As CINDI celebrates its 21st year of existence, their goal to help build communities and support children in need still stands.The Children In Distress Network, known as CINDI, is a Pietermaritzburg-based network of organisations that work with vulnerable children. The network operates across KZN but primarily around Pietermaritzburg and is also part of a global network alliance called Family for Every Child.Neill Stevenson, the programme manager spearheading the May’khethele (our choice, our future) Programme, said Pietermaritzburg provided the first leadership of the global network alliance as the director of CINDI, Rekha Nathoo, was elected as the first president of the alliance in 2012.“I think it’s amazing that this local NGO that just turned 21 is affiliated with this global alliance and brings that global influence into the local context to serve the young people of ’Maritzburg better,” said Stevenson.Stevenson said the network consisted of a couple of hundred non-government and community-based organisations who work together to assist and support vulnerable children and those directly or indirectly affected by HIV and Aids.Although the organisation does not necessarily work directly with the youngsters in need, their goal is to build the capacity of the organisations that are able to serve vulnerable children, youth, and adolescence girls, and train caregivers on proper ways of caring and communicating with children.The CINDI May’khethela Project, which started in October 2007, entered its 10th year funded by the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) and implemented by Community Care Projects, Life Line and Youth for Christ.“The project has exceeded all targets and has had clean compliance audits. As a result, Usaid has extended the programme for an additional year ending in 2018,” he said.The May’khethela programme consists of a number of interventions including HIV preventions; assisting in providing legal documents enabling individuals to receive social grants; education support through school uniform, stationary and academic assistance; and health testing and screening.The programme, which is currently operating in 100 schools in the uMgungundlovu District, in the past year alone delivered 272 315 interventions to orphans, vulnerable children, youth and their caregivers with a special emphasis on adolescent girls and young women.Stevenson, who before joining the CINDI team was in business management consultancy, said: “Research shows that they are the most vulnerable.”He said his career move was an effort to make a difference in people’s lives.“In order to create an environment where a child can strive, we also need to deal with the context in which they exist, for example, economic strengthening of the household and the ability of the parents or the caregivers to communicate with the child.” he said.The director of CINDI, Nathoo, said her passion was to create a safe environment for those who were vulnerable and in need. Nathoo said apathy was probably the reason Pietermaritzburg and KZN as a whole was always at the top of the chart when it comes to negative things in terms of child abuse, sexual abuse and other social ills.“This is not a researched view but is my personal opinion we are very apathetic. We don’t do anything as people and as a society and that’s what we are trying to change,” said Nathoo.The CINDI team thanked the public of Pietermaritzburg who have been supporting them with all sorts of donations over the years.