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Take another look at "Young Heroes: The Families We Help" and all of the videos on our YouTube channel, YoungHeroesSZ.


 
 

Young Hero Becomes Electrical Engineer- January 2014

Today's Times of Swaziland carries the story of Samkeliso Mkhulisi. You can read it at http://www.times.co.sz/community/94829-e180-stipend-makes-young-man-a-hero.html

 

Join Us for Swazi Cycle V - November 2013

Young Heroes Foundation (YHF) today revealed plans for Swazi Cycle V, its fifth annual bicycle trip through the beautiful, peaceful African kingdom of Swaziland. The trip will take place from May 21 – June 2, 2014.

Due to popular demand, we’re repeating one of our most popular trips – from the very northwestern border through the whole country to the southeastern border with South Africa in order to raise $100,000 for our programs. Covering some 200 miles in six days, the ride winds through the mountainous Hhohho region of the north, through the midveld on down to Lavumisa in the southern lowveld.

Non-riders, as always, are welcome, too. Working in teams with local staff and volunteers, they'll visit family homesteads to enroll at least 100 more children in Young Heroes. And, as always, the trip will end up with a celebration at the Bushfire festival

For more information or to register to join us, visit http://swazicycle.dojiggy.com.

 

Young Heroes Announces Testing Dates - November 2013

A major part of our mission at Young Heroes is to ensure the health of the children we support.

On November 16 and 23, we'll stage Young Heroes Testing Days at Sipophaneni and the Baylor Centre of Excellence in Mbabane. Some 300 newly enrolled orphans in our program will have the opportunity to have a physical examination by a doctor.

In addition, both they and their caretakers can be tested for HIV. Any child who tests positive then gets free medication and monthly clinic visits and can attend monthly support groups and our Sivivane Camps. At previous testing days, over 90% of children and 60% of caretakers have chosen to test -- rates that far surpass the national average.

 

Young Heroes Joins Aid for Africa - July 2013

Young Heroes is proud to announce that, following a rigorous screening process, we have been accepted as a member of the Aid for Africa Network, a partnership of some 85 select charities working on a broad range of issues thoughout the continent. You can find us at http://aidforafrica.org/member-charities/young-heroes-foundation .

According to the Network, “Organizations wishing to become part of the Aid for Africa partnership must meet stringent tests of fiscal accountability, governance and programmatic impact. Together our members, with their partners on the ground in Africa, touch almost every aspect of the African community.”.

Importantly, membership in Aid for Africa means that Young Heroes is now qualified for funding from the Combined Federal Campaign, the charity mechanism for employees of the U.S. government. If you work for the government – or know someone who does – we hope you’ll share this great news, so that we can help even more of Swaziland’s orphans.

 

SAP Donates New IT System - June 2013

Thanks to SAP South Africa, our Swazi staff will no longer be hampered by slow internet speeds, allowing them to work more productively and efficiently. That, in turn, will enable us to better serve both the children in our program and the donors who support them.

Since virtually all of our records are maintained in online databases, Young Heroes’ slow network had proven a real constraint. Working with the U.S.-based company Storm Code, SAP has enabled a system through which our staff can work offline in real time, with the work replicated to our server during nighttime hours. SAP’s donation of time, expertise and hardware has already proven invaluable – as the smiles on our staff’s faces testify.

To see a video on their contribution, visit http://www.sap-tv.com/#/topic/4/video/8858

Our great thanks go out to the many who worked on this project.

 

Sandzisile's Story - March 2013

In 1997, Sandzisile Fakudze was born to a mother who was HIV positive; she was also born with the virus. When her mother passed away, her grandmother took her in but, sadly, her grandmother passed away in 2011. Sandzisile moved in with her aunt and sister.

While there are enough rooms for shelter in her aunt's Manzini Region homestead, the family relies on the support of Young Heroes. They use her Young Heroes sponsorship to buy Sandzisile basic food items and other necessities, including toiletries and her school uniform.

Sandzisile has also attended Sivivane Camp, co-organized by Young Heroes, where she met other children living with HIV. Here, through games and activities, she has learned about safety, love and respect – and importantly, about HAART adherence.

She says, “I really thank you, Young Heroes, for coming to my life and helping me. Now, I no longer go to school without food, and I have a decent uniform like other children. Through your counseling I have also accepted my HIV status and I have peace with myself now.”

 

A Child Gets a Chance - March 2013

When Nothando Hlatjwako was only seven years old, her mother passed away. Though she was eager to attend school, her grandmother refused to pay her school fees.

