Children living in Alexandra Township face a myriad of daily struggles, from food insecurity and malnutrition to poor access to educational opportunities and basic living requirements – shelter and security being major needs that are often unmet. Child sponsorship presents a much-needed solution to these struggles that young people face, not to mention the impact that supporting one child can have on wider communities.

Bertha Muchadeyi, Family and Social Services Leader at Alexandra-based NPO, Rays of Hope, says that the the lives of the beneficiaries of its Sponsor a Child initiative in Alex have changed dramatically since being on the programme.

“We have young people who started with the programme a few years ago and are now pursuing studies and careers in a range of professional fields, where they probably would have ended up on the streets, pregnant at a young age or worse, had it not been for the support they received,” she says.

“Children in township are a product of their environments, and the reality is that if their circumstances do not change, they will only end up repeating the same cycles of poverty, crime, abuse and more that plague communities like Alex.”

Julius Mabunda is an Alex resident who became a beneficiary of Sponsor a Child and other Rays of Hope support programmes in 2018 when he was in Grade 11. “At the time I was dealing with tough living conditions and I was stressed about achieving the education I was dreaming of pursuing,” he says.

Through the support of the Sponsor a Child programme, which provided Mabunda and his family with food parcels every month as well as uniforms and stationery in additon to tuition in maths, English, and other subjects, he is now studying at Tswane University of Technology and plans to become a 3D designer. He is also volunteering with Rays of Hope in his free time as a way to not only ‘pay it forward’ but to boost his work experience.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the friendly staff members at Rays of Hope and programmes like Sponsor a Child, Ithemba Labntwana, and RoseAct Saturday School, and it would have been even tougher if we never received the support every month,” he adds.

The Sponsor a Child programme covers the educational, nutritional, social, and health needs of one child beneficiary for a month. The programme benefits young children in the ECD (early childhood development) phase starting at just three years old, up to teens in grade 11.

With sponsors such as Old Mutual actively participating in the programme and supporting its beneficiaries, Rays of Hope invites other corporate sponsors to take part too by building the Sponsor a Child initiaitive into their annual CSI budgets and efforts. Individuals, friend groups and businesses can also sponsor a deserving child in need from Alex from just R1,000 a month.

“Sponsoring just one child in Alex makes a difference for the entire community and the country at large. Empowering just one learner to get an education by providing dignity through a daily meal, new school clothes and shoes, and extra learning support has a profound ripple effect for the people around them, their families and the wider community,” says Muchadeyi.

To find out more about the various age catergories and details of sponsoring a child in Alex, visit https://raysofhope.co.za/sponsor/.