Hello from the Imbeleko Foundation team!

SANIBONANI from Team Imbeleko!

ICS ‘Team Imbeleko’ with Phindile, one of the staff from The Imbeleko Foundation. From left to right: Sphesihle, Catherine, Phindile, Steph (Team Leader), Innocentia, Leroy.

It’s hard to believe that we have now been in South Africa for over 2 weeks. Time really does fly! Orientation in Week 1 was absolutely jam-packed. We had the opportunity to meet new people and receive training on a number of topics including poverty, HIV/AIDS, child development and sexual and reproductive health.  We also found out what to expect on placement etc. as well as being given the chance to get used to the food (fish fingers for breakfast was very interesting).

It was really amazing to see 46 UK and South African volunteers, from different backgrounds coming together with a common purpose- to make a difference in our world!

Leaving orientation on the 17th April we knew a little more about the Imbeleko Foundation. However, the Imbeleko Foundation has never had an ICS team based there before so we didn’t have any handover notes from previous teams and didn’t quite know what to expect. It was an exciting prospect for our team getting to develop new projects with the NGO but we have to admit, we were nervous going into the unknown. There was no need to be anxious however, as on Saturday night we met the amazing Sbu who is the director of Imbeleko Foundation. Along with having a delicious meal, we had the opportunity to hear how passionate Sbu is about helping the children/young people in KwaNyuswa to fulfil their potential. We also met the Peace Corps volunteers Anna and Matt who are also based at the organisation.

The Imbeleko Foundation was founded by Sbu’s sister, Dr Seni Myeni who grew up in KwaNyuswa. Dr Seni grew up with great support from a community of women which inspired her to give back and mentor young girls. As a physician who lived with brain cancer for 3 years she began to understand the challenges faced by mothers who were diagnosed with terminal illnesses and the fears they faced about leaving their children behind, especially in poor rural communities. She then established the NGO with the purpose of giving hope to orphaned children. ‘Imbeleko’ is a Zulu word for a cloth that is used by African mothers to carry babies on their backs. Imbeleko provides warmth and allows them to hear their mother’s heartbeat when they lay their head against their mothers back. The Imbeleko Foundation aims to do just this – provide warmth, love and care to orphans.

During our 9 week placement we are all living with host families within the community of KwaNyuswa based in the absolutely beautiful, Valley of a Thousand Hills.


The past week has been filled with many firsts for our team.  It has been a challenge for us at times- experiencing water shortages, load shedding, new food and being away from home! We have however, received a very warm welcome from our Host Families, community and Churches which has helped us to settle in.

On the placement so far, we have been making plans for how we are going to fulfil our team vision:

To be a team who seek to empower the people we serve to realise their full potential in God, embracing their individuality. We will be positive role models who will strive to seek justice and teach key life skills in an authentic and loving way.

Over the past week we created a database to capture information on approximately 250 children and young people who will be part of the new Imbeleko Foundation education programme; this will consist of an after school programme for primary school pupils and a Saturday morning programme for secondary school pupils. The education programme will teach topics such as Maths, English, Science, Accounting and Life Skills (topics depend on the age of the pupils). The information is gathered through both school referrals and follow up home visits. Over the next couple of weeks we are taking on the challenging task of visiting over 200 family homes to record information on each child taking part in the programme… we better get our walking shoes ready!

walking to visits

The home visits take a holistic approach, assessing the socio-economic status of the household as well as, for example, the health of the child/young person, their interests/hobbies and their educational progress. The data gathered in the database may even be used by the organisation in the future to apply for donor funding; having evidenced the need for the education programme.

Over the next 8 week we will also be busy creating a holiday club resource. This will be used by the next team in the summer who will arrive just in time to run the holiday club. We are also looking to set up a Library in KwaNyuswa Primary School, with books donated to Imbeleko Foundation, and will be helping to begin preparations for a community end of year event.

THANK YOU for taking time to read about how we are getting on! Why not keep in touch by adding a comment. It would also be amazing if you could keep us and the project in your prayers over the coming weeks.

Keep an eye out for another update soon.

Catherine (and the rest of the Imbeleko Foundation team)



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