Model child care organisation celebrates 20 years of success

2009-03-23 00:00

It began in Edendale Hospital, when a group called Thandanani visited neglected and orphaned children living there and tried to find ways to give them a better life. Twenty years on, Thandanani, which means "to love one another", has developed into one of KwaZulu-Natal's most important organisations working with orphaned and vulnerable children.

To mark the anniversary, Thandanani Children's Foundation held a celebratory lunch on Friday where current staff and volunteers as well as contributers over the past 20 years looked back.

Professor Philippe Denis, who was instrumental in Thandanani's growth in the early '90s, said, "We are here to look back in order to look forward and we discover that we have come from a rich past."

Denis, the head of an oral history NGO called Sinamlando, said that at a time when NGOs face an uncertain future, Thandanani stands tall and secure. "This is the first major OVC [orphans and vulnerable children] programme in KZN and its model is one that others look to," he said. Thandanani launched its community project in 1997, but in 2004 a financial crisis almost crippled the organisation. It took dedicated work from people such as current director Duncan Andrew and chairman Larry Tooke to resurrect the organisation. Five years later the NGO works in 17 communities, looking after 2 386 children in 700 households in the Msunduzi Municipality and Richmond.

Guest speaker Bongi Zengele of the University of KwaZulu-Natal said Thandanani poses a challenge to people who live with all the modern conveniences. "Close by there are people without any of these comforts," she said.

Andrew said the importance of the event was to acknowledge the many volunteers that work in the communities as well as funders and people with vision who have shaped Thandanani into a sustainable organisation. Andrew said that "as a single organisation, we are not big enough to help everyone, which means there is scope for other players to help these children".

Thandanani can be reached at 033 345 1857 or its website at www.thandanani.org.za

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