Asibavikele is a nationally driven and nationally co-coordinated programme that facilitates community based care and support to orphans and vulnerable children in disadvantaged communities via the comprehensive infrastructure and collective action of Child Welfare South Africa (CWSA), its member organisations and trained community volunteers. The programme involves communities in the identification and care of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC), sensitize communities to the rights of children and establish foster care and safe homes. As a National programme, the project aims to strengthens support services to NPO and CBO member organisations of Child Welfare South Africa. The unique component of Child Welfare South Africa’s Asibavikele programme is the emphasis on strengthening social development services to children at risk through the ongoing supervision and support to volunteers thus facilitating access of HIV positive children to comprehensive, integrated social development services. The Asibavikele programme is well renowned for its ability to develop the skills and capacity of the community to identify and actively engage local structures to response to the child protection needs of children. The training and supervision given to community volunteers throughout the life span of the programme aims to develop community cadre that is attuned to the needs of children and can mobilize the community to address such needs.
The program was rolled out nationally to 80 sites through the comprehensive infrastructure and of Child Welfare South Africa (CWSA), its member organisations and trained community volunteers. The programme involves communities in the identification and care of OVC, sensitizes communities to the rights of children and establishes foster care and safe homes. The programme has been established in nine provinces at 82 sites across the country through the financial assistance of PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) and the Global Fund. The Project has trained over 2000 volunteers.
An evaluation was conducted by an external evaluator commissioned by PACT/ USAID to identify how the project had contributed to child well-being and how it had strengthened community capacity to respond to vulnerable children.
Material environment/safety nets
- Asibavikele played a significant role in providing material safety nets for vulnerable children in all Project sites.
- Asibavikele facilitated access to food support.
- Volunteers helped families access state support through social grants.
- Asibavikele played a significant role in improving children’s access to formal health care.
Social ecology/normalising children’s environments and routines
- Recreational and support groups held by Asibavikele volunteers played an important protective role in children’s lives. Children who are part of the Asibavikele Project have a bigger and deeper peer and adult support network. Most project group children see the volunteers as people they can trust and talk to.
Access to school
- The Asibavikele Project makes an impact in the area of school attendance, particularly in not dropping out of school. Though children in the Project and Control groups face the same barriers to school-going the Project children receive significant support both practical and emotional to go to school and to keep going. In some areas volunteers are strong advocates and monitors of orphan children’s rights to access schooling.
Health and a continuum of services
- Children in the Project group were referred to other services more often than children in the Control group providing access to continuing of services.
Health and a continuum of services
- Volunteers played a significant role in the communities in which they work in supporting vulnerable children.
- Social workers saw the volunteers as an important and often essential part of their ability to deal with the burden of cases they have to process.
- The evaluation highlighted a number of examples of Asibavikele volunteers finding and using local resources such as commercial enterprise and police services for the benefit of vulnerable children.