Siphila Sonke strives to support and improve the quality of life of the desperately poor and chronically ill families who live in the informal settlement near the village of Grabouw and the farming community of the Elgin Valley, in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Siphila Sonke provides individuals, both adults and children, who are vulnerable, needy and/or too ill to earn a living, and not yet receiving appropriate government grants, with a monthly food parcel. Siphila Sonke then regularly visits these Beneficiaries in their homes to assist them physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Siphila Sonke also offers the adult Beneficiaries, as soon as they are well enough, the opportunity to join our Support Groups, where further emotional and spiritual support is offered. Through our Support Groups, Beneficiaries are afforded the opportunity to learn and put into practice new skills to help them supplement their income.
Additionally, Siphila Sonke also provides children in the informal settlement, between the ages of 6 and 13, the opportunity to participate in a Kids Club. This club provides the children with creative and academic stimulation as well as entertainment, daily after school and during the school holidays.
Siphila Sonke currently employs a part-time Manager, 1 full-time and 1 part-time Field Worker, a full-time Kids Club & Support Group Co-ordinator as well as a part-time Kids Club Facilitator and a part-time General Assistant. We also have the assistance of up to 40 Volunteers from the community of the village of Grabouw and the farming community of the Elgin Valley.
How did we start?
In the Beginning
In June 2003 Bev Morgan, in her role as Training Manager at St Johns’ Ambulance, ran a Home Based Care training programme for Community Homecare Workers at Elgin Community College (now Elgin Learning Foundation). It was during this time that the overwhelming needs of the sick in the community of the local informal settlement, were brought to her attention.
In particular, Bev was deeply disturbed by stories of how the Homecare Workers often took food from their own meagre supplies to provide basic nutrition to those they were caring for. Together with the support of the Elgin United Church, Bev organised a fundraising campaign to raise money for food parcels. These were distributed with the assistance of the Homecare Workers and a small group of Volunteers.
Siphila Sonke means ‘We Live Together’. This name was suggested by one of the Homecare Workers soon after the group started and is indicative of the strong sense of working together between the members of the group and the unity they felt towards helping those in need, in the community.
The Early Years
For the first few years of our existence, Siphila Sonke had no formal premises. Volunteers and the Homecare Workers from the Elgin Community College met outside the local Grabouw village library to sort out food parcels for distribution. Initially, meetings were held in the open. The library kindly let us use one of their rooms for meetings or when it was raining! When a Support Group was set up we had to meet in a Beneficiary’s one-roomed dwelling in the informal settlement!
By the end of 2006, we realised that we needed to find a ‘home’ and we started looking for premises. At that time, the Elgin United Church was assisting with the building of a new church called ‘Imizamo’ in the informal settlement. Since the church’s facilities were mostly going to be used on weekends, it was a ‘win-win’ situation for Siphila Sonke to use the facilities during the week and share some of the running costs. We are grateful to the members of this wonderful congregation who have welcomed and accommodated us so willingly.
Having a permanent home gave us the opportunity to really expand our services within the community and we soon extended the Support Groups and started the Kids Club. At the beginning of 2010, a number of generous donations as well as the donation of a container by Safmarine, made it possible to extend the Imizamo United Church premises. This not only gave us much-needed additional office, storage and work space, but also provided space for other community-based organisations, including the ABBA Family Counselling Centre.
In 2013 a much-appreciated donation from the Wright Memorial Trust enabled us to erect a good fence and a proper gate around the Imizamo Church complex and to level and re-grass the Kids Club Playground. The children in the community now have a safe green area to play in, and both ABBA and Siphila Sonke make regular use of this lawn for various outdoor activities.
Additionally, the Wright Memorial Trust afforded us more funding in early 2014 that, together with other generous contributions from Local Donors and others, enabled us to undertake alterations to the container, which was previously generously donated by Safmarine. These alterations included a new roof, a veranda and 2 storerooms. Additionally, the existing room has been upgraded to an additional classroom for the Kids Club with built-in desks and new furniture, enabling us to accommodate and help more children.
Being in the heart of the community in which we operate, Imizamo United Church has proved to be the perfect location!
Where Are We Based?
