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A range of initiatives are part of the project,
including the free medical care, assistance with
access to education, including pre-school, and counselling

Sadly, South Africa has one of the world’s highest HIV and AIDS infection rates. This has affected many people in the area in which Topsy South Africa operates.

One result of this disease is that in economically stretched households, family members, despite the best intentions, may not be able to care adequately for orphans. Faced with this problem, Topsy started the OVC project. This includes offering relevant assistance to families who have taken in orphaned children who are their relatives, and on empowering the family to cope with the situation.

To participate in parts of the programme, families have to show that their combined monthly household income does not exceed 680 Rand (about £45) per person, which ensures that only the neediest families receive this critical support. For example, Topsy’s social workers help prospective participants to obtain the relevant documentation. They visit them weekly to determine the needs of the family and of the orphans. Free medical care is offered. Participating families are also required to develop their own vegetable gardens to supplement the food packs they receive – a key to strengthening their sense of commitment to the project. Improving pre-school education is a central part of the programme: further details can be found in the section ECD.

Some of the families participating in the project may be headed by children. In the absence of any adult members of the extended family to help out, the oldest child sometimes has to take on the role of parent. The OVC project does all it can to prevent any child having to act as the head of a household. When it is unable to prevent it, Topsy will give particular support to any children in this position, to enable them to continue their education, while exercising responsibility for the care of their younger siblings.

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