CATCH Founder and current Director came into contact with children living in the informal settlement of Mzamomhle in Gonubie, East London. Sue later learned that thousands of families living in this area were severely impacted by poverty, violence and AIDS. A club for poor and vulnerable children ages 6 – 14 years was started in a church hall and operated there for 4 years until it was moved to the school in the community. Attendance quickly escalated to over 100 children every Saturday
A sewing project for young unemployed women was started in a warehouse in Gonubie
A support group for 15 HIV positive moms and babies was started in the same premises. This was the year the current Director took early retirement from her job at Mercedes Benz South Africa in order to register CATCH as a Non Profit Organisation and to offer further services to the children and families of Mzamomhle.
Mercedes Benz of South Africa together with a UK donor, Mzamomhle AIDS Trust, purchased a small holding farm near the community for CATCH. The nearly 4 hectares of land are fully owned by CATCH. The acquisition of this property and the financial support of our abovementioned donors together with funds from the National Lottery enabled CATCH to expand the reach of its services.
CATCH was instrumental in bringing NGOs with expertise to work in the community. These organisations were Cotlands, St Bernards Hospice and Hope Worldwide.
Relationships with community leaders, schools, clinics, police were nurtured.
CATCH provided 8 afternoon recreational and educational clubs for 400 children in an effort to divert them away from destructive and build physical and emotional resilience.
A Peer Educators’ Program was started beginning with 30 teenagers. The number thereafter grew to 100 teens visiting CATCH weekly
Oxfam Australia became a donor partner supporting CATCH financially and mentoring our team for the next 9 years until 2016 when Oxfam International was reorganised and this much beloved partner had to withdraw their services from South Africa
An important partnership was formed with Sophumelela Clinic. At this time there was no government distribution of ARVs to people with AIDS. CATCH invited Sophumelela to share our premises in order to serve 100 residents of Mzamomhle. These received free ARV medication, monitoring and hospice services if needed. Sophumelela gave their excellent service to the community until government medical services became available and USAID funds were diverted elsewhere.
. 2008 the first CATCH Community Action Forum began with 60 women meeting monthly to discuss challenges faced by residents of Mzamomhle and planning action to meet these.
CATCH built a home for orphaned and abandoned children on it property. This home called by the children “Ekhaya Lihle” now houses 6 orphaned girls with their housemother. The home is supported by the Kicoba Foundation in the Netherlands.
CATCH provided a morning school rehabilitation program for poor and vulnerable children who had dropped out of school. The school was funded by Breadline Africa. CATCH was able to place 20 children back into school during the 3 years in which the program ran.
It proved an expensive program and although very much needed not financially sustainable.
A further Community Action Forum called “Siyakhula” was started with 30 former beneficiaries who became active volunteers in the community.
The DG Murray Trust sponsored a program called “Circles”. The CATCH team would like you to read about this under the heading of “Success Story”. We share this success story because one day we would like to repeat it. It was hard work and emotionally challenging.
Because of the lack of places of care and safety for children in need, CATCH initiated an Assisted Living Program for orphans. The CATCH principle is that children should where at all possible be placed in extended families when orphaned or abandoned. However many children have no family able to care for them. Social workers have difficulty in finding placements. CATCH found 15 suitable homes in the community where a caregiver was able to receive a vulnerable child. The homes were vetted by the statutory social work agency CMR and approved. The CATCH welfare worker monitored the placement and provision for the child. Our partner donor Kinderfonds Mamas in the Netherlands sponsors the care of these children. All the children have now been legally fostered by their caregivers. CATCH continues to provide support to these caregivers and children.
A new initiative to find more homes and place children in need of nurture and care will begin in 2017.
CATCH received funding from the government Department of Social Development to implement a Survivor Empowerment Program. The 2 CATCH social workers provide counselling and support for survivors of crimes. These crimes include domestic violence, sexual assault, and hate crimes. The social workers are sited at CATCH and at the local police station and accompany survivors to clinics and the court. The service is provided for the residents of Mzamomhle as well as people living in the wider Gonubie area.