Ratang Bana means “Love the Children”.
No one can argue that HIV/AIDS hasn’t had a devastating impact on the lives of South African children. According to the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010, “In 2009 there were 330,000 children under 15 living with HIV in South Africa and 1.9 million AIDS orphans.” It was against this background that in 2009 Ingrid Moloi, a social worker and resident of Alexandra Township, founded Ratang Bana, a youth outreach project, offering support to child-headed households and other disadvantaged young people growing up in Alex.
Ratang Bana offers care, counselling and financial support for basics such as food and clothing. The project has also helped many children to access education and to given them hope for a brighter future. Ingrid, whose energy and resourcefulness seems endless, also works hard to ensure young people get involved in sport, leisure and creative activities. She is assisted by a team of local volunteers who together provide support to 500 children and young people from about 250 households.
Progress and development at the project has been considerable, with new initiatives getting off the ground each year:
- In 2012, the project moved from cramped and dingy premises to a new location on a hilltop overlooking the township. The new site then consisted of an office, storeroom, meeting room and work area for a doctor and health worker to visit the children. Outside a thriving food garden and shaded outdoor area was established
- In 2013, a learning centre was added, providing local children with both the space and the peace and quiet they need to do homework and extra studies. Computers were provided for the children to learn and practise computer skills
- Later, a recycling programme was started where, in return for receiving food parcels, the community collects bottles, cans and plastic for recycling
- A beautiful landscaped playground was also created for the children in 2013, thanks to our sister organisation Kidlinks World in the USA
- More recently, Ingrid has provided accommodation on the site for a small group of orphaned children with a resident ‘house mother’. A visiting group of UK donors funded a much-needed shower and washroom for the children
- Since 2012, with the help of four gardeners, the food garden has quadrupled in size. In return for free vegetables, grandmothers are encouraged to help in the garden at least once a week. Ingrid operates a policy of tough love – “nothing for nothing”. She expects people who benefit from the project to contribute in some way
- The Centre has also grown to include an HIV/AIDS support station run by HIVSA; a large kitchen, plus a mobile kitchen; an outdoor stage area for meetings and dance performances; and accommodation for a caretaker and gardener
- An ongoing support programme helps families and individuals with the process of obtaining the necessary documents to qualify for state financial support – an incredibly lengthy and bureaucratic process that they would simply not be able to manage without the additional help.