HOKISA (Homes for Kids in South Africa) was founded in 2001 in Cape Town as a South African nonprofit NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) to contribute in the fight against AIDS by creating examples of care especially for those who are most vulnerable – the children.
It is the aim of HOKISA to empower members of poor communities where HIV/AIDS is most devastating. No money is spent for office buildings or costly administration. Donations go directly to the HOKISA Children’s Home and the care of the children. All childcare workers are residents in the same township community and have had the opportunity to grow and develop their skills.
We understand this as a concrete way to promote openness around HIV/AIDS, and to educate against the stigma and denial around the disease by setting examples of effective care and honest communication.
On December 1, 2002 (World AIDS Day) the first HOKISA Home was opened in the township of Masiphumelele, south of Cape Town, by Archbishop (em.) Desmond Tutu. This HOKISA Home was named by the community: HOKISA IKAYA LETHU – HOKISA OUR HOME.
How It Began
HOKISA was founded in March 2001 in Cape Town by Karin Chubb, then a South African senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, and Dr. Lutz van Dijk, a Dutch-German writer. The starting point was their common work in reporting on the youth hearings of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission (1996-98).
Realizing that HIV/AIDS was becoming a more and more devastating threat to the people of South Africa and the new democracy, both decided to dedicate the royalties of their books on human rights and HIV/AIDS to projects for children affected by this disease. Since then, Lutz van Dijk has written more books published in South Africa, all royalties going to the HOKISA project. His novel Crossing the Line (Themba) has been made into a major motion picture.
In the first year of its activities (2001-2002) HOKISA did research and tried to learn from other organisations active in this field. We supported five projects financially in the course of this year:
- A Group of HIV-positive mothers in Kayelitsha (Western Cape)
- The Emthonjeni Learning Project in Gugulethu (Western Cape)
- The Lizo Nobanda Day Care Centre of Nazareth House (Western Cape)
- Sparrow’s Nest – Rainbow Village in Johannesburg (Gauteng)
- HIV/AIDS awareness workshops (Western Cape and Gauteng)
In March 2002 the HOKISA board endorsed the decision of the directors to create a home for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS in one of the poorest communities in the Western Cape – the township of Masiphumelele, about 25 km south of Cape Town. The idea was to plan and build this home together with members of this community – and thus also to create jobs for at least some of them in the long run.
The First HOKISA Home
Already as early as February 2002 a HOKISA support group met regularly at the Day Care Clinic in Masiphumelele to decide on the character, design, building and finally personnel of the first HOKISA Home in South Africa. The Support Group was generally open to everyone from the community who wanted to contribute and could offer some experience and advice in the field of children, health care, education and/or HIV/AIDS awareness. Regular members were health care workers, teachers, nurses from the clinic, members of youth and women organisations and church groups. Sometimes also HOKISA board members took part in the meetings.
Statement by the HOKISA Support Group in Masiphumelele:
> “A possible future HOKISA Home shall not be an orphanage, but a home for those children affected by HIV/AIDS whose families are unable to care for them for a certain period of time. Efforts will be made continuously, to reunite the children with their (wider) families, to maintain family values and to encourage spiritual and emotional growth. While at a HOKISA Home, children will receive educational, nutritional and medical care as well as counselling where possible.”
This statement has become a guideline for our practical work: To do all in our effort to work against discrimination around HIV/AIDS and to support those caregivers who take responsibility for the children and speak out against stigma and denial of the disease.
