Keep the Dream 196, or KTD196, is a Tzaneen-based organisation helping make youngsters’ dreams come true by providing support and care, particularly for orphans, caregivers and vulnerable children.
Keep the Dream works in areas where communities are under extreme pressure from unemployment, lack of healthcare, growing poverty and high rates of HIV/Aids infections.
Many children are their families’ sole breadwinners, after parents have succumbed to the illness, or have travelled to look for work.
“We work with orphans and vulnerable children in particular,” says Louise Batty, one of the organisation’s founders.
Batty is a professional nurse employed by the Department of Health and was seconded to a local home-based care organisation in Tzaneen.
“These children enter the programme with low self-esteem, [low] self-confidence and a hopeless outlook towards life. Seeing all of this change quickly as the kids progress through the programme is awe-inspiring. They become so confident and purpose-filled in their outlook and their actions.”
Keep the Dream 196 took off in 2003 when a Choice Trust focus group, comprising 180 home-based care volunteers, expressed concerns over problems facing the orphaned and vulnerable children in their villages in the north of Limpopo.
Batty, with primary school teacher Elizabeth Mabuza, laid the organisation’s foundations, with 13 girls participating in their initial programme. By the end of the year they had managed to train 50 new volunteers and had more than 1 000 kids in the programme.
“We have been in existence for 10 years this month (November); we started with 13 girls and now we have 2 456 children in 91 different sites around Greater Tzaneen Municipality,” says Batty.
“We see the impact of our work every day and it is so encouraging to see these kids go on to become contributing members of society after overcoming so much.”
THERAPY, SKILLS AND COMMUNICATION
The organisation runs a number of projects, training caregivers and children in communication and leadership skills. It also tackles reproductive health, teaches caregivers and children about their legal rights and responsibilities, and facilitates group therapy developing “circles of support” with the children.
The three-year KTD196 Food for Life training programme teaches young people how to harvest water, to compost and cook, practise subsistence farming, and marketing and basic bookkeeping.
The training programme also helps children develop their self-discipline and team work skills and introduces first aid.
Keep the Dream offers remedial classes for those who have had to drop out of school to care for younger siblings or sick family members. It helps families apply for social grants, and helps older children apply for scholarships and bursaries by providing access to information and computers.
Batty says what moves her most about working with the children is that, “they’re not happy with the status quo of the now, the crime, corruption and despair; they want to be part of the solution and make a real difference in the lives of others and they do that now, not when everything is going right for them but now when life is tough and they don’t have parents or enough food or resources. They share what they have and do what they can. This is humbling to watch and be a part of.
“Their past is a stepping stone to their destiny and not a stumbling block or a millstone around their necks.
“They are the new South Africa.”
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