In 2005, her father decided to become involved in her life again and she was able to go back to school until he passed away in 2008. She continued to live with her stepmother but the woman resented the burden of raising a child who was not her own. It became clear that Nothando would have to leave the homestead.

Mrs. Makhubu, one of her teachers at St Marks High School, knew of Nothando’s situation. She talked to one of her relatives, a retired woman who gladly welcomed Nothando into her home. At this point, Young Heroes became aware of her and immediately arranged sponsorship, which provided her the ability to have nutritious food every day, acquire new clothing and get help with school fees without placing a burden on her new home.

Nothando still stays in Mbabane with the Makhubus, who consider her part of their family. She is now in her final year of secondary school - a testimony to her determination in spite of the odds she has faced.

 

A Child-Headed Family Flourishes - February 2013

After their parents died, Bheki (18), Simphiwe (15) and Sihle (13) Mkhabela were cared for by an older sister, but she married and left them on their own. Community members made us aware of their situation two years ago; we have supported them ever since with monthly sponsorship grants. Today, the siblings live together in a newly built three-room house. Along with the food and clothing they need, the children have been able to purchase a diamond-mesh wire fence to secure both their homestead and their farm plot, so they can plow, plant and harvest vegetables without worry.

Family Relations Officer Phumzile Tshangase recently found the homestead in neat, well-tended and good condition. All three children are attending school and, she said, “The two younger ones came home looking very smart in their uniforms.” That’s a tribute to Bheki, who struggles with the responsibilities placed on him to act as parent – including finding funds for their school fees so that all of them might finish secondary school.

Young Heroes tries to restore hope among Swaziland’s orphans by letting them know that someone cares about them. With the Mkhabela family, we’ve succeeded so far: All three of the children told us that there was a time when they did not know where their next meal would come from, but now they look forward to a future in which they will finish school and, hopefully, go to college.

 

Young Heroes Director Named Ford Fellow - February 2013

Young Heroes extends great congratulations to our managing director Khulekani Magongo, who – in the face of rigorous international competition – has been named a 2013 Ford Fellow.

As a Fellow, he will receive an intensive three-week nonprofit management training course at Columbia University’s Picker Center for Executive Education in New York City this June, courtesy of the Ford Motor Company International Fellowship of the 92nd Street Y.

 

Young Heroes Announces Swazi Sojourn - January 2013

Each year, Young Heroes brings visitors to the beautiful kingdom of Swaziland to explore, to work with our program and to help raise funds for our sponsorship, medical and skills training projects for orphan families. This year, we're off on Swazi Sojourn, and we hope you'll join us -- or support your friends who do. Our goal again this year: To raise $100,000 for our programs for the orphans.

This year's trip will take place from May 17-26. Join us to visit rural communities to enroll new orphan families in our programs; spend an overnight visit getting up close with endangered wildlife at the renowned Mkhaya Game Reserve; hike in beautiful surroundings; and meet the young entrepreneurs in our new business training program.

For more information, or to pledge your support for one of our participants, visit Swazi Sojourn.

 

Young Heroes Wins International Award - December 2012

Young Heroes Foundation has been named one of two top prize-winners in Thomson Reuters’ 2012 Community Champion Awards. The honor recognizes worthy organizations supported by employees of the international news organization.

“We’re hugely grateful to Thomson Reuters,” said Young Heroes Foundation president Steve Kallaugher. “But we were also hugely surprised, as this is the second time that we’ve won the award. After winning in 2009, we're very proud that Thomson Reuters continues to recognize our work."

The award is due in large part to the efforts of Thomson Reuters’ employee Jack Conrad, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland and long-time Young Heroes’ supporter. Based in Switzerland, Jack completed a 500-mile bike ride around the Alps this past summer, raising $8,000 in what he called his “Switzerland for Swaziland” ride. His support brought Young Heroes to the attention of the prize committee.

 

Newman’s Own Increases Support - December 2012

Adding to Young Heroes’ recent success, the organization this week also received news that it has been awarded a $15,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation.

“The Newman family of charities have been a crucial source of support for us,” says YHF President Kallaugher, noting that this is the third year that the foundation has bestowed a grant.

In addition, Young Heroes partners in Swaziland with Newman’s Own’s SeriousFun Children’s Network, which was formerly known as the Hole in the Wall Camps. Twice a year, Young Heroes stages two-week camps that bring children challenged by HIV together to share their experiences, learn strategies to cope with their illnesses, and – as Paul Newman put it – “to raise a little hell.”

