Philani Child Health & Nutrition Project
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"Unemployment creates powerlessness and dependency in women and makes children vulnerable to malnutrition and illnesses"

Although Philani started out as a child health and nutrition project, the organization soon realized that the health and nutrition problems local communities faced had underlying socio-economic causes due to lack of development opportunities for men and women during and after Apartheid. Development starts with people and apartheid left millions of women and men in South Africa without an opportunity to access formal education and training.

Identifying a problem

Half of the adult population in Philani's target communities are unemployed, 70 per cent of women older than 18 years have no income, and 60 per cent of women attending the Philani Centres are single (Khayelitsha survey 1994, UNICEF). Lack of education, training, and employment creates powerlessness and dependency in women and makes children vulnerable to malnutrition and illnesses. Philani has tried to redress this by focusing on creating and offering education and training opportunities to mothers.

How the programme works

Philani's development programme trains women in weaving, silk-screen printing, beading, linoleum printing and fresco painting in five Nutrition Centres and at the Philani Development Centre in Site C, Khayelitsha. The women participating in these training programmes are mothers enrolled on Philani’s Outreach and Nutrition Programmes, women referred from community organisations, and mothers with social problems and children at risk.

Philani is committed to making venues and services available to women who have completed the Skills Training Programmes to make it possible for them to earn a living from their craft. Seventy-five per cent of income generated through sales at the shop, orders and commissions, are paid to the mothers producing the crafts while 25 per cent is retained to cover materials, transport, marketing and other costs.

The programme offers support and a way out of extreme poverty for mothers, and combined with the work of Philani’s health programmes, helps to improve the lives of thousands of vulnerable women and children.

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