Keep an older person warm this Mandela Day

This Mandela Day, we’re collecting blankets and non-perishable food for the vulnerable elderly in our clubs.


Drop off your donations at our Head Office until 17 July and we’ll deliver the items to our clubs on the 18th.

Want to join us on the day? Just let us know!


Drop off point:

Donate R100 in honour of Mandela’s Centenary instead.

Personal Info

Donation Total: R300 One Time

Beading for Bread

Ethel Fanelo was born in Cape Town in 1949. Now 69 years old, she lives at her home in Nyanga with her four grandchildren, her sister, and her sister’s husband. Ethel receives a pension grant of R1,600 ($135) per month which she uses to buy food and basic necessities.

But as with many elderly people in South Africa, this pension is stretched across the extended family and very little, if anything, is left for the senior’s own self-care.

“The pension is better than nothing but it’s not enough for my grandchildren and myself, and I have to pay the rent too,” says Ethel. “My daughter helps by giving me food when I am short.”

Ethel attends the Noluthando 2 Senior Club, where she has opted to join the Relate beading project. In partnership with Ikamva Labantu, this project allows seniors to earn supplementary income from beading bracelets for the non-profit organisation, Relate.

“The beads have allowed me to be a good grandmother,” says Ethel. “I use all the money from beading to buy bread and to help with bus fares for the children’s school.”

Ethel is one of 18 seniors at her club who have joined the beading project. Collectively, they earned R27,875 ($2,345) in 2017. Sazi Gunya, the Relate Project Manager, remarks that the club is very good at beading. “Especially me!”, Ethel chimes in.

And she may well be one of the best – craftwork is not new to Ethel. When she divorced her husband of 11 years, she started working as a seamstress to make ends meet for her two young daughters.

“I love sewing and I still have a sewing machine in my house but I’m too old to use it now. That’s why I like beading – because my hands need to work. If I don’t bead my hands will get stiff; I need the exercise. These beads make me happy!”

Ethel Fanelo attends the Noluthando 2 Senior club daily, where she is provided with two warm meals, healthcare and counselling services and exercise activities. She is one of 410 seniors taking part in the Relate income-generation project across 19 Ikamva Labantu senior clubs.

Our Family Services

We believe that strong families build strong communities. Our new Family Services programme is based on this belief and takes a holistic approach that empowers families to thrive in our most vulnerable communities.

We aim to work with the family as a unit, whilst also paying attention to the individual needs of each family member. We know that what affects a grandparent has the capacity to affect their grandchild in the same household.Through Psycho-social Support, Health Services, and Life Skills and Recreation, we aim to enable each active and willing family member to contribute positively to their family unit and ultimately, to their community.

The programme is supported by three services:

Psycho-social Support

  • Access to basic services e.g. access to schooling, health care, shelter, food.
  • Individual, family & group counselling
  • Specialised therapeutic support including access to social workers and psychological support to guide and refer
  • Group work (peer-to-peer, support groups, family mediation)
  • Case management (including follow-ups, accompaniment to DSD, SASSA, hospitals)
  • Emergency relief food parcels when needed
  • Disability support, providing logistical support for people living with disabilities;
  • Community awareness workshops (e.g. Substance Abuse, Child Abuse, Mental Health)
  • Training courses (e.g. Parenting & personal development)

Life Skills and Recreation

  • Life skills for men using the modules of the Fatherhood programme from Hearts of Men to help men and youth identify their goals and learn tools to achieve them.
  • Handyman tips to empower and upskill men to become self-sufficient.
  • Skills training that prepares participants for the world of work and lifelong learning.
  • Recreational activities: judo, basketball, swimming and hiking.


  • Trauma management with social workers providing psychological support, counselling sessions, and referrals
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health education for youth and their families
  • Addiction support for families and individuals. Providing healthcare, support and referals.

Get in touch with our Family Services team.

The Journey to becoming Principal

Each afternoon, as the school day ended in a rural village in the Eastern Cape, 15-year-old Lindiwe Dlakala would settle down with some homework. It was 1989 and against the backdrop of a country in the grips of Apartheid, she was determined to work towards a more hopeful future. Armed with the knowledge gained during school hours, Lindiwe would tackle homework late into the evening; but it wasn’t just her own homework that she was working on.

