Background information

Sithand’izingane Care Project is an NPO which seeks to bring relief to families affected / infected by HIV/AIDS. It has been in existence for 12 years and has built up a very good reputation – it is known to be a project that really delivers.   It is situated in Withok, opposite Langaville, which is in the Greater Brakpan Area, 50 km south-east of Johannesburg.

The Project was formed by a group of women from St Paul’s Catholic Church, Tsakane & St Martin de Porres Catholic Church, Geluksdal in 2000. All the members of the group are volunteers and are involved in community work. Some are nurses or teachers, others are ordinary lay women who have done voluntary charity work all their lives. They are still involved in the many programs the project offers, most of them as board members.

Problem Statement

General information
Due to the devastating AIDS pandemic which hit South Africa in the late 1980’s, there is no family in the areas we serve that is not affected in one way or the other by the HIV / AIDS pandemic. Many women are heads of their families and have total responsibility for raising and educating their children. Often they have to care not only for their own children but may also be bringing up relatives children. There is little employment and in addition to that they are lacking of skills to improve their standard of living. A number of households are headed either by grannies or by children shouldering the burden of looking after their junior siblings and being responsible to organize the food, tasks that are beyond their ability.

A huge problem connected to the situation explained above is the medical supply, which is at a very minimum. There are six clinics and one hospital serving the communities of Langaville, Tsakane and Geluksdal. What this means in reality is, the one clinic in Langaville serves more than 15,000 homes, two clinics in Tsakane serve 28,000 homes and one clinic in Geluksdal serves around 6,000 homes. The records in the local clinics and the hospital continue to show many people testing HIV positive and still far too many dying of AIDS related diseases. But there are more problems the greater Brakpan area has to cope with: this region has the highest unemployment rate on the East Rand and extensive informal settlements continue to develop.  All of this leads to many social problems, such as lack of proper housing, hunger, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, to name only a few.  There are always children wandering the streets and the chance for them to break out of the vicious circle is close to zero.

Communities we serve
Towards the end of 2011 the Department of Social Development initiated a process of demarcation.   After serving the communities from Geluksdal and Tsakane for eleven years Sithand´izingane is now responsible for Geluksdal Extension 3 and Langaville Extensions 1, 2 and 8.

Langaville

Langaville started as an informal settlement and now there is water, toilets and some tarred roads but there are a lot of problems. The area already has 16 extensions and is growing so fast that there are no exact figures available of the numbers of people living there.  Langaville has no entertainment facilities at all, neither sport facilities nor youth centers. The children have simply no place to play or to develop their skills. Many of them are bored and do not know what to do with themselves and their lives. Young girls become teenage mothers and drop out of school, others start taking drugs or alcohol.

Due to the high rate of unemployment many households struggle to make a daily living, sometimes there is literally nothing to eat. Depression and anger arise among the adults. Alcohol and drug abuse are the most chosen way to deal with problems and to distract oneself from the devastating situation. This leads to even more problems: the high crime rate, the increase in domestic violence, rape and abuse of children and women. Unfortunately the majority of the women still depend economically on their husbands or fathers of their children and have little to no knowledge about their rights. These might be the main reasons why so many women endure the terrifying treatment at home for so long.

Besides over-crowding and the many shacks, which cannot provide proper shelter, sanitation facilities are also at a minimum and people have difficulties to maintain proper hygiene in their homes. This is particularly precarious as many of the inhabitants suffer from HIV / AIDS. This leads to still more problems because people get weaker and weaker and more lethargic.  The vicious circle goes on…

Langaville is a place that has the potential to develop and to become a loving community but currently people struggle a lot and there is a long way to go.