- Caring for the Orphans in South Africa
This paper comes as a result of the hard and compassionate work being done amongst the poor communities in Southern Africa by the Centre for Church Leadership and Community Development (CCLCD). CCLCDis a faith-based charity organisation existing as a catalyst for human development and empowerment projects geared towards sustainable livelihoods. We demonstrate our love of God by helping others in need, as affirmed by our mission statement:
As a body of believers, we affirm our limitless efforts in educationof historically disadvantaged communities, poverty alleviation, rehabilitation and sustainable livelihoods regardless of gender, race, political or religious affiliation.
CCLCD was established in 1995 by the clergy from some evangelical churches in South Africa who had recognised a dire need for liberating post-apartheid theological education, fostering national reconciliation activities, and redressing the economic imbalances in society. Another realisation was social uncertainty, which was manifested through people who had lived in exile. In responding to new challenges that affected people who returned from exile, there were also pressing needs likesocial integration, job creation and building the capacity of returnees for self-reliance. CCLCD recognised the commitment of church leaders to helping desperate families and as a result decided to start the programme of empowering pastors to effectively engage on social functions and help those in need. Hence, the following objectives:
a. To become efficient instruments for self-support and family stability
b. To help the people of God to realise their potentials and give the necessary support to the realisation of God's given potentials. [End Page 193]
c. To engage in activities that will alleviate poverty and suffering in communities caused by unemployment, lack of desired skills and long effects of apartheid policies.
d. To promote peace, reconciliation, moral regeneration, and justice in society.
e. To establish a strong and efficient training programme that will build the capacity of the clergy in socio-economic and political development issues, associated and embraced by contextual theology.
f. To provide free counselling, career guidance, entrepreneurial skills and health care services to vulnerable community members.
It is in the context of the Doing Theology in Community Development paradigm, interacting with organisations like CCLCD, that hope emerged. It is in the light of CCLCD projects in humanitarian work that this article will look into the suffering of children and some obvious causes that need our attention, especially being orphaned through HIV/AIDS and exposure to abuse. I feel the Church has an important role to play in addressing some of those issues. Hopefully, this approach will create a setting in which the particular situations of the children can be understood and humanely addressed. References to training of poor and vulnerable children to become self-sufficient, independent and to be able to support their own families will also be suggested.
In South Africa, children are regarded as the hope for a better future, on which a new and empowering participation in God's economy, understanding of nationhood and active equal participation to make life better for all can be enhanced. This phenomenon can be experienced without looking back at the bad history of this country, where family education in some areas contributed in raising awareness towards racial prejudice, otherness and establishing dehumanising policies. It is now after tenyears that things have started to change for the better, as the new nation, meaning children from different races, are mingling freely without fear or suspicion of one another. This move can be marked as the beginning of the successful divine plan in uniting God's people not only in hearts and minds, but also in building the economy where poverty can be eradicated from society.
While the efforts of the government, non-governmental organisations, religious bodies, civil society and international agencies try to push the agenda of poverty alleviation, there is however one particular hindrance [End Page 194] impeding sustainable livelihoods: HIV/AIDS. As one involved in humanitarian relief work, it has become clear to me that the suffering of children who have lost their parents to the HIV/AIDS monster sometimes cannot be fully appreciated. The loss of parents means that children must learn to live...