Ithemba is a special day care center where mentally and often physically disabled children aged between six and 18 can go to.
About the Program
The intention of a special day care centre like this is to give disabled children the attention and support they need (knowledge, time and means are usually insufficient in townships).
Next to education and attention, Ithemba includes the teaching of basic life skills. In this way more independency is created. This is a very useful and positive development (especially for disabled children) as they can maintain themselves better in society. Furthermore, Ithemba tries to include parents in the program to expand their knowledge of different disabilities and how to cope with them.
Ithemba came into existence in September 1988, when 3 local community members were discussing the fact that mentally disabled children didn’t have the opportunity to educate and develop themselves because there was no special day care centre. To examine the real need for such a centre they enumerated the level of demand within the townships. Especially parents of mentally disabled children were asked for their opinion. Apparently, the parents encountered a lot of problems which they were unable to tackle themselves. The biggest problems were lack of attention, lack of tools, stalled development and no independency. The early founders of Ithemba concluded that the existing level of demand for a special day care centre was huge and proceeded to put the original idea into reality.
They started a centre for disabled township children that at first, was run from an empty ward at the hospital. As more parents heard about the centre the numbers of children attending increased. The ward became too crowded and the founders of Ithemba realized the need to build their own centre.
Today Ithemba has its own centre with 3 classrooms, a therapy room, office, kitchen and volunteer offices, playground and gardens around the premises providing daily support to up to 44 children with a team of 3 teachers, class assistants, a cook, Centre Manager and other supporting staff.
To be a dynamic movement thus supporting handicapped children in attaining optimal mental wellbeing and quality of life in society.
We actively work with the community to achieve the highest possible level of mental health for all by:
The existence and continuity of Ithemba can only be assured because of our loyal staff. They create an environment where the children can learn several skills and develop themselves by offering a structured program.
As a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) Ithemba relies heavily on subsidies, parents contributions and donations. Next to the need for support by active involvement of volunteers Ithemba also has ongoing financial needs such as:
Kitchen supplies such as cooking gas, utensils, etc.
Craft and drawing materials (crayons, pencils, paint etc)
Tooth paste and brushes
First aid supplies such as plasters and bandages
Gardening needs such as tools, seeds and soil
The support of volunteer and trainees will consist of several tasks:
A general schedule is as follows:
07h30 Departures from Volunteer House
08h30-09h20 Arrival group 1- Going to the toilet/bathroom and individual work
09h20-09h30 Arrival group 2
09h30-10h00 Morning greeting, exercises, prayers (everyone is involved)
10h00-10h30 Breakfast- helping children that struggle with feeding
10h30-11h00 Lesson of the day-including numeracy/colours/theme of the month
11h00-11h30 Creative activities - garden work (help of volunteers and assistants)
11h30-12h00 Outdoor sports, games, singing, organized plays (mostly supported by volunteers)
12h00-12h25 Sounds and communications-words-story time
12h30-13h00 Lunch – supported by volunteers and assistants
12h45-13h00 Teeth brushing
13h30 Departure group 1 (volunteers take charge of group 2 until their departure)
14h30 Pick up to go home
Please note that Ithemba will be closed for the school holidays throughout the year and that during those weeks any volunteers will be supporting holiday programs for the youth at one of our other programs: Izizwe Projects.
PE is the biggest city of the Eastern Cape, with approximately 1.2 million inhabitants (including the Northern areas, Despatch and Uitenhage). In the Eastern Cape you will find cities such as Bisho, King William’s Town and Umtata which can be found in the regions of the Transkei and Ciskei, which were known as ‘homelands’ in the Apartheid years.
During the Apartheid era, the ‘homelands’ were the home of the Xhosa speaking people. There weren’t a lot of facilities and work opportunities in those areas. Many off the Xhosa people worked in the bigger cities, but went home every year to visit their families. Fort Hare University was the only university in the area where Xhosa people were allowed to study. Famous politicians namely Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Steve Biko completed their studies at this university. Although Bisho is the capital of the Eastern Cape, it remains poor and an undeveloped city. Many people moved from these homelands to Port Elizabeth in search of employment and a better life.
The Eastern Cape is as culturally diverse as it is in nature and the climate of the region. The diversity in culture is represented by the black population (mostly Xhosa speaking), coloureds, Indian and white people of Port Elizabeth. As you can see here and will surely notice in South Africa; we do not mind using the colour of our skins to be identified with, so there is nothing insulting to call somebody black if they are.
The Eastern Cape and the surroundings of Port Elizabeth show a large variety of natural beauty and make PE a great central place to visit the variety of South Africa. To the East you will find the Wild coast (former Transkei and Ciskei) which is mostly rural and undeveloped, but closer you will find Addo Elephant Park and great coastal villages such as Port Alfred.
To the North you will find the great Karoo; a semi desert area with wide open spaces, large nature areas and long open roads with historical places such as Graaff Reinet, the Baviaanskloof Wilderness and much more. To the East towards Cape Town, you will be amazed by the Tsitsikamma National Park, holiday villages such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and natures Valley or the surf mecca of Jeffrey’s Bay. This gives you plenty to see and visit while you are here.
Pick up upon arrival and drop off at the end of your stay.
The volunteer house lies in the popular beach front area of Humewood, and is only a five minute walk away from the beach. Shops, beachfront cafés, restaurants and access to other facilities are all within easy reach. It’s the perfect location to enjoy the beach after work or during weekends.
The volunteer house offers spacious living conditions and is shared with other volunteers who work at Door of Hope, Missionvale Care Centre and Izizwe Township Projects making it the perfect place to enjoy your stay with other volunteers from all over the world.
It is fully furnished and has all the facilities needed and more; two kitchens, two washing machines, a dining room and TV lounge, a garden with a swimming pool to cool off, great views of the ocean and 9 bedrooms offering a variety of sleeping options. Wireless internet is free; just bring your own laptop or any other device to access the Wi-Fi network.
We even have a full time cleaning lady, as we believe in offering local employment but especially in offering clean and well looked after accommodation. All bedding is provided, but no towels, so please bring your own.
Depending on how busy it is, you will share a room with other volunteers, some rooms are very large, which offer dorm style accommodation (4 beds in a room), others are a bit smaller for only 2 volunteers sharing. Male and female volunteers will have separate rooms and bathrooms to use. We have a total of 6 bathrooms in the house.
If you would like to have a private room, we will gladly see if we can arrange that for the small surcharge per week. Couples and older volunteers will have preference for private rooms if available, but if you want to be guaranteed a private room we will have to charge this extra fee. Let us know if you want more information.
Three meals per day are included and we work on a set menu per week. There is free coffee, tea and cordial juice available at any time. For breakfast you will have toast, fruit yoghurt, cereal and/or eggs. For lunch you can have sandwiches with cheese, marmalade, cold meats or other spreads. There will be a variety in our dinners, since all of the volunteers have different skills and preferences. So, if you would like to show off your cooking skills, then please do!
Please tell our coordinators about any wishes, vegetarian wishes and allergies concerning food.
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