Ikamva Labantu Founder awarded highest French distinction

On Wednesday 19 April, our Founder Helen Lieberman, was awarded the highest French distinction: “Officier de la Légion d’Honneur” (National Order of the Legion of Honour). The award is given to recipients as an acknowledgement of their dedication and role they have assumed in their respective fields.

French ambassador Christophe Farnaud presented the award to Helen “in recognition of her lifelong commitment to the eradication of poverty, injustice and human misery”.

Retracing her journey, Ambassador Farnaud acknowledged the roots of Ikamva Labantu, and the role that Helen played in bringing community leaders together.

In 1963, Helen was working as a Speech Therapist at Groote Schuur hospital. After seeing a young patient discharged prematurely, she sought to track him down in Langa township. It was here that she first witnessed the brutality of the Apartheid regime.

“Appalled at this unfair situation, you [Helen] decided to work hand in hand with the residents of the townships… [Helen] never yielded under pressure, under the strain imposed by the Apartheid police forces” and “worked with ever more determination to move towards her vision of a fairer South Africa”.

Ambassador Farnaud also recognised the various projects that Ikamva Labantu has established over the years and commended the many men and women who have worked alongside Helen to make Ikamva Labantu what it is today, 50 of whom stood by her side at the ceremony on Wednesday night.

“By establishing community-based structures, you [Helen] empower those you work with, from skills training to work placements, and from early childhood development to book reading clubs for the elderly.”

On receiving the award, Helen said that she was “overwhelmed and very humbled” and that it was: “an affirmation of the combined activities of community leaders, devoted staff and their staunch supporters… Our people on the ground have been the backbone and builders of our nation – they have built our past and will secure our future. Let’s hear them, listen to them, affirm them and salute them.”

Helen dedicated the award to the community leaders and co-founders of Ikamva Labantu that she has worked with over the past 54 years and continues to work with today.

Ambassador Farnaud also announced a donation of R115,000 to Ikamva Labantu on behalf of the French embassy, which will support two senior clubs.

Nursing Surgery in Khayelitsha

Need medical attention? Feeling sick? Visit our new Nursing Surgery in H Section Khayelitsha.

  • Family planning
  • Women’s health
  • Treatment of sick children and adults
  • Treatment of STIs
  • Dressings
  • Removal of sutures
  • Blood pressure and glucose checks
  • HIV tests
  • Check-ups
  • More

R20-R200 including medication. Walk-ins & bookings welcome.

No long queues.

Monday-Friday: 8:30am-4:30pm

Call: 084 036 2596

Enkululekweni Wellness Centre
Corner Lubelwana St and Mateta St
H-Section
Khayelitsha
7784

Khayelitsha couple turn dream preschool into reality

In a tiny kitchen, in the middle of a sprawling informal settlement in Khayelitsha, Ntomboxolo Bikitsha is preparing lunch for 60 preschool children.

As a mother of seven, Ntomboxolo is only too familiar with the demands of childcare and the struggles of raising a family in one of Cape Town’s largest townships. In her own neighbourhood, she has seen children left at home alone without food during the day. She knows teenage mothers who have struggled between caring for their babies and staying in school, and she has seen young children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Established in 2009, Njongo Yethu Educare cares for 60 children. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

Nine years ago, Ntomboxolo decided that she had seen enough. ‘I wanted to provide a place of safety for vulnerable children in my community,’ she says.

Still working her day job, she asked her church for assistance in setting up the project – but with little support from others, Ntomboxolo eventually resigned from her job in 2008 to work on her vision for establishing her own preschool.

In January the following year, she opened the doors of Njongo Yethu Educare to 60 children.

Mama Bikitsha resigned from her job in 2008 to focus on establishing Njongo Yethu Educare. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

Preschoolers at Njongo Yethu play in a makeshift playground during a break. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

Housed in an informal shack structure, the preschool cares for children up to the age of 6, each paying a monthly fee to attend.

Today, Ntomboxolo has four practitioners working with her at Njongo Yethu. In one corner, a practitioner leads a group of children in song; in another, a crying girl is consoled after she pokes herself in the eye. Down a narrow passageway, the smallest children take their midday nap.

One of the four practitioners at Njongo Yethu sings a song with a group of children. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

A preschool girl proudly wears her uniform. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

One of the four practitioners is Wiseman Bikitsha, Ntomboxolo’s husband. ‘There’s nothing I love more than children,’ he says, grinning. Despite mocking comments from other men in his community, Wiseman has always shared childcare responsibilities with his wife – a rarity in South Africa where gender norms are still deeply entrenched and almost 46% of black African children live only with their mothers.

Wiseman Bikitsha feeds a young child during lunch time at Njongo Yethu. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

A practitioner consoles a young girl. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

At 45 and 68 years old respectively, Ntomboxolo and Wiseman don’t hesitate to kneel beside the youngest babies at the preschool to keep them entertained between activities. And even past his retirement age, Wiseman’s energy is contagious – as he helps the children wash their hands before lunch, they clearly compete for his attention and beaming smile.