When the last class of the day ended, Lindiwe transitioned from pupil to teacher. “I used to teach other children after school, because there was no educated person in their home. I would visit the homes of grandmothers in my village and help their grandchildren with their homework.”

At just 15 years old, Lindiwe was already setting the groundwork for what would become a lifelong career.

Today, the 44-year-old is Principal at her own pre-school in Khayelitsha. Founded in 2013, Ethembeni Educare cares for 67 children, aged 0-5, from the surrounding area.

The pink and yellow walls of Ethembeni are peppered with educational posters, the letters of the alphabet and numbers up to 30. In the younger classes, these are replaced with fruit cut-outs and giant paintings of sea creatures and insects.

Lindiwe’s pre-school has been registered for one year now, though the process to reach registration status took almost twice as long.

In South Africa, a pre-school needs to be registered with the Department of Social Development in order to access an early learning subsidy, a form of government funding. But this can be a long process with many delays and challenges.

According to provincial government officials, there are about 2,000 unregistered pre-schools in the Western Cape.

To meet the requirements for registration, Ikamva Labantu assisted Lindiwe in upgrading her pre-school. “I had to change all the doors and floors. We needed to have one toilet per 20 children, so I changed the bathrooms too.”

“I spent a lot of money upgrading the pre-school. I used money from school fees and from my own savings and slowly, with the help of my husband, we fixed up the pre-school. My husband helped me a lot because he knows that this is my dream,” Lindiwe says.

Lindiwe has four practitioners who make up her staff. The practitioner for babies aged 0-18 months is pictured above in her classroom.

For an informal pre-school with no external funding, an exercise like this is often unaffordable, making registration a distant reality for thousands of pre-schools across the country.

But together with Fezeka Sibidla, a community-based worker from Ikamva Labantu, Lindiwe overcame the first major obstacle to registration in 2015, when she received the stamp of approval for zoning. “This is the first bridge to cross” says Fezeka, who specialises in consulting pre-school principals on the registration process. “Once you have zoning and a brick structure, it’s easy to get the other clearances.”

But even with a registration certificate in hand, Lindiwe still has to apply to renew her funding this March. And that funding is as important now as it was pre-registration.

Lindiwe charges just R200 ($17) a month for school fees, which she uses to pay salaries for her four practitioners. “Sometimes I don’t get a salary of my own because I want to satisfy the staff.”

Fezeka echoes this statement, saying: “We know that she needs to keep her staff – whatever you do, you make sure that your staff are happy. No staff, no pre-school!”

The 5-6 years class, pictured with their practitioner and Lindiwe.

“I also need to give the children food, toys and stationery,” Lindiwe continues. “The DSD funding does help with salaries, food and maintenance –so there is some change, but not enough. Our staff still only receive R1,500 ($126) per month.”

Fundraising attempts within the community have been unsuccessful, with some parents struggling to even afford the school fees. “I will never chase the child away because of this,” says Lindiwe. “I need to take care of them because I need our country to have educated children.”

When she opened the doors to Ethembeni in 2014, Lindiwe looked after 20 children. Today, at almost 70 children, the pre-school is still growing. “The parents cry to us when we tell them that the pre-school is full. We need a bigger structure now; I will keep growing this pre-school until I die.”

True to her word, Lindiwe plans to apply for Grade R certification this year from the Department of Education; this would allow her to open a Grade R class at Ethembeni. “We give the children a good education. We even do graduations for the older children. Last year we graduated 26 children; in 2014 it was just 14.”

Lindiwe’s office is cramped but perfectly organised. The noise of 70 children doesn’t allow for much quiet space to work, but Lindiwe hopes to soon convert her office into another classroom and move her desk to a quieter part of the building.

Although this is Lindiwe’s pre-school, Fezeka has walked the road to registration with her and is clearly proud of the outcome. “The place has been transformed. It was not colourful outside before, it was just brick walls. You can see that Lindiwe is using the funding in a good way. It is bright and colourful now and everyone can see that this a pre-school,” she says.

