Sophakama has its roots deep in the Joe Slovo community going back to 1999 when Namhla Sineke, Founder and Director, began her search for volunteers to assist with an aftercare programme for children at the Joe Slovo Primary School. Whilst her initial focus was on Orphans and Vulnerable children (OVCs), Namhla soon realised that dealing with the child was only a small part of the broader issues impacting on families and that often a child was coping with a sick or dying parent at home thus the support was expanded to include home based care.
Through various community-based workshops, Namhla managed to get volunteers who were prepared to work as home based carers as well as in the aftercare programme at the school i.e. cooking and supervising children in the afternoons. Although a high turnover of volunteers was common as volunteers were often working for no financial reward, a core group of 5 carers became the backbone of Sophakama.
Sophakama operated on an informal basis from 1999 until 2003 when formal funding was established and the organization then gained formal registration. The programmes and services offered by Sophakama expanded over the years and now include home-based care services, peer education focusing on HIV/Aids, after care support programmes for at risk children, adult and children’s support groups, formal and non-formal education interventions, gardening programmes, feeding, life-skills training, sports and recreational activities and birth registration and access to social grants campaigns.
From humble beginnings, Sophakama has emerged as a well-respected organisation that makes a difference to the lives of community members in Joe Slovo.