Johannesburg -based NGO, Rays of Hope started operating with one project in 1991 and has grown to a network of seven community-based projects, focusing on education, orphaned & vulnerable children, and work readiness. The organisation is hands-on in Alex, having developed close relationships with community leaders, the police, high schools, the Alexandra Clinic and the Department of Social Development, which has enabled it to leverage appropriate assistance when available and necessary.
Following their latest campaign , titled ‘Sponsor a Child’, the NGO offers Joburg’s residents the opportunity to make a real and meaningful difference on their door step from as little as R300 per month.
Social -TV got in touch with Rays of Hope Business Relationship Specialist Tracy Peppler, to find out more .
How long as Rays of Hope been operating in Alexandra?
We’ve been there for 28 years, starting with one programme and now running nine different ones, impacting over 2,000 people every week.
What was the gap that the organisation wished to fill in the community?
We focus on building sustainable relationships to ensure lasting change. We don’t do hand-outs but rather work in partnership with individuals and families to give them a hand-up. We focus on the areas of education, orphaned and the vulnerable and most recently work readiness.
What steps or programmes have been birthed since the launch of the organisation?
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT- Imagine between 30 and 80 little children actively engaged in learning; being taught that “school” is fun and singing loud and upbeat songs. That’s what our programme aims to achieve through equipping the caregivers with the skills and knowledge to nurture 0 – 6-year olds to grow, develop and thrive in their community. This is done through regular visits by an experienced ECD fieldworker and supported by a multidisciplinary team of volunteers at quarterly workshops.
ROSEACT SATURDAY SCHOOL- Every Saturday, close to 300 young people in grades 4 – 9 arrive at the Central Johannesburg College, Alexandra Campus for extra Mathematics and English classes. All classes are taught by an army of volunteers, including several Rose-Act alumni.
IGNITION PROGRAMME- The Ignition programme selects matriculants from Alexandra schools and provides them with a matrix of support to enable each one to study at a tertiary level or complete technical training, with the goal of finding sustainable employment.
ITHEMBA LABANTWANA- Ithemba Labantwana, which means “Hope for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children” uses a family-based-care model to support orphaned and vulnerable children in Alexandra. This project has two streams. Firstly, the Ithemba Labantwana project which focuses on children living in the community. Secondly, our foster family that cares for children who were abandoned, while at the same time working on re-uniting them with family members
GOGOS OF HOPE- In Alexandra, Grannies (affectionately known as “Gogos”) play a vitally important role in the community. They are the unsung heroes as they fill in the family gap as nurturers for the next generation. Gogo groups provide a place where Grannies in Alexandra can be cared for, encouraged and supported so that they can carry their unexpected and untimely burden effectively, and leave an optimistic legacy for the next generation
HOME BASED CARE- Being sick is bad enough when you can get to the doctor, but when you are poor, bed-bound and have limited people to care for you; then a visit from the HBC team can be life-changing. Every week the team visit the sick and dying in their shacks in Alexandra Township. They provide advice, comfort and spiritual support, food, clothing, bed linen and household equipment. They also repair and clean the shacks that the patients live in.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION- While carbohydrate-rich food is more affordable, it is not nearly as healthy as fresh food, especially fruit and vegetables. In partnership with a number of supermarkets, Rays of Hope distributes fresh food on a weekly basis to over 1,900 people in Alexandra. The food supports people in all of our programmes, as well as benefiting many other organisations in Alex that we work with, including the Itlhokomeleng Old Age Home and Alex Hospice.
Our website also covers all of this in more detail : www.RaysOfHope.co.za.
Why is there a focus on maths and science for the children within the organisation?
This is referring to only one programme which is our RoseAct Saturday School. We chose to focus on those subjects as English is the language that the schools should be teaching in from Grade 4, but the English spoken by the teachers is very poor and in most cases, children are taught in Sotho; however they are required to write exams in English, so this is a huge need. Maths is one of those fundamental subjects that forms the basis of understanding the world in which we live. It is also a key subject to many opportunities to study further and is not something that can be easily picked up if the basics were missed.
What is does sponsoring a child mean and how can people get involved?
Sponsoring a child is an opportunity to support the work of Rays of Hope by sponsoring a child who is benefitting from one of the programmes, through a monthly donation. In the short term, the money ensures that the programmes can continue to operate. In the medium term, sponsors will be given the opportunity to meet and build a relationship with their sponsored child, which will be a life-changing and enriching experience for both the child and the sponsor (provided the sponsor passes the screening required by the Children’s Act).
People can get involved by going to our website (www.RaysOfHope.co.za/sponsor) and signing up to register a child in one of the three programmes. They will then receive an email with the child who has been allocated to them. Mid-year and end-of-year progress reports will be sent as the year progresses.
How long can someone sponsor a child and how does the organisation ensure sustainability in this regard?
Initially the sponsorship is for a year – 12 months – but we will contact all sponsors around the 10 month mark to encourage them to continue their monthly donation. This is only one of our sources of income and the organisation also looks for other ways to partner with individuals and companies to ensure sustainability.