Siphila Sonke is based in the informal settlement near the village of Grabouw and the farming community of the Elgin Valley, in the Western Cape, South Africa.
The informal settlement in which we are based is an impoverished community that is hugely reliant on the local fruit industry. The seasonal nature of this industry means that unemployment is prevalent for a number of months during the year. As this unemployment coincides with the winter months of the Western Cape, which can be particularly harsh, inhabitants of this informal settlement are vulnerable to the elements and malnutrition, exacerbated by the devastating effects of HIV AIDS and TB.
Our Mission & Vision
Siphila Sonke’s vision is to live in a caring community where no vulnerable person is left unassisted; where children are occupied, safe and are assisted to reach their potential.
Siphila Sonke’s goal is to provide physical, spiritual and emotional support to those who are ill, vulnerable and needy in Grabouw. Siphila Sonke strives to enable Beneficiaries of the above, support to regain their health, dignity and confidence, so that they may resume their role in the community.
Siphila Sonke’s Kids Club provides additional life skills, religious instruction, structured play and academic help to children from the community, and occupies and stimulates them after school and during school holidays. The goal for each child is to grow into a healthy, confident teenager with morals and values, a dream for his/her future, a sense of responsibility and self-discipline.
The Siphila Sonke team comprises a Board of Directors, an Executive Team, Staff members and up to 40 Volunteers.
Board of Directors
- Ann Bradford – Chair
- Brenda Silberbauer – Vice Chair
- Stuart Maxwell – Treasurer
- Dudley Adolph
- Kim Brown
- Bev Morgan
- Ann Bradford
- Linda Boyd
- Stuart Maxwell
- Bev Morgan
- Brenda Silberbauer
- Tina Johnson is Siphila Sonke’s Manager. She is responsible for the overall management of staff and co-ordination of Siphila Sonke’s activities. Tina has been at the helm of Siphila Sonke since 2015 and is a well-known member of our community.
- Linda Braun is our full-time Fieldworker. The majority of her time is spent working in the community – identifying and assessing new Food Parcel Beneficiaries, visiting and helping current Beneficiaries (which could be anything from encouragement, to summoning an ambulance). Linda also assists with the monthly food parcel deliveries. She actively networks with other community organisations and is secretary of our quarterly General Community Meeting. Linda is a qualified and experienced Home Based Carer and has been with Siphila Sonke since 2008.
- Unathi Ngonyama is our part-time Fieldworker and is responsible for our isiXhosa speaking Food Parcel Beneficiaries. Like Linda, she does Beneficiary interviews and assessments, home visits, record keeping, referral to other organisations and general assistance such as help with applying for documentation such as ID books and birth certificates. Additionally, Unathi helps with our food parcel deliveries at the end of each month. Unathi is a qualified and experienced Home Based Carer and joined Siphila Sonke in June 2014.
- Felistus Madondo is our full-time Kids Club and Support Group Co-ordinator. She manages the children’s activities each afternoon and during the school holidays, as well as regularly visit the childrens’ homes and schools to feedback to parents and check in with teachers regarding the childrens’ progress. Additionally, she co-ordinates the beneficiaries’ Beading & Crafting as well as the Sewing Support Groups, which take place on a Tuesday and Thursday mornings respectively, plus the Gardening Support Group which takes place daily each morning. Felistus also assists with sorting second hand clothing and maintaining our storerooms. Felistus is a qualified Teacher and Home Based Carer and joined Siphila Sonke in 2010.
- Maria is our General Assistant and helps with keeping the Church hall clean and ready for all activities to take place.
- Dume Manqatha has been appointed as Kids Club Facilitator since the beginning of 2016 to facilitate the CAMI educational computer training programme, which we introduced at the start of the school year as part of our Kids Club curriculum. He is fluent in Afrikaans, English and Xhosa and is a great asset to our team!
Siphila Sonke is fortunate to enjoy the support of up to 40 Volunteers from the community in the village of Grabouw and farming community of the Elgin Valley. Our Volunteers assist Siphila Sonke in many ways – from helping with the administrative elements of our organization, to assisting with our day-to-day core activities (Food Parcels, Home Visits, Support Group and Kids Club), to fundraising – the foundation of any charity! For more detail, see the section “Supporters – Volunteers”