Thembanathi is a grassroots fundraising organization dedicated to providing support to community-based organizations in South Africa offering education, support, and care for young people and their families. The programs we support are based in communities that face some of the highest HIV rates anywhere in the world, as well as the long-term effects of decades of systematic inequality and poverty. In this context, we believe that effective interventions must be structural, and must start with young people. In these areas, where more than one in four adults is HIV-positive, nearly all children are impacted by the effects of HIV/AIDS. Rather than targeting so-called ‘AIDS orphans’–an approach that can isolate and stigmatize these young people, we focus on supporting educational programs and community development initiatives that benefit all young people in affected communities. Our model focuses on community-based and community-driven programs that provide culturally appropriate forms of education and care for young people, while at the same time strengthening families and communities to build sustainable solutions for their own children.
Thembanathi also believes that economic opportunities for women are a critical component of care and support in communities affected by HIV, and a key strategy for HIV prevention. Thus, we also support several income generation projects in KwaZulu-Natal by providing a market for the jewelry and other crafts they make. After providing the crafters with a fair wage for their work, we use 100% of the proceeds from the product sales to support our programs for children in the region.
Thembanathi is affiliated with Even Ground, an umbrella organization composed of several programs around the world. All of Even Ground’s projects were started by young people to provide support for the education of children in impoverished and HIV-affected areas. We have been a central project of OAA since the organization was founded in 2003. Even Ground provides administrative and developmental support, as well as creating a collaborative network of small, like-minded organizations. Even Ground’s partner organizations work together to improve our services, raise funds, and expand our programming to benefit young people in areas affected by HIV.