And the changes aren’t only physical; testament to Lindiwe’s dedication, the children’s learning has improved too. “We have a relationship with the local schools,” says Lindiwe. “The teachers come to me and tell me that our children are doing really well – they are writing properly and are at the right stage of development.”

This is, of course, the ultimate goal for any pre-school; to get children ready for the start of their schooling career.

More than 20 years since Lindiwe first started helping other children with their homework, she is still hard at work, striving towards a better future for South Africa.

Lindiwe took part in the Ikamva Labantu Principals Training programme, learning about leadership and management. Two of her staff members have done the Practitioners Training programme where they learnt practical skills for the classroom and how to engage with children and parents.

Fezeka is a community-based worker who works for the Ikamva Labantu Registration Help Desk; helping principals to navigate the registration process for pre-schools. We have reached 556 community pre-schools through this initiative.

Introducing Ishrene Davids as General Manager

We are thrilled to welcome Ishrene Davids back to the Ikamva Labantu family, as she joins us as the new General Manager.

Ishrene has more than 30 years’ experience in the social development sector.

She grew up in a time when careers were limited and ambition was a swear word. As a young child, living in a two-bedroom house that groaned under the weight of 12 boisterous, uncontrollable siblings, she discovered the solitude that books offered. She understood the power of the English language and started to read dictionaries, voraciously. After completing matric she registered at the University of the Western Cape to study Social Work.

Ishrene has worked in three large and well-respected NGOs, since completing a three-year stint as a probation officer at the Department of Social Development in 1988. Her work as a mental health professional at Cape Mental Health Society laid the foundation for a committed career of advancing social justice and the care and support of individuals and communities. She worked there for 10 years.

She joined Ikamva Labantu in 2000 as a field manager when the organisation was undergoing one of its first big transformations. Her first big (and daunting) task was to work alongside external consultant, Fedde Renkema, managing the communication and feed back to staff. Later she helped to develop the Human Resource Department and was the HR manager for a number of years. She went on to become the Chief Operations Officer and later, the Director. It was a time of tremendous growth for her. She left Ikamva Labantu in 2011 to complete her honours in Social Policy and Management at the University of Cape Town.

During 2012 she was approached by the Community Chest to assist in the grant-making department. When the new CEO started in 2013, Ishrene led the transformation process and became the lead communications person for the staff. Her various roles included HR, strategy, compliance, grant-making and policy. When she left the Community Chest she was interim Chief Operations Officer.

Ishrene enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and travelling. She has two adult children who are both still living at home. She has run out of ways to get rid of them.

Ishrene says that “Returning to Ikamva Labantu is like coming home.”

We are thrilled to have Ishrene back with us and look forward to further growth and development of the organisation, with Ishrene at the helm.

Ride the CT Cycle Tour with us on March 11th

How to join our team

  • A team entry costs R800 per person, to be paid by 31 January 2018.
  • Make a pledge to raise R2,000 for our cause by 20 March 2018. Our expert team of fundraisers will give you all the tips you need. (This part is a donation that is fully tax deductable.)

Only 8 spots left! Apply below today.

What you’ll get:

  • Guaranteed entry into the biggest timed cycle race in the world!
  • Group start times (often better than individual start times)
  • A branded cycling shirt
  • A goodie bag
  • A chance to meet the men, women and children that Ikamva Labantu supports every day.

Your entry will help to support over 20,000 vulnerable children & adults in Cape Town’s townships.

Apply to join our Cape Town Cycle Tour team today!

Kholeka’s Story

Donate to support seniors in need.

“I grew up taking care of people. I worked throughout my high school years so that I could help my parents with money. When my father died, my mother became very sick. I had to look after her and I became a mother-figure to my siblings.

So when a friend suggested I volunteer at Ikamva Labantu, I went the next day to see how I could help. I did odd jobs for a while; I was shy and scared that I wasn’t doing the right thing. But I never gave up – when I do something, I do it properly.

