WATCH | Aids centre Nkosi's Haven stares closure in the face due to a lack of funds

2020-02-10 19:50

Nkosi's Haven Village, one of the oldest HIV/Aids Centres in South Africa, is struggling to keep its doors open due to a lack of funding.

The centre cares for and feeds affected and infected mothers and children. Google honoured Nkosi Johnson with a Google doodle on February 4. He would have turned 31 this year.

The 21-year-old organisation in Vereeniging, Johannesburg, which was established as part of the South African HIV/Aids activist's legacy, currently cares for and feeds 134 mothers and their children as well as orphans.

The facility, which has a monthly running cost of R435 000, is struggling to make ends meet and it is unable to meet the salary requirements of its 21 employees.

"We are in financial trouble," Nkosi's Haven founder and director Gail Johnson told News24.

"Our cash flow is in serious trouble. We have one corporate supporting us on a monthly basis, which is fabulous, but we need more."

Despite the global recognition and international funding that it once had soon after Nkosi died in 2001 at the age of 12, the facility has struggled to secure government funding.

Johnson said she would not be surprised if it had to close its doors.

'No government support'

"We are not getting government support from the Department of Social Development but that is not without trying. We have had issues getting to the right people and submitting a grant application," she added.

The haven is registered as a child and youth care centre at national level, but Johnson said it was having problems with the provincial social development department.

"We could apply for a childcare centre grant that covers and subsidises certain salaries, certain running costs, food and obviously the costs of maintaining an orphan. If that came in, then anything over and above that is a bonus," she added.

National department spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said non-profit organisations (NPOs), which wished to get funding, should comply with the Children's Act.

"When working with children, you have to be compliant with the Children's Act which has specific requirements.

"That compliance is done by the province and it may have seen she [Johnson] was not completely compliant. It's difficult to get funding as the pie gets bigger with more players, and the money is small. To get funding, one must meet all the service standards."

Oliphant said the department could not support something that does not follow the basics. 

"The department won't just reject you. We send a call for proposals at the end of every financial year in October, it's not just automatic [to get funding]. Provincial departments follow similar advertisement criteria." 

She added the national department funded more than 22 000 NPOs, saying it spent about R6.7bn, with most of the money being allocated to NPOs which provided services to children.

Nowhere to go 

A beneficiary and resident of Nkosi's Haven, Wilhemina Pretorius, said like many of the other women at the facility, she had nowhere to go if the centre closed.

"If these doors were to close, where must we go, especially with our kids? I'm here because I am HIV positive and this place helped me a lot. Two years ago, I was very sick when I came to Nkosi's Haven," she added.

"This place helped me to build a family, with love, caring and respect and being there for one another. It would be very sad [if it closed] because this place helped me a lot.

"This is our home. This place helps to heal and make new people out of us," Pretorius said.

Read more on:    nkosi johnson  |  johannesburg  |  health

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