A centre that supports 168 orphans and vulnerable children in Grahamstown is on the brink of shutting down because money is just too scarce.
A haven for many in the community, the Raphael Aids Centre will run out of funds by the end of November, said the centre's director Jabu van Niekerk. Already forced to retrench two staff members, van Niekerk is desperate to find a way to ensure that the centre keeps its doors open.
“The residents of Grahamstown have always been very generous and I understand that they are always being approached to help numerous organisations, but we really do make a difference and the people we look after really need us,” she said.
Besides supporting orphans and vulnerable children, the Raphael Centre provides skills training for people living with HIV, gives out emergency food parcels to families in need and uses its resources to educate around 500 people every month. In addition, the centre offers free HIV testing and counselling services, empowering people to live balanced and full lives.
HIV and Aids are a massive threat to Grahamstown, and Van Niekerk said the city has the second highest ante-natal infection rate of 34.2% in the province. This means that more than one-third of women giving birth here are already infected with HIV. Combating the spread of the virus and supporting those who are infected have to be priorities, she said.
But the funding situation for non-profit organisations like the Raphael Centre is critical. More and more international donor agencies prefer to fund bi-laterally, or from government to government van Niekerk explained, and that money hardly trickles down to local organisations.
In recent months the Southern Africa Institute of Fundraising conducted a survey among all NGOs in the Grahamstown area and found that the biggest funding cuts reported came from corporate donors that are now paying organisations 42.3% less than they were a year ago.
The second biggest funding cut was from the National Lottery, at 37.9% and individual donors are now paying 37.2% less. If 100 people were to give R200 per month, van Niekerk said the Raphael Centre would be able to keep its doors open to provide the services that are so vital to Grahamstown.
To make a donation transfer funds to: Name: The Raphael Support and Skills Development Organisation Branch: Absa Bank, Grahamstown Account No: 4054991188 Branch Code: 420517
The Raphael Center offers support and counselling
Community Coordinater of the year- Zodwa Goje
Workshops are done with the youth
All little ones are helped
Jabu van Niekerk, Director of the Raphael centre with one of the many orphans the centre provides for.
Support co-ordinater Ntuthu Mxalisa handing out food parcels
A day out with people who love them
Sex Education is given and condoms distributed
Provide free HIV tests
Powerful moment of reflecyion within the youth
Support Group Co-ordinater of- Ntuthu Mxalisa giving a lecture
I drove past an official Makana Municipality car today who casually threw a full bag of rubbish out their window and into Fitzroy street. A few weeks ago another official car narrowly missed hitting my boyfriend on his run, as they sped through the suburbs at a ridiculous rate. How dare they pretend to care about this municipality when they so blatantly disrespect it. There need to be tighter controls around these 'offical' vehicles. Lauren