Soon they asked me to bring in my CV. I didn’t know anything about being an Umelwane – but I told myself I must try. I had a feeling that the job was mine. Even when I got the job, I was still nervous as I had only worked with children before, not seniors.

As an Umelwane, I searched door-to-door for seniors who needed help. It can be scary, because you never know what you will face behind that closed door. Some of the seniors can be stubborn and don’t want to come to a place that they don’t know. Still, I have recruited about 35 elderly citizens to our senior club, which now has over 50 members. It is just one of Ikamva Labantu’s 19 senior clubs.

I always felt that there was someone inside of me who wanted to come out and do amazing things. I have now been promoted to Club Assistant and I make sure that all the needs of our club members are met. It was difficult for me to come out of my shell, but now I can’t be stopped!

At the club, the seniors know that someone has their back, that someone is there when they need a shoulder to cry on – they know they will be treated with dignity and respect. And the seniors are a great support for each other when they face difficult things in their lives.

We had one senior who was raped by a man in her neighourhood. She did not come to the club for months, and when she did return she was quiet and withdrawn. On the day of her attacker’s court case, all of the seniors from the club stood outside the court with placards. They were a huge support to her. Now, she has started to smile again at the club. When I see that smile, I know that there is hope.

That is why we do this work. Not for recognition – but to bring hope to people.

I asked one senior what Ikamva Labantu has done for her. She told me ‘I have never had a bank account before. Now, because of Ikamva Labantu I have a bank account and I know how to save my money.’

When I applied for this job, I didn’t realise that I would fall in love with it. But when I see that I helped to make just a small change with one senior – that is very big to me.

I realise now that I have always had a passion to help people. Today, it’s the seniors who are my responsibility, so I must be there for them.”

Kholeka in the home of 73-year-old Alice Tshumsila, one of the seniors she cared for as an Umelwane. Alice was bedridden after suffering from a stroke. Alice said of Kholeka: “She is a friend who even cleans my house, makes my bed and makes coffee for me. Kholeka gives me hope.”

Kholeka started out volunteering for Ikamva Labantu and was soon offered the position of an Umelwane (Neighbourhood Friend). Umelwanes provide home-based care for frail seniors, and recruit mobile seniors to our clubs. Today, Kholeka is a Club Assistant at Masincediswe Senior Club in Khayelitsha. She is a shining example of someone who is committed to uplifting their community.


Personal Info

Donation Total: R50 One Time

Donate via Snapscan below (click to be taken to the mobile app):


Network & admin fees apply

Give back with #GivingTuesday

Instead of splashing out on #BlackFriday, we are encouraging the public to use their money to make a difference with #GivingTuesday on 28 November.


Personal Info

Donation Total: R50 One Time

Donate via Snapscan below (click to be taken to the mobile app):

How will my donation help?

We have 19 senior clubs across the Cape Metropole, supporting 2,000 elderly citizens on a daily basis. At the clubs, seniors receive health checks and take part in various activities from outdoor exercises to income-generation projects; they also receive two warm meals every day.  But these clubs close over the festive season, allowing our staff to spend Christmas with their families.

Over this time, elderly club members will be at home and will have to provide food for themselves and their families. This can be a huge financial burden for the elderly, who are often breadwinners in their family, feeding children and grandchildren with money from their monthly pension of just R1,600.

To relieve this burden, we wish to give these seniors a Christmas food hamper to take home over the festive season. We are calling on the public to brighten up a senior’s Christmas by donating R50 towards a food hamper.

Visit our Facebook page to dedicate your hamper to a grandparent or elderly person who has influenced your life and nominate a friend to do the same.

Donate today

Sixty + Counts event puts treatment of the elderly in the spotlight

On Thursday, 12 October, in partnership with Embassy of France in South Africa, we hosted a panel discussion and silent auction at the Alliance Française du Cap.

The Sixty + Counts exhibition is on display for the month of October in celebration of International Day of Older Persons, marked annually on 1 October.

“It is assumed that the elderly in communities are the most respected but they are often the forgotten, neglected and even abused,” says Lulama Sigasana, Head of our Seniors Programme.