From 2001, Karin Chubb and Dr Lutz van Dijk served as executive directors in a voluntary capacity for HOKISA. In 2009 they handed over the directorship and day to day management of the organisation to Robyn Cohen, but continued to be involved as board members, directors and ‘grandparents’. In 2015 Robyn stepped down as Executive Director, but continues to be involved in the lives of the children, and now voluntarily represents HOKISA as a Director and Chairperson of the Board. In 2011 we added the skills and experience of a Social Worker, Susan (Sue) Purvis, to our team – Susan brings essential expertise and knowledge to HOKISA. Our Team Leaders(Eunice Mbanjwa and Mandisa Mahlumba), have both been with HOKISA since the start and have grown into their positions. The home is now run by a combination of the Directors (Perry and Robyn – with input from Lutz and Karin) and the management team of Eunice, Mandisa and Sue. HOKISA has been assisted from the start by HOKISA board members/directors, who are experienced in human rights work, education, labour law and HR, accounting, healthcare and community development projects in South Africa. They supervise the activities of HOKISA independently as volunteers. The HOKISA bookkeeping is controlled by our Financial Director/board member on a voluntary basis.
Board of Directors: Marycke Roche, Perry Tsang, Lindiwe Mthembu-Salter,Khaya Sontsele
Founder Members: Karin Chubb, Dr. Lutz van Dijk
HOKISA Social Worker: Susan Purvis
HOKISA Childcare Workers: HOKISA has a dedicated team of childcare workers who are committed to providing love and care for the children. They are led by our 2 Team Leaders…
Eunice Mbanjwa (Team Leader and Childcare Worker):
> “I started to work as a childcare worker at HOKISA in 2003 and I enjoy working at HOKISA. The reason why I like my work is because I am working with kids. I have some skills and I am busy with an Early Childhood Development course now. I also attended an HIV and AIDS management course for a week in 2009 and a first aid course. I am also supervising the medicines at HOKISA.”
Mandisa Mahlumba (Team Leader and Childcare Worker):
> “I am a childcare worker here at HOKISA and I started from the beginning when HOKISA first opened. I am doing stock taking for the house and I monitor medication and school transport for the children. I enjoy working at HOKISA and also working with children. I’m happy to work at HOKISA because I am learning new skills.”
Simphiwe Nkomombini (Youth Leader and Childcare Worker):
> “I started working for HOKISA on 18 November 2002 and I live in Masiphumelele. I enjoy working for my community and especially with the kids and the youth. HOKISA has been a wonderful example to me and to the youth of this community in taking care of the people affected by HIV. I am also the youth group leader in our community and what we are trying to achieve is to fight stigma and ignorance and we try to promote openness in dealing with HIV and Aids.”
Nosipho (Onwaba) Ntutyu (Childcare Worker):
> “I started to work at HOKISA on the 15th November 2002 as a childcare worker. I enjoy working at HOKISA and I love to work with children. HOKISA is giving to us skills, e.g. computer, first aid and I am now busy with an Early Childhood Development course.”
Nobanzi Somtsewu (Childcare Worker and Driver):
> “I was born in Butterworth and I am 27 years old. I started working at HOKISA in 2005 and I am a Child Care Worker and also a driver. I like the children so much. Since I have worked at HOKISA I have learnt a lot of new things, especially about HIV and AIDS. HOKISA has also helped me a lot because I have done a lot of courses to improve my knowledge and my skills – in 2014 I completed an Early Childhood Development course in Fish Hoek. HOKISA is everything to me.”
Philip Rihlampfu (Childcare Worker and Driver):
> Philip joined the HOKISA team late in 2013. It is great to have another Bhuti on the team, and another driver… Philip has bonded with the children and has learnt a lot about HIV and AIDS. The children love going on outings with Philip and Philip shares lots of his pictures of these good times on our HOKISA Facebook page.
Nosisi Vena (Childcare Worker and Driver):
> Nosisi joined the team in 2015 and she adds to the love and warmth that our Mama’s bring to our homes. Nosisi has won the hearts of our children, and the little ones love singing songs and listening to stories with her in the garden.
Fezeka Peter (Childcare worker):
> Fezeka is the newest member of our HOKISA family, who joined us in December 2015. Fezeka is loving and caring to all of our children and she brings with her, excellent cooking and crafting skills, as well as patience and initiative.