Imagine being 15 years old and knowing the likelihood of living to the age of 60 is less than 50% because of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in your country. Without the necessary resources and sustainable solutions to escape such odds your fate may set in stone.
Angela Larkan learned about the dire circumstances of orphans in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa while researching for her thesis in 2003. Her findings and determination to fight the destructive impact that HIV/AIDS and poverty have upon rural areas of South Africa led her home to create Thanda and Thanda After-School.
Thanda’s approach to fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS is to work with existing resources, traditions, and structures to ensure that the solutions formulated are realistic and lasting. A key goal is to empower people to become problem solvers within their own community.
Thanda After-School in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa uses local school buildings to create a place where children can learn, have fun and receive the support they need to become leaders. There are 325 children, aged 5-22, enrolled in year long after school programs such as agriculture, construction, art, computers, and sports. The programs focus on poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship, health and nutrition information, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment referral. Through the programs children gain skills that enable them to succeed personally as well as professionally. Each day all of the children receive a nutritious meal and assistance with their home work.
An outcropping of Thanda is Thanda Zulu which is a socially responsible company that imports items from income producing art projects in Africa and donates the proceeds to the Thanda After-School project. Bracelets, earrings, fabric, and artwork are just a few items that generate income that benefits orphans of AIDS and other vulnerable children in rural South Africa.
Thanda’s efforts are remarkable and they will ripple throughout the African communities.