Refilwe is a community development initiative based in Lanseria, Johannesburg. Refilwe's mission is to help children and adults to become sustainable: spiritually, mentally and physically, and to break the cycle of poverty in all these areas so that they can develop into contributing members of their community and society. Founded in 1991, initially as a health care clinic, Refilwe have since developed a strong focus on child care, community development and skills upliftment through education and mentorship. All individuals at Refilwe are encouraged to improve themselves, ensuring a better future for themselves and their families.
The God Parent Program
This uses a family-based foster care model to provide safe and stable home environments for 30 orphaned and vulnerable children. The children are placed with foster parents within a loving family unit called a God Parent family and there are 10 families living at Refilwe.
El Roi Baby Home
This opened in October 2012 in response to the overwhelming need for a safe place for abandoned and orphaned babies. On average 200 babies are abandoned in Refilwe’s district each month. The majority of those babies are left in dangerous or hidden places so Refilwe installed a Baby Safe in 2014. It is a place of anonymous abandonment where a mother can abandon her baby in a safe place where it will be cared for and a “Forever Family” will be found through adoption. El Roi has the potential to give 28 babies a home, so far 22 have been cared for and 12 have found their Forever Family.
Early Childhood Development Centre
Refilwe’s passion for children brought them to the point where they felt it was vital to offer the children of the surrounding communities not just a safe haven but also a place of quality education. The Refilwe Pre School started with 5 children in a small room in a house on the site. It has now grown into a four classroom school with 83 children in total. They offer them 3 meals a day in an attempt to ensure they are getting a nutritious meal at least twice a day. The classes are conducted in English and they do their best to ensure they get the very best education using the resources available.
Ithuteng Recycle Project
July 2014 marked the launch of the Ithuteng Community After Care Centre and Recycle Project, which offers structured educational support to over 90 children who live in the nearby Joe Slovo Informal Settlement. At Refilwe they believe in providing a hand up rather than a hand out. The new after care centre teaches children about responsibility and the environment, as they must collect and bring recyclable material to be part of the programme. In addition, the children receive ‘Refilwe Mulas’ for their recyclable materials and they can then exchange them for stationery, personal care items and basic food stuffs.
Skills Development Programme
Refilwe teach and train people in the local community giving them practical and business skills in many ways. They are trained in horticulture in the onsite nursery, there is a worm farm producing vermicast fertilizer that is sold to local businesses, a fruit orchard from which jam is produced and sold, the large kitchen that provides meals for pre-school, holiday club and kids club will be used for teaching catering skills, there are sewing and carpentry programmes producing gifts for sale and day care centre teachers from local informal settlements are being trained so their centre can reach the government requirements and better prepare the children for school.
Calday’s Connection with Refilwe
Every year Calday Grange Grammar School takes sixth form students to Refilwe in Johannesburg, South Africa and has been doing so since 2006. We take out donations, the school raises money that goes directly to the charity, we do manual labour tasks whilst there, helping with the maintenance of the site and we tutor local children in English and Maths. We have regular fund raising events during the year that have included Quiz Nights, Three Peaks Challenge, the Wirral Coastal Walk, 24 Hour Football Matches, Cake Sales and Bag Packs. Every year we give approximately £8000 to the charity and they spend the money where they need it.
For the last two years we helped pay for a social worker to work full time at Refilwe and she has been a valuable asset to the community. We have also enabled a six year old disbabled boy to go to school by paying his school fees. Without our help he would have no education at all.
Calday’s loyalty to Refilwe is of great importance to Refilwe community, not only because the money we raise goes to where it is desperately needed, but also because of the relationships our students have forged with the Refilwe children and those in the local township, Joe Slovo. Many Calday students have been so touched by their experience, they have made the journey back to Johannesburg to volunteer independently.
More information about Refilwe can be found on their website here www.refilwe.org