 

SAP South Africa Wins Grant to Assist Young Heroes - October 2012

Because of its long-time support for Young Heroes, the South African division of SAP, an international software firm based in Germany, was recently awarded a prize of 10,000 euros in a company-wide competition. In turn, SAP South Africa decided to donate the entire amount to help our orphans

To further encourage employee involvement with Young Heroes, the company recently brought 10 volunteers for a weekend to learn about our work, and to join our staff in helping out at a Neighborhood Care Point and enrolling a new community in our program. To read about one volunteer's experience, go to http://scn.sap.com/blogs/pretoriadiary/2012/10/23/sap-volunteers-visit-aids-orphans-in-swaziland/.

We're deeply grateful for SAP's continuing support, which will allow us to bring assistance to even more children in need. We look forward to a long partnership on behalf of the orphans.

 

Jack Conrad: Switzerland for Swaziland - July 2012

Young Heroes wants to thank its long-time supporter Jack Conrad for continuing his tradition of biking for the orphans.

Jack, a former Peace Corps volunteer in the kingdom, just completed a six-country, 750 km ride he called "Switzerland for Swaziland." The ride covered some of Europe's most mountainous terrain in France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

With this undertaking, he raised over US$5000 for Young Heroes from his colleagues in Friends of Swaziland and Thomson Reuters.

We'd like to give a big "siyabonga" to him and all those who supported his incredible ride.

 

Young Heroes Set to Expand - June 2012

Young Heroes has announced that it is poised to expand its services to orphans by enrolling and sponsoring 200 more orphans.

The moves come as a result of rigorous cost-cutting in the past year and successful fundraising, particularly by Young Heroes’ American affiliate, Young Heroes Foundation. Also helping is a favorable foreign exchange rate, which allows American donations to go further than in the past.

Says Young Heroes Director Khulekani Magongo, “Like all other organizations in Swaziland, we have come through a difficult year. But now, we’re happy to announce that we will soon be able to enroll more children and support them with monthly stipends for food, clothing and other necessities.”

 

Swazi Adventure Biggest Success Yet - June 2012

For the past three years, Young Heroes Foundation has brought American visitors to Swaziland to see Young Heroes in action and raise funds for our programs. This year’s group of 13 adventurers raised over E800,000 (US$100,000) – the largest amount yet.

Along with building playgrounds and going into the field on site visits with Young Heroes staff, a highlight of the trip was a meeting with Dr. Derek von Wissell, the director of NERCHA, who gave the visitors a comprehensive overview of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Swaziland and the efforts to combat it. The adventurers also enjoyed the MTN Bushfire festival; hiking and biking around the Lubumbo Plateau; and tracking the Big 5 in Kruger National Park.

Our thanks to all who came with us; all who pledged their support; and all who made the trip possible.

Watch this space for news of next year’s trip, which will take place in May-June 2013.

 

GFC Grant Enables Skills Training Program - June 2012

Young Heroes is happy to announce the news that it is the beneficiary of an US$8,000 grant from the Global Fund for Children (GFC). The grant, the first step in a multi-year relationship, will fund a year-long pilot program offering skills training and basic business education to 10 children who age out of Young Heroes when they turn 19, conducted in partnership with Manzini Youth Cares.

Young Heroes Director Khulekani Magongo says, “We’re very excited about this new opportunity. It has always been our hope that, after taking care of the basic needs of our children and making sure they are healthy, we could help them acquire the skills they’ll need as adults. This new project will help us accomplish that, and we’re very grateful to GFC for making it possible.”

 

SAP South Africa Donates $10,000 - June 2012

Young Heroes wishes to thank software giant SAP for its US$10,000 donation to Swazi Adventure, which increases the support the company has given during the previous two years. We were pleased to host a group of SAP executives and marketing professionals during the Adventure, so that they could meet some of the families they support, as well as enjoy the music at MTN Bushfire. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership between our organizations.

 

Major New Study Shows Entrenched Epidemic - March 2012

The newly released Swaziland HIV Incidence Measurement Survey paints a stark portrait of the world in which Young Heroes works.

It confirms an unchanging prevalence rate of 31% of adults 18-49 - the highest on earth. Some good news results from the increased number of people on ART and decreased prevalence among younger people, but 54% of women ages 30-34 are infected, as are 48% of men 35-39. The same percentage of men did not know their status before the survey, indicating a continued reluctance to test.

To read more about the study, go to http://www.healthcanal.com/public-health-safety/27415-First-Findings-Released-from-Swaziland-HIV-Incidence-Measurement-Survey-Announced-CROI-2012.html

 

YHF Announces Swazi Adventure - January 2012

In 2010, Young Heroes Foundation created "Swazi Cycle," a trip to Swaziland to help raise funds for the orphans. In 2011, we followed with "Swazi Challenge."

