The HIV/AIDS pandemic has affected 30 million people worldwide. Due to inadequate infrastructure and healthcare, it is the leading cause of death in sub-Sahara Africa, leaving communities challenged to meet basic needs and ensure a bright future for their children. In 2004, the Office of the President of South Africa declared Early Childhood Development (ECD) a priority. But rural, disadvantaged areas struggle to build facilities and receive training. In the Ufafa Valley, Ixopo, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, 78% of adults have voluntarily tested positive for HIV/AIDS. Children under age six that are orphans or have chronically ill parents are at risk of malnutrition, stunted development, and emotional trauma.
training for care providers.
In the year 2000, a Buddhist Retreat Center in the Ufafa Valley initiated a small project that grew to become an independent community nonprofit called Woza Moya, serving 8,000 of the valley's 23,000 residents with holistic care and support. In 2008, the community imagined creating an ECD center. From 2008 through 2010, Mothering Across Continents collaborated with Gavin Harrison and the Woza Moya Fundraising Project. Our supporters helped raise awareness and $50,000 to design, build and launch the Woza Moya Orphan and Vulnerable Children's Play Therapy Center.
Construction took place between February and September 2009. By 2010, the Center was open, serving children with meals, play experiences, and childcare. Part-time staff and volunteers have received ECD training. The Center has become self-sustaining with more than $100,000 raised from various sources and support from visiting teachers, trainers and groups such as Clowns Without Borders. A well and access center were added.
Research shows that cognitive development of children ages 1 to 5 prepares them to be more successful in school. At age six, the children from the center attend a local public school. Teachers have commented on how successfully they have been prepared to enter primary grades.
The Center was one of the first two education dream projects ever developed by Mothering Across Continents. Dr. Lyndall Hare, co-founder of Mothering Across Continents and former Board member, initiated the Woza Moya relationship. Catherine Anderson, artist and photographer, stays connected with the project. Teacher and poet Gavin Harrison, a South African resident of Hawaii, and long-time supporter of Woza Moya, and with whom we co-fundraised for the Center, has produced a beautiful book called Petals and Blood, with a portion of sales proceeds directed to the Woza Moya Project.