Philani Child Health & Nutrition Project
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Mentor Mother Programme at Zithulele

Philani has long been interested in expanding the Home Based Nutrition Rehabilitation and Mother-to-Be Programmes into the rural areas of the Eastern Cape where child malnutrition and ill health are rife and the need for programmes like these, great. With the partnership that has been fostered with UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles, USA), this has now become a reality and as of January 2010, an Outreach Programme has been started, based at Zithulele Hospital in the Eastern Cape.

In this programme, Mentor Mothers will identify pregnant mothers in the community and invite them to participate in an intervention program where nutrition and health advice is given, breastfeeding and childcare issues are discussed and pregnant mothers are encouraged to attend antenatal clinics and test for HIV. Once their children are born, they are supported during the first crucial weeks of life and the plan is to follow up the children for 2-3 years at different intervals, depending on the family’s needs.

Mentor Mothers have been recruited and are undergoing training under the capable leadership of Kate Sherry who has worked in this area for a number of years and is familiar with the communities. The hope is that the intervention program will result in improved birth outcomes, fewer low birthweight babies and healthier well-nourished children with better futures in these communities.

American Artists Volunteer at Philani

During the first three weeks of February 2010, Philani mothers attended art workshops led by two American artists from Princeton, New Jersey Joan Needham and Hetty Baiz. This ongoing partnership with program coordinator Kate Somers, a curator at Princeton University, began in 2007 with a workshop on linoleum printing. Joan this year built on what she taught the women in 2007 by introducing colour into the linoleum printing and inspired and motivated her group of mothers through her skill and energy to create beautiful prints both on paper and material now on sale in the shop.

Artist Hetty Baiz, a practicing mixed media artist, taught a novice group of Philani mothers a new craft – that of creating fresco tiles. The mothers were taught two forms of fresco art: pattern and free-form. Pattern designs were inspired by a variety of traditional African designs, Xhosa beadwork and motifs on African painted houses from various regions throughout Southern Africa. The free form fresco pieces not only described life in the townships, but also the hope, joy and beauty each mother sees for herself and for the future of the country. Thandie, a twenty-five year-old mother and sole breadwinner for her family of four, stated that “my finished products make me very proud because I didn’t know I could do something like this.”

The fresco tiles and lino prints created during the workshops are now hanging in the Lizo Nobanda Tuberculosis Care Center in Khayelitsha. The mothers continue to produce beautiful frescos and lino prints under the guidance of a young South African artist Igshaan Adams. These are for sale in the shop as well.

The parishioners of Our Lady Star of The Sea, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England raise funds for Philani

In 2009, Mrs. Yvonne Steadman and her husband visited Philani during their trip to South Africa and were so moved by what they saw in Khayelitsha and what they discovered about Philani’s work in the informal settlements of Cape Town, that they returned to England, determined to do something about it. Mrs. Steadman, using photos she had taken, created a display to show the work that Philani does to the parishioners of Our Lady Star of The Sea, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England. They were impressed and agreed, as a project for their centenary year, to raise funds for Philani’s work in thanksgiving for their 100 years as a parish.

The fundraising culminated in a wonderful Christmas bazaar (see photos below) put on by the parishioners and attended by the residents of Ellesmere Port where lots of fun was had by all!

In February of 2010, the Steadmans returned to South Africa and came to Philani to personally present a cheque of £3,700, all raised by the parishioners!

We at Philani are deeply grateful to the Steadmans and the parishioners of Our Lady Star of The Sea for all the effort they went to to raise funds for Philani and for keeping us in their hearts during their centenary year.

Australian Church Members Knit for Philani

In March of 2010, Philani received a visit from Alex and Walter Skilton from Australia, bearing bags and bags of wonderful knitted vests, hats and booties, perfect for our new born low birthweight children. They had visited Philani in 2009 and felt strongly that they would like to help in some way. When they returned to Australia, they created a display about Philani to present to the members of their church. Because of the financial recession being experienced in their country, they did not feel they could ask people for money, so instead suggested that members knit baby clothes for our new borns. It was these wonderful and colourful items that they brought, as well as cash donations that members of their church had made.


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