Wiseman Bikitsha helps children to wash their hands before a meal. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

The couple has always wanted to work with children and although there have been challenges along the way, Wiseman says his Christian faith has helped him persevere and support his wife in making her dream a reality.

There are challenges for the future, too. Ntomboxolo has hopes for a brick structure, flushing toilets and higher salaries for her staff.

Wiseman Bikitsha hands out plastic spoons to each child before they say a prayer together and eat their lunch. ©Sydelle Willow Smith

But as the children take their seats for lunch, it is evident that the couple is proud to be able to provide a space for these children to learn, grow and play, safe from the troubles of the outside world.


Ntomboxolo and Wiseman Bikitsha have enrolled in the ten-month Ikamva Labantu Persona Doll training programme this year.

Ntomboxolo is taking part in the Principals’ training which focuses on leadership and business skills; Wiseman is taking part in the Practitioners’ training for 0-18-month-olds in order to develop practical skills for dealing with children and parents on a daily basis.

Ikamva Labantu launches first NGO-owned Nursing Surgery Unit

On 9 March, after two years of planning and preparation, we were thrilled to launch our brand new Nursing Surgery unit at our Enkululekweni Wellness Centre in Khayelitsha.

The brand new facility delivers affordable, quality healthcare services to members of the public and helps to alleviate the pressure that clinics and day hospitals in the surrounding area face on a daily basis.

The exterior of the Ikamva Labantu Nursing Surgery unit 

The exterior of the Nursing Surgery unit 

Designed and developed by the Cipla Foundation, the unit is part of the Sha’p Left initiative, which is supported by the Western Cape Department of Health.

Sha’p Left stores are typically individually owned – Ikamva Labantu is the first NGO to purchase such a unit as a sustainable source of income for the organisation, whilst offering an affordable healthcare service to the community.

Our Director, Ananda Nel, says: ‘This project and partnership with the Cipla Foundation has been two years in the making. Today is a dream come true.’

Ananda Nel, Director of Ikamva Labantu; Helen Lieberman, Founder and Honourary President of Ikamva Labantu; David Grier, Managing Trustee of the Cipla Foundation SA; Mzanywa Ndibongo, Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Health Forum at the launch of the nursing surgery unit.

Ananda Nel, Director of Ikamva Labantu; Helen Lieberman, Founder and Honourary President of Ikamva Labantu; David Grier, Managing Trustee of the Cipla Foundation SA; Mzanywa Ndibongo, Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Health Forum at the launch of the unit.

The secure, custom-made unit is fully equipped with storage space, a radio and air conditioning. The unit includes a nurse’s surgery, a reception area and a medical spaza shop, where the public can access over-the-counter medications and personal healthcare products. The medical spaza shop will be rolled out as a second phase of the project.

“This has been a special journey,” says David Grier, Managing Trustee of the Cipla Foundation SA. “No NGO, no corporate, no individual and no government can solve a country’s problems on their own. The most important person in the contingent is the patient; it’s about getting the best possible service to the patient at the end.”

Ikamva Labantu Clinical Nurse Practioner and receptionist at Nursing Surgery facility.

Our new Clinical Nurse Practioner, Nobahle Madolo, with Naledi, our receptionist at the brand new Nursing Surgery.

We have employed a full-time Clinical Nurse Practitioner, Nobahle Madolo, who will provide primary healthcare services and dispense medication to patients at the facility, as well as a receptionist to manage the facility.

The Nursing Surgery is an affordable alternative for members of the public who will be able to access the services from R20 – R200, including prescription medication. In comparison, a doctor’s visit in Khayelitsha can cost up to R350, excluding medication costs. Patients may also make appointments, thus shortening the time that they would normally spend waiting at a clinic.

Any profit from the project will cover the overheads thereof and the rest will be put back into our Health Services, which support our three primary programmes: Early Childhood Development, Child and Youth Enrichment and Seniors.

The reception area of the Ikamva Labantu Nursing Surgery facility

The reception area of the Nursing Surgery facility

The unit was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. “Thanks to our funders, we were able to make this project a reality,” says Founder and Honourary President of Ikamva Labantu, Helen Lieberman. “This is something that the community deserves. We are very under-resourced in our township communities; this is a tiny drop in a community but we hope to be able expand on this so as to continue reaching more people. Healthy people make a healthy nation.”

Ikamva Labantu’s Aromatherapist, Lulama Sikweza, who lost her sight to German measles at the age of six is excited about the launch of our very own nursing surgery unit. She will no longer have to depends on others to accompany her to health institutions.

Lulama Sikweza, fondly known as Lulu, started working for Ikamva Labantu as the switchboard operator 20 years ago. She was later trained as an aromatherapist. The mother of two renders her services to our 19 Senior Clubs and staff.

“This is not only about the about the beauty of the structure to me which everybody is talking about. For the first time I’ll have privacy, I will be able to do things on my own with the nurse without a third person,” says Lulu.

Available services at the surgery include family planning, women’s health, HIV tests, wound care, check-ups and more.

Kwakhanya wins SA ECD Award

This week, we won the National SA ECD Award for ‘Best ECD Centre of the Year’ in the Informal category.