This year, join us on “Swazi Adventure,” beginning May 24th. Help the orphans while you see Africa in ways most tourists never do: hike or bike, build playgrounds, go into the field with Young Heroes, enjoy the Bush Fire Festival, enjoy at stay in a rural community and bag your Big Five at South Africa's renowned Kruger National Park.For more information, click on the "Adventure" link in the menu above.

 

Excerpt from Times of Swaziland Bush Fire Festival coverage ~ May 30, 2011
The complete article can be read here.

 

Young Heroes Thanks Newman's Own Foundation - October 2011

We are deeply grateful to Newman's Own Foundation for their new, generous grant of $20,000. In response to the ongoing economic crisis in Swaziland, Newman's Own has provided us with the funds needed to operate our sponsorship program for the year ahead, as well as ensuring continued sponsorship for dozens of children.

Actor Paul Newman was committed to helping make the world a better place. To carry on his philanthropic legacy, Newman’s Own Foundation donates to charity all net royalties and profits after taxes from the sale of Newman’s Own products. To date, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $300 million to thousands of charities around the world. For more information, visit www.newmansownfoundation.org.

 

Excerpt from Times of Swaziland Bush Fire Festival coverage ~ May 30, 2011
The complete article can be read here.

 

E600 000 Raised by Young Heroes Foundation via Swazi Challenge

With significant support from the Nell Newman Foundation; Tides Foundation; SAP South Africa; DoJiggy; and Bob & Bethany Millard, YHF's Swazi Challenge raised over US$92,000 (E600,000) for the kingdom's orphans.

The Challenge brought 12 Americans to the kingdom to build playgrounds and undertake a mountain bike ride around Hhohho. They presented the cheque from the stage at Bush Fire, furthering the partnership between the festival and Young Heroes.

The partnership began in 2006 when House on Fire Director Jiggs Thorne was approached by Steve Kallaugher, the creator of Young Heroes, who asked him to consider having an event at House on Fire to benefit the programme. Mr. Thorne, who had been developing the idea of a music and arts festival, decided that it should be staged to raise awareness of and funds for Swaziland's growing population of orphans. The Bush Fire Festival donates 100% of its proceeds to Young Heroes; it has increased its donation to Young Heroes each year.

 

Bushfire Headliner Nomfusi Visits Nkhanini NCP ~ May 30, 2011
by Shaun Raviv

 

On Sunday night Nomfusi was headlining the final evening of Bushfire, bringing the impressive crowd to their feet with her powerful vocals and the groovy beats of her band, the Lucky Charms.

On Monday morning she was playing with the kids at the Nkhanini NCP in Lobamba, singing and dancing with them on a visit with Young Heroes director Khulekani Magongo. No larger than a child herself and bearing a surprisingly youthful face, the 25 year-old singer from South Africa likes to tell orphans her story when she tours. After all, she is one of them.

Like many orphan children in Swaziland, Nomfusi has had a difficult life. Her father was jailed when she was just a baby and did not leave prison until a couple years ago. Soon after his release he was murdered. Her mother, Kwazibani, who the singer loved very much, died when Nomfusi was twelve of HIV-related illnesses. Her sister and the aunt who took over for her mother have also recently passed away due to AIDS.

When her mother died, she thought she would never recover. But her brother helped her get out of bed. “He said you can sit here and wait for people to help you,” says Nomfusi, “or you can stand up and do something.”

Rather than sulk, Nomfusi went to work, getting a scholarship to go to university and study accounting. While in school, she waitressed at a restaurant, singing in-between serving customers. She also sang at a local church, where she was discovered by a student of Philip de Villiers, now her manager. “She’s got such an inner strength,” says de Villiers. “She has more integrity than any person I know.”

Although Nomfusi is small in size, she is large in voice and, just as importantly, heart. Watching her play with the children at the NCP, it is obvious she feels at home with people from humble backgrounds similar to her own. She has shared her voice with enormous crowds at the World Cup celebrations and Bushfire, and has already traveled the globe, but she hasn’t lost her sense for what is truly important.

“Life is about choices,” she says. “You make a choice every single second.” Nomfusi long ago chose never to give up. “It’s all about finding hope somewhere.”

