Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund – Changing the way society treats its children and youth

Today marks hundred years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, and to honour and celebrate his legacy, my #NGOs4Africa Campaign profile of the day focuses on the work of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Driven by his love for children and a desire to end their suffering, former President Nelson Mandela established the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) in 1995. It has evolved over the past 22 years from a grant-making entity to a fully fledged development agency advocating for the rights of children. The vision of the Fund is to change the way society treats its children and the youth.

The Fund’s primary target groups are children and the youth from birth to 22 years of age, who come from impoverished backgrounds. In pursuit of its vision, and to ensure that the legacy of its Founder is secured in perpetuity, the Fund focuses on the following priorities:

  • Develop partnerships and initiate programmes which empower and improve the well-being of children and the youth;
  • Promote the rights of children and the youth through input to public policy and social awareness;
  • Sustain these initiatives through the development of a sound financial support base;
  • Give voice and dignity to the African child through a child rights-based movement.

The Fund has already achieved significant success in support of its vision and priorities through the implementation of its four main programmes.

Child Survival and Development (First 1000 Days of a Child’s Life) – focuses on the reduction in child mortality, access to health care, and responsive care systems for under 5s. The Fund has increased awareness and knowledge of the first 1000 days’ programme through dialogue and door-to-door campaigns. To date, it has reached 30 villages in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape, and educated 250 families on the services available for the first two years of a child’s life and the importance of access to quality nutrition and health services. It has already registered 300 children as beneficiaries of the programme.

Child Safety and Protection (Safe Schools) – focuses on the prevention of sexual violence and bullying, conviction of perpetrators, and the creation of safe spaces. The Fund has worked with a total of 22 implementing partners, reaching approximately 100 schools and 8 000 beneficiaries on farms, and in rural and urban areas, across KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. In Gauteng, in partnership with ADAPT, the Fund has developed a programme that builds positive behaviour among learners and educators who are survivors or perpetrators of bullying and violence in the school and community.

Sustainable Livelihoods Project (SLP) – helps poor communities to work their way out of poverty and supports self-help groups (SHGs) to establish income-generating activities. It has already reached 3 346 families, and through the efforts of the SHGs, achieved cumulative savings of R5.1 million. A ripple effect of this achievement is that families who participated in the programme were able to support 15 young people from KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga to attain a tertiary education and graduate in areas of education, social work, engineering, and nursing.

Youth Leadership (Youth Think Tanks) – focuses on the many challenges that young people are confronted with throughout South Africa. In partnership with the Department of Tourism, the Fund hosted the Youth Summit from 9-13 July 2018 in Cape Town under the theme, “A Mandela in Every Generation”.

The Fund’s strategic partnerships with Deloitte, Partners for Possibilities, and Girls and Boys Town, contributed to the launch of the State of the South African Child Initiative (SOSTAC). It aims to disseminate information, provide guidance on priorities, and determine approaches to a collective and coordinated response to effect change across the South African landscape.

There is a lack of paediatric facilities throughout Africa, in particular, specialised centres to serve a population of nearly 450 million children. In 2005, the Fund approved an initiative to create a dedicated tertiary and quaternary referral and academic hospital to serve the health needs of the children of Southern Africa, irrespective of socio-economic status. Construction started on 22 April 2014, and the official launch of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, the flagship project of the Fund, was held on 2 December 2016. The first patient was admitted on 27 June 2017.

In terms of challenges facing the Fund, fundraising is at the core of its sustainability and has been identified as a major risk. In recent years, the Fund has seen a huge decline in designated programme funding, mainly due to donor fatigue coupled with a challenging economic environment. The donor environment in South Africa has been shifting (including skepticism about South Africa) which has led to changing values of funds being available. This situation calls for a rethinking of fundraising models, with a focus on strategic partnerships and development of innovative fundraising solutions.

Click here to make a donation to the Fund.

Contact details:

Tel: +27 11 274 5600
Fax: +27 11 486 3914
Twitter: @NMCF_SA
Facebook: @NMChildrensFund
Instagram: nmcf_sa
YouTube: Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund

This is the tenth NGO profile of #NGOs4Africa Campaign.

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