Living Hope has a saying: “It’s better to build a whole child than mend a broken man.” This truth is at the heart of our Family Strengthening Programme. We have found that the best way to care for vulnerable children is to intervene at the earliest possible stage of their lives; in the womb!

Our Family Strengthening Programme reaches out to children and their families in order to build the capacity of families to better provide and care for each other. Using the family strengthening approach is a proven way to prevent many social ills, improve family relationships, teach parenting skills, and grow a family’s overall life skills and resilience. Our team are working to build a solid foundation for the whole of that child’s life. What might seem a straight path to a successful future, is in reality, an incredibly difficult journey when faced with unplanned pregnancy, poor housing and sanitation, unemployment, health challenges, food insecurity, gangsterism, substance abuse and Gender Based Violence. These are the circumstances that our families are facing everyday in their jobs, schools and communities where they live. 

The Family Strengthening Programme responds as a need arises and are able to work with many of our local networking partners, ensuring that each family gets what they need to thrive. Something as small as a backpack filled and ready with school supplies means a greater chance of educational success for a young child starting school. Or perhaps it’s the provision of basic hygiene supplies, such as feminine hygiene products that keeps a girl child in school until she graduates! Through the local hospital, our team are able to counsel mothers through unplanned pregnancy and prepare them with pre-natal education and support, often dealing with mental health issues as well. It’s very difficult to get anywhere in life without a birth certificate or identity document – to obtain these important documents our social worker guides people in following the process.

One of the issues that we are needing to adapt to and focus on is the great need for an ongoing response to Gender Based Violence. During the various lockdown levels of COVID-19, the rate of domestic violence has increased dramatically in South Africa and our women and children have been heavily impacted by this crippling situation.

Next week in South Africa is designated as Child Protection Week, and our team will be running educational workshops in our area in regards to Gender Based Violence. We are trusting that this programme will grow exponentially over the next year, allowing Living Hope to reach more people with the message that there is Hope in the face of Gender Based Violence and that prevention is possible!

Here are some photos from our Family Strengthening team in action:  

Our incredible team of Living Hope Book Sharing Facilitators! This group of men and women are now employed by Living Hope to train other parents in how to share books with their children, even if both the parent and child cannot yet read. This “dialogic” method teaches parents to actively engage with their 3-6 year olds through “narrating” a story from simple picture books. These early educational interventions have been proven to help strengthen the bond between children and parents, improve early literacy, as well as strengthen emotional and cognitive skills.  We are so excited about this intervention and the multiplying effect it will have on the families involved, as each facilitator will be training groups of 10 parents at a time. Can you imagine the positive effect of these trainings throughout our communities?

Training! Training! Training! It takes much learning and un-learning to create a programme that will bring about awareness on the issue of Gender Based Violence and its impact on children and families. 

It’s not only the big fires that Living Hope respond to, but rather Living Hope responds to many emergencies or disasters throughout the year. The Family Strengthening department oversees these responses, including receiving, sorting and distributing donations for disaster victims. 

Team Building! As Family Strengthening team seeks to reach out to others they must also learn to rely on each other and hold to the Living Hope mission and vision, to Bring Hope and Break Despair in the various traumatic situations our team face each day.

As we seek to reach more families with the message of resiliency and hope through the growing Family Strengthening Programme, we would sincerely appreciate whatever you can give towards this rapidly growing ministry. We really do need a lot more funding for Family Strengthening. You can help build resilient families by giving generously. We ideally need people who can give monthly, no matter the amount. Now is the time to do it.  Please do click the blue button below to donate securely via our website or see our banking details below.  

Thank you so much for your continued support, 

John V. Thomas
Executive Director Living Hope