Short description

The Community Health Programme provides educational workshops to disadvantaged communities on cost effective methods of managing their health while living with chronic diseases; and the Youth Programme assists young adults in their transition from living in a Child and Youth Care Centre to becoming independent, flourishing adults.


Lack of access to health information

The HST District Health Barometer 2013 described South Africa as having the 3rd highest burden of TB; the highest TB incidence rate (1003 per 100 000); and one of the largest drug resistant TB epidemics globally, alongside approximately 370 000 new HIV infections in 2012. The MRC’s Burden of Disease Research Unit found that hypertension rates have increased over the last decade, and that diabetes and high cholesterol levels are on the rise in South Africa. It is clear from these indicators that more preventative work is needed.

Education in health and nutrition is widely accepted as a key component in promoting health and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases. However, in South Africa, the majority of public health resources are heavily overburdened with the responsibility of delivering primary health care services to the majority of the country, leaving inadequate time and resources for addressing the on-going need for essential health education, particularly with regard to preventable conditions. This situation is particularly prevalent in marginalised communities resulting in many people being poorly equipped to understand or take responsibility for their health.

The Health Systems Trust confirms that there is a gap in health promotion in South Africa. Health promotion is recognised by the government as important in promoting and maintaining a healthy South African population. Furthermore it is part of the government’s health strategy to increase the focus on health promotion and prevention of infectious and chronic diseases.

Lack of access to support services for youth in state care

The Department of Social Development acknowledges that youth who have grown up in alternative care, and particularly, in residential care, are more likely than other young people to be at higher risk of dropping out of school; being affected by low educational achievement and learning disabilities; being challenged by limited social skills and additional emotional and behavioural difficulties. After having been cared for within an institutional setting, where all of their basic needs are met, returning to an under-resourced community where they are expected to meet their own needs can be extremely challenging for these young people.

Given that many centres do not provide support, many young people are left ill prepared for their transition. After years of stability in the care system, they are faced with the same challenges that forced them into state care in the first place – substance abuse, poverty, unemployment, lack of access to resources and limited networks of support. Often these young people who are not adequately supported in their transition to adulthood then have children who are placed in alternative care as they do not have the means to support them. In other cases, these young people turn to crime to survive, and enter the criminal justice system.



Mamelani Projects was officially established in 2003 with the mission to create “positive transformation in communities where there is a gap in support services, support systems and information”. The organisation helps create this positive transformation by implementing two programmes: the community health programme and the youth development programme.

Community Health Programme: Through training workshops this programme aims to increase the knowledge of individuals, particularly women, about infectious diseases and chronic diseases of lifestyle. Community members are taught how to manage these diseases by supporting their prescribed medication with low cost healthy cooking. The training is administered by Mamelani trainers over an eight week period, once a week for roughly four hours at a venue in the community. Before training commences the group selects the topics that are most relevant to them.

After the eight week training, trainers identify members of the group who are active in their community and take action to improve the health of community members. These individuals are invited to participate in the Community Champions Programme. This programme is 18 months long and includes workshops which focus on self-development. At the end of the workshop process, the participants complete an individual development plan towards their future goals. The Champions also receive mentorship for a year towards reaching these goals. Group meetings where all the Champions get together are held once a quarter. Furthermore, each Champion is registered for skills development including various soft and hard skills training such as home-based care and financial management.

Youth Development Programme: This is a long-term intervention that aims to enable young people who leave state care to make a smooth transition into adulthood. The programme begins 18 months before beneficiaries leave the Child and Youth Care Centre, with Mamelani developing an individual development plan for each young person. Support takes the form of experiential group work and individual one-on-one mentoring on a monthly basis. Young people also attend Rites of Passage camps to mark the transitions they are moving through. Mamelani assists these young people in a number of ways including providing practical support like acquiring important documents such as IDs, gaining cooking skills along with other skills for coping as adults. Time is invested in preparing the young people emotionally for the transition.

Once the children turn 18 many are forced to leave care and become vulnerable again. Mamelani continues to provide financial, practical support to ensure that as young adults they are able to continue with their education if desired. Youth are also supported in gaining employment through work readiness and job placement processes, including paid internships facilitated by Mamelani.

What we like about this organisation

  • Mamelani provides holistic support with programmes that focus on physical health and emotional wellbeing. Furthermore beneficiaries are supported in creating economic opportunities for themselves by sending them for training to acquire skills they can use to start or maintain income generating initiatives in their communities, such as ECD centres. Mamelani’s intervention focuses on teaching workshop participants low-cost ways of keeping healthy, and mitigating the risks associated with preventable conditions as well as how to live well with chronic diseases
  • The knowledge passed to workshop participants allows them to maintain their health using low-cost practical methods. The workshops are a form of preventative intervention. In the long term, this could ease the burden on the country’s health services which are currently under tremendous strain. The community members choose which topics to cover thus workshops are consultative and respond to an identified need in the communities.
  • By providing support to young people who have been asked to transition from alternative care to independent living, the organisation prepares and continues to support and empower the individuals to become self-sustainable through continuing with their education, studying further or finding a job.

What difference can your money make?

  • R10 000 will provide 30 women with individual mentoring sessions towards reaching their health goals or 3 unemployed women with skills training opportunities that lead to employment. Alternatively it will provide 5 young people with a 1-month paid internship or school fees and materials for three young people’s school needs at special needs schools.
  • R250 000 will enable 150 unemployed women to attend an eight-week long Wellness Workshops series, along with skills training and mentoring for 10% of the attendees.
  • R750 000 would support half of the 40 young people in their transition from a child and youth care centre by assisting with their accommodation, mentoring, school fees and paid internships. It would also enable Mamelani to provide capacity building support to five child and youth care centres over a 12 month period, working directly with staff from the centre to develop their own transitional programme to assist youth leaving their care.

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