The Department of Social Development (DSD) recently held a forum meeting to discuss challenges and concerns faced by the communities and organizations of the Eastern Cape.  Nomzingisi and Sam attended the meeting as representatives of the Bulungula Incubator (BI) to express their concerns.  The  South African Police service, Elliotdale Family Preservation Program, and Donald Woods Foundation OVC Program were also present at the meeting.  When it was Bulungula’s time to speak, we explained our frustrations over not receiving funding from the DSD for the Jujurha Early Learning Centre preschool.  After two years of constant trips to and from Idutywa and Elliotdale, the preschool  received a registration certificate, despite having all the necessary requirements in place since mid-2009.  We are now battling to understand what more we need for the Department to fund the preschool. It is currently run with private donor funding and support from the Community Worker Programme (CWP), managed by the government ministry, CoGTA.  Finding donor funding can sometimes be precarious and hard for communities to access.  The only financially sustainable option for poor communities in Early Childhood Development is the DSD.  Furthermore, the Mgojweni community and the BI celebrated the opening of the Mgojweni Khanyisa Preschool, also being supported by donors and the CWP and we need the DSD’s help!

Another issue concerning the BI is the number of orphans and vulnerable children in our community who have not been issued foster care grants, resulting in even more of a financial struggle each month.  A social worker simply needs to visit the community to approve the children’s vulnerable status and their foster care grants will be authorized.  The Department of Social Development explained that they are without transport and the government will not allow them to take public transportation to perform case work.

Despite frustrations with having no immediate solution to our concerns, discussion of ways forward were encouraging.  A new committee is in the process of being created that will help facilitate the South African government’s effort in bringing services to communities.  Nomzingisi was selected to serve on the committee on behalf of the BI.  Another forum meeting will be held next month, hopefully with clear guidelines on how the Department of Social Development will better serve the people of Xhora Mouth.

Armed with the South African Constitution, Nomzingisi attends the forum meeting to fight for children’s right to foster grants.