Vision, Mission & History
Philani’s vision is a South Africa where pregnancy is safe and where every child can grow up healthy and well-nourished to fulfil his or her physical and mental potential.
Philani is committed to providing a caring and supportive community-based service where mothers’ health is protected and they are empowered to raise healthy, well-nourished children.
Our approach to the many issues affecting maternal and child health is holistic and includes creating a stimulating environment for children to learn and play as well as providing skills development for income generation so that mothers may become economically independent.
The Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Trust has been addressing maternal, child health and nutrition problems in the informal settlements outside Cape Town since 1979. There are approximately a million people living in Philani’s target communities, the majority of whom have migrated from the Eastern Cape. Their homes are often simple core houses or informal dwellings made of corrugated iron, wood and plastic – many of which are overcrowded and without water or sanitation facilities.
Philani has offered clinic-based services to the women and children of these communities for almost 40 years. As part of our service Philani also supports income generating projects and provides early childhood education.
In the beginning of 2000 we realised that our clinic-based nutrition rehabilitation programme did not reach some of the worst cases of child malnutrition in Philani’s target communities. It was often the most destitute mothers who were lacking the means and energy to seek help. As a result, we extended our intervention from the confines of the clinics into the homes of mothers, resulting in what is today our flagship programme, the Mentor Mother Programme.
Mothers sometimes have difficulty recognising the symptoms of malnutrition and understanding the short and long-term consequences for affected children. The Mentor Mother Programme was initially established to reach those children at the greatest risk of not surviving but has grown organically over the years into a comprehensive, holistic primary health care intervention, proven to have a positive impact on the health of the families it serves.