Before arriving in Swaziland, she contacted Young Heroes to arrange a visit with some of the organization’s sponsored children. “I trust that my visit will impact maybe one or two of the kids. It will stick in their minds and help them with their lives.” As she travels the world, and grows as an artist and person, surely Nomfusi will inspire countless more.

yh-nomfusi-visits-ncp.jpg  
Our Swazi Cycle team in the news: Bikers cross mountains for Young Heroes ~ May 27, 2011

Five adventure seekers crossed 200 kilometres of Swaziland’s mountainous terrain in support of the Young Heroes programme. Read on.

 
Part of our cycling team: Father and son to bike Swaziland to benefit AIDS orphans. Check out their story. ~ April 2011  
   

Dr. Michelle Goes the Distance - November 13, 2010

 

The patients at the Baylor Center of Excellence in Mbabane came to know Dr. Michelle Adler as a source of care and compassion. What they didn’t know was that she was in training for a special way to mark the end of her stay in Africa: In October, Dr. Michelle ran the Soweto Marathon to raise funds for Young Heroes. While her goal was to raise enough to support three orphans whose school fees she had been paying, her friends, family and colleagues pledged enough to double that, ensuring that six children will be completely sponsored for the year ahead.

Speaking of her experience, she says, “I can barely climb the stairs, but now I can say I’m a marathon finisher. People were really supportive of all the runners. The kids wanted to "high-five" everyone going by. It was a great atmosphere.”

We at Young Heroes wish Dr. Michelle all the best in her new position at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and we extend our gratitude to her and everyone who supported her run.

 
   

Young Heroes Foundation Announces Swazi Challenge – October 27, 2010

 

In 2010, Swazi Cycle saw eight bicyclists ride border to border across Swaziland to raise funds for Young Heroes.

In 2011, we’ll build on that success with Swazi Challenge, and we’ll welcome non-riders, as well. From May 21 – June 3, you can join us for your choice of adventures: while one group will be bicycling around the kingdom’s beautiful Hhohho region, another will be building playgrounds at orphan care points. And both groups will be there to enjoy Bush Fire, one of Africa’s most exciting music and arts festivals.

Join us for the trip of a lifetime. For more information, go to http://www.youngheroes.org.sz/http://swaziadventure.dojiggy.com/. If you'd like to register to join us, go to http://swazichallenge.dojiggy.com to sign up for the trip and set up your personal pledge page.

 
   

Bush Fire Doubles Donation – October 7, 2010

 

At the gala 10th anniversary celebration of House on Fire, director Jiggs Thorne presented a donation of E140,000 to Young Heroes. The money represents the profits earned from this year’s highly successful Bush Fire Festival.

Since its debut in 2007, Bush Fire has gained a reputation as a premier showcase for music from Swaziland and abroad. At the same time, it’s served as a call to action on behalf of the kingdom’s orphans. Donations in previous years have enabled the festival to support 40 children. As it grows in strength each year, this year’s contribution will extend those children’s sponsorship for another year and help another 40 orphans as well.

Young Heroes is continually grateful to Bush Fire, our largest donor in Swaziland, for its constant support. For information on next year’s festival, to be held from 27-29 May, visit http://www.bush-fire.com.

 
   

Second Sivivane Camp a Great Success - September 30, 2010

 

This August, our second camp for HIV+ children was held on the campus of Waterford Kamhlaba School.

Sivivane Camp is operated through a partnership among Young Heroes; Newman’s Own Foundation’s Association of Hole in the Wall Camps; Baylor Children's Foundation Swaziland,; and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. In addition to serving 86 children living with HIV in two five-day programs, another five-day training session prepared 20 staff members for future camps. The next one will be held in January.

Along with fun, games, and arts and crafts, Sivivane Camp helps children understand that they’re not alone. The program integrates lessons on the importance of healthy living, including adherence to medication; exercise; eating well; and finding supportive and loving relationships.

The lessons, relationships and strength the children get at the camps are reinforced all year long through monthly Teen Clubs – support groups administered by Baylor. Young Heroes provides transport costs so that all the HIV+ orphans in our program can attend these important groups.

 
   

Without Support, Orphans Leave Homesteads - August 27, 2009

 
   

Over the years, we have maintained that Young Heroes’ food and clothing sponsorships help keep children on their homesteads, in familiar surroundings with the support of relatives and neighbors. This benefit of our program has been borne out by recent events.

Due to recent donations, we’ve been able to sponsor a number of children for the first time since their enrolment in 2007. When our Family Relations Officers informed some families of the good news, they found that the children had left their communities to look for alternative places to stay. In most cases, they either went to a homestead where they work as herd boys or maids to get money for food, or to look for jobs in town. In a few cases, young girls left school after becoming pregnant, to obtain support for both themselves and their children. In one family, four young girls left home and went to stay in town, and have had no contact with their family since.

