Vriendelike Voëltjies Given Wings to Fly

16 Days for Youth Initiative provides the infrastructure to Comply with Regulation and Receive Government Assistance

Caledon, Tuesday 04 June. Day 4 of the annual Heart FM initiative, 16 Days for Youthand the core team of presenters and volunteers have left their mark at “Vriendelike Voëltjies”, a local pre-school in the town of Caledon. The team spent the day making some improvements to the educare centre; both aesthetic and structural, which will now open doors for consideration for government funding.

16 Days for Youthis an initiative that aims to highlight the plights of those who are making a difference in their communities, often out of the generosity of their own hearts, taking care of those in need by digging in their own pockets and offering their personal time or resources.

Cathy Baadjies is one such individual. Five years ago Cathy identified the need for an educare facility for the impoverished community in Caledon. What started out as a creche she ran from home, soon became too small to accommodate the number of children who needed day-care. Today, she rents four classrooms from the local primary school, which she often pays for out of her own pocket.

The South African NPO sector is characterised by two types of organisations, the first being service driven, and the second being organisations that focus on human rights, advocacy and monitoring. The former fulfils the role of providing much needed social services to underprivileged communities, such as this. At present, South Africa has an extensive non-governmental sector consisting of roughly 100 000 registered non-profit organisations (NPOs) and an estimated 50 000 unregistered ones.

Funding is a major obstacle that NGOs in South Africa face. Donations, particularly from individual and private donors, have diminished substantially. The recession has also seen Corporate Social Investment (CSI) budgets reduced and as a result of reduced private and corporate donor funding, many NGOs have sought more funding from government to keep afloat, ultimately creating increased competition among NGOs for government funds.

Then there are compliance requirements, which are crucial to the issuing of certificates, therefor allowing for grants. A conundrum for most establishments that are privately run by ordinary members of our communities.

“Vriendelike Voëltjies” is no different. Apart from the monthly rent, financial commitments include staff salaries, maintenance, toys, educational training and development, to name a few. The minimal school fee charged is somewhat unreliable due to the low-income households that these children come from.

Heart FM rallied their resources and came to visit with building supplies, hardware, colourful paint and playground equipment to upgrade the playground and the ablution facilities. A local team of handymen and plumbers were hired to refurbish the toilets and install a new geyser. The upgrade of the facility means that Cathy can call the health inspector back, almost immediately and apply for a grant.

Cathy comments, “We have been given a second chance! This opportunity has been a true blessing – a gift from above – timing is everything, and I was about to give up hope. Now we have a renewed sense of hope and pray we are finally that much closer to financial aid.”

Ancillary services that have come on this year’s 16 Days for Youth initiative, include a feeding scheme, oral hygiene and a barber. Tannie Magda from Paarl, a 2016 recipient of the project, is now able to give back by helping to feed those in the communities we visit each day. Dentist, Ryan Muller, is providing free tooth brushes and toothpaste after educating the children about oral hygiene after being involved last year, he was approached by Colgate to run a mobile unit, which enables him to conduct outreach programs in the rural communities. This year, listener Warren Theunis, approached the station to offer his services to those who can’t afford basic grooming costs such as a barber.

Breakfast show host, Aden Thomas comments, “This initiative is about more than just coming for a day and returning to our normal lives. It’s about making a real difference, creating sustainable solutions and leaving a legacy.  Through creating a platform we enable our listeners, partners and clients to be involved with and make a difference in our communities by becoming agents of change”.

For more information about the initiative, go to http://16daysforyouth.com/

Follow the journey on social media @heart104.9fm or @16DaysForYouth