Following the election of our Board and President in Durban, South Africa, members took part in a practice exchange – one of Family’s key activities. This included a site visit to CINDI and to the offices of their members in Pietermaritzburg to get a better understanding of their projects.

One of the visits was to a community centre run by a single woman. Her initial involvement, caring for children in the community, began as a reaction to an increase of orphaned and vulnerable children in her neighbourhood. As the numbers grew, with CINDI’s help, she started to focus on providing day care for those children whose parents were unable to care for them full time. Additionally, with the help of her dedicated team, she established a large garden which provides food for the children and supplements for some of the most vulnerable families in the community. CINDI has helped her apply for government loans to ensure that the activities of her community centre continue.

One of the other projects visited was a welfare centre in Mpolweni which specialises in work with foster children. Their activities include monitoring children’s attendance at school and providing home-based carers who support children affected by HIV and TB. Whilst the project faces challenges of understaffing, with only one social worker responsible for the care of over 350 children, and very basic facilities, their membership of CINDI has helped alleviate some of their difficulties. CINDI offers training to staff, invaluable advice on the reintegration of children and has helped with administrative and office functions. This way carers have more time to work directly with children.

The practice exchange ended with a presentation from some of the children being helped by CINDI. These boys and girls are currently working on a project to create safe zones for children around Pietermaritzburg so that they can travel to and from school safely. The children had been elected to represent their school year group by their classmates and spoke with passion and knowledge about the issue. This kind of project aims to increase opportunities for child participation.