Ethembeni was established by the Howick Community Church in November 2000 as a social outreach programme in the township of Mpophomeni, about 12kms outside the town Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Today, this outreach has developed into an independent, registered non-profit organisation with programmes aimed at caring for sick and vulnerable adults and children affected and infected by HIV & AIDS.
Ethembeni’s vision is to see families free from HIV, AIDS and TB.
Ethembeni’s mission statement is:
We exist to bring hope to families affected by HIV, AIDS and TB in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands by providing comprehensive and gender-specific care and prevention services.
Ethembeni has four specific programmes at present, a residential care centre, a family support programme, the Mpophomeni Family Centre working with vulnerable children and an HIV prevention programme in conjunction with the AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA).
Our family support project grew out of the initial home based care work started in 2000. Today, it provides a more holistic intervention incorporating not only home based care for the sick but also food security, income generation and psychosocial support. On average, we visit between 60 and 80 families a month totalling over 400 adults and children at any one time.
The residential care unit was acquired in 2002 and opened in November of that year after being completely renovated and equipped thanks to the support of some generous local donors. The centre is notable because it is community based, unlike most other institutions providing similar services in the area. Four people at any one time can be accommodated and average monthly occupancy rates sit above 90%.
Following the establishment of the residential care centre and the family support programme we developed an additional branch to our work looking at interventions aimed at vulnerable children within the community. This is done through a drop-in centre facility, known as the Mpophomeni Family Centre, capable of caring for 70 children a day.
In 2011, we successfully applied to partner with the AIDS Foundation of South Africa in the implementation of an HIV Prevention Programme in partnership with PEPFAR. Our goal within this project is to provide HIV counselling and testing (HCT) for “hard to reach” populations within the uMngeni Municipality. A mobile unit of HIV counsellors travels into rural communities delivering HCT services with the aim of educating over 2600 people on key HIV/AIDS issues and testing 1300 per year.