Busisiwe Jelecia Mhlanga is passionate about caring for children and the youth who are less fortunate.
She is a child and youth care worker with the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) Risiha Programme. Mhlanga's job is to intervene and assist child-headed households.
The Risiha Programme runs across the country to assist vulnerable children and orphans, some of whom run child-headed households or live on the street.
“As child and youth care workers we are usually alerted by community members when children need help. Once we intervene, we conduct interviews with extended family members to understand what the household needs,” says Mhlanga.
She also conducts home visits and advocates for orphaned and vulnerable children as part of her duties.
Home visits include teaching children how to adapt and take care of themselves.
Mhlanga says the child and youth care workers help the children with their homework and chores to create a healthy and independent environment.
The programme also has a safe park, where children can play and enjoy various activities, such as drama, dance and poetry.
“We also do something for the children on holidays. Safe parks allow them to have a sense of belonging and sharpen their skills. The child and youth care workers use safe parks to observe children to see if there is a need for further intervention in their lives,” says Mhlanga.
Despite the closure of access points during lockdown level 5, the programme provided services to 192 741 children within their homes, the DSD says. Mhlanga also appealed to the community to infom DSD when children need help so that a child and youth care worker can intervene through the Risiha programme.
For more information about the Risiha programme call Yvonne Makhubedu at 066 480 7670, Portia Mthembu at 066 480 8979 or Joyce Ndzuta at 066 480 7245, who will direct community members to a provincial coordinator.