This makes it very difficult for Young Heroes to locate these children, establish their sponsorship and then monitor them. We regret both their plight and the need to tell donors that we cannot find them.

In other cases, we have lost track of children residing close to the border in communities such as Gege, Nhlangano and Lavumisa after they left the country to take advantage of free education in neighboring South Africa. By supporting a Young Heroes family, you can help us in our efforts to provide assistance to the orphans and minimize such cases of migration away from their homes.

 
   

Young Heroes Receives Newman Grant (August 20, 2009)

 
   

We're pleased to announce that Newman's Own Foundation has awarded Young Heroes Foundation a grant of $17,500. This will enable us to support over 40 orphans with food sponsorships for the year ahead, and to continue our education program by offering scholarships in 2010. We're deeply grateful to Nell Newman and all the people at the foundation for making this grant possible.

Newman's Own Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by Paul L. Newman. The Foundation continues Paul's commitment to donate all net profits and royalties earned from the sale of Newman's Own products to charity. As of June 2009, over $270 million has been donated to thousands of charities around the world.
 
   
Bush Fire 2009 Sizzles for Young Heroes - August 03, 2009  

Bush Fire, the annual arts and music festival that supports Young Heroes, continues to go from success to success. This year’s event, held from July 31 – August 2 at House on Fire in Malkerns, was the biggest yet. Despite rain on Saturday, over 10,000 people turned out to enjoy Johnny Clegg, Busi Mhlongo, Vusi Mahlasela and a host of other artists from all over Africa.

Along with donating a portion of the festival’s profits, Bush Fire enables Young Heroes to receive significant publicity online, in the press and at the event itself, where festival guests bought over $1000 (E8,600) of our merchandise – and even sponsored four children on the spot.

We are deeply grateful to the producers and sponsors of Bush Fire for making Young Heroes the recipient of their call to action, and for providing Swaziland with a world-class platform for the performing arts.
Bush Fire 2009

YH stall
   
Judge Mabuza Visits her Sponsored Families (July 13, 2009)  
   
Swaziland’s High court Judge Justice Qinisile Mabuza is not only the first Swazi female judge in the country but is also a philanthropist with a really big heart. The judge, is one of the major individual sponsors of Young Heroes orphans.

On the 11th of July 2009, Justice Mabuza visited 2 of the 7 families she is supporting. These families are situated in the KaNgcamphalala community near St Phillips and have a total of 17 children who are benefiting from the judge’s sponsorship. On arrival at one of the families she was shocked to find the desperate conditions under which this family was in. The Gina family, which is made up of only a young man of 14 years of age and his elderly Grandmother, live in an incomplete one room, stick and mud structure which offers no protection from the cold winter winds, but this is the only place they call home. Gogo Gina expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the Judge for her support.

After seeing the families, she proceeded to Cabrini Ministries under the St Phillips mission, where there was one of the children she supports and to see the institution which identified the families and contacted Young Heroes for support. Justice Mabuza also expressed her appreciation of the work we do and felt that more can be done for marginalized people in Swaziland. She further appealed to the nation to support these Young Heroes.





Sister Barbara, Khulekani and Qinisile
   

Sponsor Visits Her Young Heroes Families (June 5, 2009)

 
   

The Mhlanga and Matsenjwa families of Lomahasha were recently visited by their sponsor, Cornelia van der Kuur from Canada.

Lomahasha is a hunger-stricken rural community that borders Mozambique. It has a large number of destitute families who came to Swaziland as refugees from that country’s civil war. Eventually, they were allocated land and Swazi citizenship, but the area’s problems with absorbing this new population has worsened its poverty and hunger.

Cornelia brought clothes for both of her families and food for the Mhlangas, as they are the more destitute of the two: Zanele, who is age 11 and in Grade 2, stays with her unemployed grandmother. Both the child and her caretaker were delighted to meet their “Good Samaritan” in person.

In the Matsenjwa family, Mduduzi (15) was proud to tell his sponsor in person that he got a first-class pass last year in Grade 7, and now is enrolled in Form 1. Moved by the children’s determination to complete school, Cornelia immediately decided to help them both with school fees.  Mduduzi’s grandmother, who goes to the market to sell fruits and vegetables during day, was very thankful as she promised to guide and help the child until he finishes his education.
 
   
Charity Club Visits Sponsored Family (May 23, 2009)  
   

Recently, 17 students from the St Mark’s High School Charity Club in Mbabane, together with two of their teachers, visited the Tsabedze family at Nkwene, whom they are sponsoring.

