Khayalethu – Project for youth at risk
Khayalethu serves children living on the streets in and around the city of Pietermaritzburg. Working with children, youth and their families in areas of prevention and early intervention, the intention is to preserve the family structure.
Urbanisation, high unemployment, crime and political violence in South Africa during the 1980s and the 1990s produced a chaotic social environment in which the HIV and AIDS pandemic flourished and stable life regressed. This has resulted in the breakdown of the family values. Children, as a result began to experience:
- having to head households
- lack of education
- staying with grannies/extended family members
The consequences generally have devastating effects on the children:
- begging on the streets
- transactional sex
- lack of skills due to lack of education
Khayalethu Programmes Philosophy & Models
Outreach Programme (Street Work):
The outreach team provides interactive street based interventions to children on the streets so that they return home or into a short-term residential based program. The program’s goal is to build trust with vulnerable young people and encourage them to make positive life choices, such as moving off the streets. Following is the process/model that results in the child placed back with their family or alternative placement that all parties agree to.
Boys & Girls Temporary Residential Programme:
The Khayalethu residential program (shelter)aims to provide a safe, secure and child-friendly environment for children. These children are either referred to internally by a programme of Khayalethu or any other institution/agency that we link with. Children in the shelters are between the ages of 10-18 years. The boys shelter can accommodate up to 25 boys, and the girls shelter up to 15 girls. The shelters are registered and meet the requirements of Department of Social Development. The children are placed as overnights or for a period of up to 1 year. Whilst in the shelter they take part in a rehabilitation program preparing them to be reunited with their families.
Community Family Preservation Programme:
The community team aims to encourage family preservation so that children in high risk communities do not turn to the streets. Khayalethu works from drop in centres in 6 communities, namely Swapo, Mountainrise, Mason, Mafunze and KwaQanda. Children who attend the centres are those who have never left the community or the ones who have been reunified with their families. Children who have been reunited with their families and require further support are cared for by the Family Care Unit Program, who monitor the relationship of child and family. Families are involved in their own development while the programme develops the parents and forms linkages with the community leaders to strengthen families. Asilahli Lutho Women’s Project aims to break the cycle of poverty within communities – see The Partnership – August 2014.
The journey of a child at Khayalethu Project includes outreach, residential care, social work intervention and counseling, community development and family care/after care support. We honour the right of a child to participate in their holistic development, and do not treat children as “cases”. We encourage team work for the multi-disciplinary approach to assist the children in their growth. The best interest of the child is always at the centre of all activities.