This award affirms Kwakhanya as a best-practice model, serving as a space for principals and practitioners from surrounding community pre-schools to gain practical experience through our respective training programmes. At the same time, Kwakhanya provides 70 children with a solid foundation for learning, in a safe and nurturing environment.

Helping Seniors to see again

Nomntu Twala’s eye problems began last year when her vision became cloudy and she started to get headaches. It was soon clear that the 77-year-old had developed cataracts.

Cataracts are the primary cause of blindness and impaired vision worldwide, affecting around 20 million people. But they can often be treated with a straightforward surgery.

Luckily, Mama Twala was one of seven Ikamva Labantu seniors chosen to undergo a life-changing cataract reversal surgery, as part of Eye Awareness Month, this past October.

“I can feel the difference already,’’ Mama Twala said, just days after the surgery, adding that she no longer bumps into things.

“I feel free and happy to see again.”

Fuel2Grow Battle of Wits

On Saturday, 19 November, we turned the V & A Waterfront amphitheatre into a quiz show battleground for the #Fuel2Grow Battle of Wits.

Teams of schoolchildren from SACS Junior School, The Grove Primary School, Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School and Ikamva Labantu programmes went head-to-head against celebrity adult teams in a nail-biting and hilarious battle of wits.

Hosted by Katlego Maboe, the Battle of Wits was an initiative of the #Fuel2Grow campaign, which aims to reach R1.5m by the end of December.

We were joined by Danilo Acquisto, Africa Melane, Dr. Michael Mol and Zolani Mahola, who all took part in the quiz. Freshlyground, partners of the #Fuel2Grow campaign, also supported the cause, treating the crowd to an energetic performance to end off the day.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated in and supported the #Fuel2Grow Battle of Wits. We had a fantastic day, filled with smiles and laughter.

Of course, the kids came out on top and put all the adults to shame with their general knowledge!

With your help, we raised a brilliant R64,667.75 – bringing our total amount raised so far to R230,145.34!

This money will help provide holistic support to schoolchildren in Cape Town’s townships.

Grandparent Giftathon 2016

We’re teaming up once again with Grandparent Giftathon to collect festive season gifts for our seniors and other vulnerable elderly citizens. This year, we’re aiming to collect 2,500 gifts!

Here’s how you can take part:

  • Gifts can be dropped off at any of our drop-off points (see list below in comments). For cash donations, a team of volunteers will purchase, pack and wrap gifts with the donations received.
    • The average value of a gift is R75. If you would like to shop for gifts yourself, you can include items such as:**
o Toothbrush and Toothpaste 
o Soap 
o Facecloth 
o Small chocolate or packet of sweets 
o Small packet of biscuits 
o Packet of tissues or a handkerchief
    • Optional extras:**
o Small notebook and pen 
o Small hand or body lotion 
o Deck of cards, dominoes etc. 
o Sewing kit 
o Unisex pair of socks
    • All gifts must fit into an ice-cream container or similar size box.
  • EFT deposit directly into Grandparent Giftathon account. Please e-mail proof of payment to grandgifts1@gmail.com
    Bank details
    Name: Grand Gifts
    Bank: Capitec
    Branch Code: 470010
    Account Number: 1490185605
    Reference: Your name

We will be collecting gifts until 18 November 2016.

Grandparent Giftathon was founded in 2012 by Caroline de Gruchy, who passed away on 1 January this year after an extremely brave fight with cancer, which she did with such grace. Tragically, her adored niece, Lauren Kieser passed away on the same day in a motor vehicle accident. Lauren was always actively involved in the project, summoning her nearest and dearest to join in. The memory of Caroline and Lauren’s beaming smiles will forever be remembered with love.

It was Caroline’s wish that Grand Gifts continue to serve the community she cared for so deeply. In honour of these two amazing people, we are ready for Grand Gifts 2016!

Drop off points (Contact us for details):


Woodstock, Kenilworth, Newlands, Rosebank, Rondebosch, Claremont, Oranjezicht, Constantia, Westlake, Noordehoek, Milkwood Park

Training Cooks with Woolworths

Earlier today, pre-school cooks from across the Cape Flats took part in a training session run by WOOLWORTHS SA, at our Kwakhanya Centre in Khayelitsha.

The session was aimed at educating the cooks about good nutrition and empowering them to provide healthy meals for the little ones in their care.

Xabisa Mbola, pictured here, works as a cook at Sivunyiwe Pre-school in Gugulethu and believes that the training will empower her with knowledge and take her far.

Seniors’ Cultural Day 2016

Today, we celebrated our annual Ikamva Labantu Seniors’ Cultural Day. Over 700 seniors from our 19 clubs gathered to sing, dance and represent their club at the Langa Community Hall.

The seniors also displayed their handcrafted goods for sale, from beaded jewellery to crocheted toys. Not only is their talent and skill endless, but their various crafts are also part of an income generation project at the clubs.

Thank you to all for taking part and a special thank you to Ma Tutu Gceme, Founder of the Seniors’ Programme. Ma Tutu is pictured here with Ikamva Labantu Founder Helen Lieberman, who herself turned 75 this year.