Club patron and teacher Ms. Nonhlanhla Nkambule explained that the purpose of the club is to teach the students about the importance of giving. This year, Young Heroes was suggested by Club President Zanele Dlamini. She said, “I’m very happy we have started working with Young Heroes to help other less privileged children. We hope that our successors will continue with the project in the coming years.”

On arrival at Nkwene, club members began working on a garden project. The vegetables grown will be shared with other families in the community through the local church. They also presented the Tsabedze family with clothes and then proceeded to the church where they played games, sang songs with the children and distributed fruit that had been donated by members of the club who couldn’t join in the trip.

Caretaker Dudu Tsabedze, who is the sponsored child’s aunt, expressed her appreciation for the support she is now receiving. The Young Heroes’ sponsorship has come at a crucial time, as her husband has been laid off work due to a serious injury.

St Marks

St Marks visit
   
Young Heroes Moves to Strengthen Local Partnerships (April 23, 2009)  
   

One of Young Heroes’ strategies this year is to partner with other organizations so our children can receive services beyond food and clothing sponsorships. We’re  also developing ways of making monitoring more efficient through partnerships with NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs).

 This has already led to a partnership with World Vision, which is helping to monitor our families in Lomahasha. We’re now in discussions with organizations such as COSPE in Siteki, to explore how a networking strategy could avoid duplication of services. Further, we participated in the Co-ordination Assembly of Non-Governmental Organizations’ workshop to promote networking to respond to HIV/AIDS crisis and in regional focus group discussions.

 This collaboration with CANGO and NGOs promises to yield fruitful results as it provides forums to network, develop partnerships and co-ordinate with other organizations. Through these partnerships, we intend to provide timely and effective response to the orphans we serve.

 
   
100 Parties for the Orphans (April 6, 2009)  
   

Doing good doesn’t have to be hard work – it can be fun, too.

Young Heroes Foundation has launched “100 Parties for the Orphans.” Our goal: to turn the Day of the African Child into a day of action on behalf of the children we serve by enlisting 100 people to hold house parties on or around June 16, 2009. Already, people from all over the U.S. have responded to the call. We even have one party pledged in Malawi!

For full information or to register your party, go to http://youngheroes.org.sz/dayofaction.php, and help us spread the word by telling all your friends.

 

 
   
Do Extended Families Take Care of Orphans? (March 6, 2009)
 
   

In Swaziland, it can be difficult to identify child-headed households because Swazi culture has a tradition of  assigning a relative to act as parent to orphans. Even if the children take care of their own cooking, washing and other household chores, an adult is assigned , if in name only, to provide moral and social – but not necessarily financial -- support.

Unfortunately, this practice is unable to provide a safety net for today’s orphans because families are overstretched by the large number of deaths. Also, some  relatives move to live with the orphans for reasons other than supporting them. The reality is that orphans often lose their property to relatives, or are exploited by them.

One Young Heroes family has three girls who live alone. The eldest, who is 15 years old, has maturely assumed the role of parent. A community - based organization provides them psychosocial support at least once every three months and the nearest church helps out, but these organizations are unable to feed and clothe the children. Having seen the desperate situation, relatives have made a plan to have two young unemployed male relatives move in. They fear that if the girls will grow up and marry, the family will not inherit the home.
 Whether this idea will work for the children remains to be seen. Young Heroes monitors  such situations closely. As we continue to seek support for such families, we will also continue to highlight issues such as this, and advocate that communities protect their  children and provide needed support.

 








YH homestead


   
HIV Prevalence in Swaziland Rises to 42% (February 27, 2009)
 

The 2008 HIV sentinel sero-surveillance in women attending antenatal care services in Swaziland reveal very disturbing news indeed: HIV prevalence among pregnant women has again risen to 42%, an increase of 2.8% from 2006.

This is of much concern to Young Heroes, for it means that Swaziland will continue to have a large number of orphans in the years to come. Their number has already reached 117 000, and is escalating daily.

"Existing data clearly indicate continuity in new infections among the young population (15 - 24) with sharp increases noted between the ages of 19 and 23," the government report noted. "This shows that younger women, in particular, continue to be vulnerable to HIV infection.

We have hope that with the improved services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, newborns will be HIV negative. But in any case, we continue work hard to keep the orphans alive through the generous support of all our sponsors.


   
   
Local Companies in the Art industry donate “Art With a Heart” to Young Heroes (February 20, 2009)
 
   

With the ever increasing number of orphans in Swaziland, it is so gratifying that local companies continue to partner with Young Heroes to meet the needs of the orphans in the country.