The panel discussion focussed on the challenging realities for the elderly in South Africa, whilst also highlighting the work that is being done and what can still be done through collaboration between government and non-governmental organisations.

Panellists included Owen Kleinhans from the Department of Justice; Dr Leon Geffen, Executive Director, Samson Institute for Ageing Research; Gavin Weir, Director of Sector Task Team for Older Persons and Lulama Sigasana, Head of the Seniors Programme at Ikamva Labantu.

Says Weir: “We have one of the best constitutions in the world, we have the Older Person’s Act, but without the resources to implement the basic rights of the elderly, these are not worth the paper they are written on.”

Weir continued to say that through engagement with provincial and local government on housing, it became clear that the social grant receiving pensioner was not a priority. He says: “we have to start understanding that there is not necessarily help available from government, we need to mobilise society to protect and celebrate the ‘living libraries’ in our communities and our nation.”

Owen Kleinhans – who is responsible for all outreach activities at the Western Cape Regional Office at the Department of Justice (relating to Vulnerable Groups) made a public contract on the evening stating,  “I am a public servant, contact me to protect the rights of the seniors and to let me serve you. There is a widespread lack of knowledge among seniors of their rights to protect themselves against domestic violence, loan sharks, economic and emotional abuse”. He reiterated the importance of a collective voice from seniors and a better understanding of their rights.

According to Dr Leon Geffen, research is being undertaken to understand older persons’ perception of the healthcare services in South Africa with the intention of building a resilient healthcare service that responds to the needs of a rapidly ageing population. The current research has shown that older people attending healthcare clinics do not feel that their needs are currently being met.

The Moderator for the evening, Professor Brian Williams – who works in the field of mediation, peace-building and labour law, concluded the panel discussion by saying “we’re left with a powerful and profound question of humanity when it comes to our seniors, and it’s up to us as a collective, to answer it and to mobilise and support the rights of our seniors to human dignity”.

We raised an amazing R70,000 through the auction of the exhibition portaits, which will go straight towards our Seniors Programme – helping to provide support and resources to vulnerable seniors.

 “This amount will ensure that at least 185 seniors will be able to make vital appointments to specialised healthcare or grant-making services and contribute to the R9 million annual budget,” says Jovana Djeri, Head of Fundraising at Ikamva Labantu.

“France is committed, with local partners, to the social transformation of South Africa through projects such as this one. On the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, we wanted to highlight and promote the excellent work done by Ikamva Labantu and put the spotlight on the rights of older people in South African society,” says Ambassador of France, Christophe Farnaud.

“We are delighted by the conversations that took place and the new networks that were established. That makes us especially hopeful that seniors are being heard,” says Djeri.

Sigasana concludes; “Our seniors fought for freedom in South Africa. We say now that South Africa is free. Who is free? Our seniors certainly aren’t. There are not enough accessible facilities, there is not enough protection, there is not enough care. This is where government partners with, and relies on, civil society to provide additional assistance and a voice for the voiceless.”

Thank you so much to all who joined us, supported the event and furthered the dialogue around the wellbeing of South Africa’s elderly.

Any of the photographs that were not sold through the silent auction are now on sale to the general public and the exhibition will be open to the public until the 29th of October.

For more information on Sixty + Counts or the seniors programme, please contact

Childhood Awareness Day

Ikamva Labantu has hosted our second Childhood Awareness Day in collaboration with Metro Central Health Department.

The objective of the day was to create a space for dialogue between community members working with preschools and to connect parents with the local health services. Forty-two participants attended the event.

We have developed a programme which focuses on how to practically identify, refer and work with children who need to be assessed for developmental delay.

In order to achieve this, the day includes workshops on:

  • expected development in children under six
  • the ‘red flags’ that alert us to problems in early development
  • who, where, when and how to refer children in the Khayelitsha District.

The structure of the day has evolved to allow people to hear general information but also to speak directly to professionals about individual cases.

The day started with the occupational therapists leading a workshop on early development; participants then broke into groups and moved between stations. These stations were led by: social workers, physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and health promoters. Within these small groups, people were able to discuss concerns directly with the professionals.

For more information, please contact our Family Service on 021 361 0909 or