ireland for South African community-based groups that are working with people affected by HIV/AIDS. The money collected makes urgent treatment available to HIV/AIDS patients, provides home-based care to sufferers, and assists in HIV/AIDS prevention services.

All donations are gratefully accepted, and all money goes directly to helping AIDs victims and their families.