This time, companies in the art industry have donated a number of art pieces to Young Heroes. Most of these employ women and men in rural and impoverished areas, teaching them to use their skills to earn some income to take care of their families. The artwork will be auctioned in the USA through the Young Heroes Foundation. Besides the partnership in combating HIV and AIDS, this is a unique intervention considering participation from the very poor and the time the artisans have taken to produce these fine art pieces. One these is a hand-embroidered throw which have taken 32 hours to make by 4 artisans with the love and thought of the orphans each step they made. Indeed, this is “Art With a Heart”.

Other art pieces donated include three large grassed bowls from Gone Rural, candles from Swazi Candles, three handbags from Amarasti, a tablecloth from Baobab Batik, a candle holder from House on Fire Gallery, the hand-embroidered throw from Listemba as well as a set from Ngwenya Glass. Young Heroes thanks these companies and Jen Crowie of Chilli Pepper Consulting for coordinating the project.  We hope that this will interest other organizations as well as individuals to respond to the call and become heroes to the orphans of Swaziland.
 
   
Young Heroes Increase Stipend Amount (February 13, 2009)
 
   

Young Heroes is pleased to announce that as of this month, the stipend amounts that we disburse to orphan families will increase. Food stipends will rise from E114 to E140 per child per month, while food and clothing stipends go from E174 to E210 per child per month.

There were two factors in this decision. The first is the rising cost of staples, most especially food. The monthly amount that we determined with the help of World Food Programme in 2006 at the inception of Young Heroes no longer has the buying power to meet the needs of the children we serve.

The second factor is the favorable exchange rate caused by the decline of the South African rand, to which the Swazi lilangeni is pegged, especially against the U.S. dollar. In light of this, we’re able to increase monthly stipends without asking our overseas sponsors to contribute more: Sponsorship remains $19.95 per month for food and $29.95 per month for food and clothing.

Local sponsors who pay directly in Emalangeni were notified of this development, with a request that they increase their contribution to match the new stipend amounts. We’re very grateful that the overwhelmingly majority of them immediately responded positively.





sponsorship increase

 Khulekani, Derek von Wissell, and Pastor Kenneth Jefferson
   
Young Heroes Sponsor Visits Family (January 30, 2009)
 
   

This week, Young Heroes had the pleasure of taking a sponsor from the U.S. to meet his family in KaZenzile, a small community at Kubuta in the Shiselweni region. Terry Anderson arranged to see the Ntjakala family through the Young Heroes community contact, Make Simelane. Terry is sponsoring two girls, Tengetile and Hloniphile, for food and clothing.

Local Member of Parliament Bheki Mkhonta, eagerly joined Young Heroes to witness our interventions in his area. Among the families visited was the Mabuzas, in which a grandmother of 70 years of age cares for a four-year-old boy. Gogo Mabuza shares a dilapidated house with him and two other children – a common occurrence in this community, which has an HIV prevelance of 81%. Because of that, almost all the families in Zenzile are caring for at least one orphan. The children travel about ten kilometers to attend school at Ebenezar Primary or Ekuphakameni High.

Young Heroes has enrolled five families in this community; they are all getting some sponsorship. However, more help is needed as some of the families are only sponsored partially.




Terry and his Family
   
School Fees a Problem in Nhlalabantfu and Elsewhere (January 27, 2009)
 
   

Young Heroes has 16 families enrolled in Nhlalabantfu in the Shilselweni region. All the children have lost both parents and some of them are living in child-headed households. Seven families have obtained Young Heroes sponsorships to date.  

During a recent site visit, the most common problem that families expressed was the unavailability of money for school fees. They reported that they’ve registered for the government bursary for orphans, but did not get the assistance. Obviously, though government and NGOs have done considerable work in the education sector, but more help is still needed. Our Community Contact, Mr. Nhlabatsi, said it is a huge challenge because school fees are getting more expensive each year.  

Some of the children were forced to drop out of school last year during the third term as they were periodically sent home to collect school fees. Seeing that there was no money, they decided to stay home. In some parts of the country, those who sat for their final examinations did not receive their results because they owe the school. It is uncertain that they’ll be allowed back for this school year while still owing.  Still we hope for better this year, as people press for the government to make children from child-headed families a priority in the bursary program so that they can be empowered to break the poverty cycle.  

In the near future, Young Heroes will post news of a pilot education program that we are starting in three schools, so that we too can help to address this vital issue.






Celucolo

Celucolo (now out of school)