The ARK Model

Category 1

NOAH works at franchising community-based models of orphan care through which motivated individuals from communities are guided to set up an infrastructure of accountable and synergistic support armed with the skills and confidence to care for their orphaned and vulnerable (OVC) children.

NOAH has developed a 10-step program allowing motivated individuals and leaders from a community to set up their own network of care for their OVC. This network is known as an Ark. Each Ark consists of an elected community committee of stakeholders who then recruit a team of volunteers and both undergo training in the core NOAH modules. These volunteers are equipped with the skills and confidence to provide a network of care within their communities. Finally the model provides for the possibility of a community-owned resource center in order to expand the access to services available to these OVC. The model is designed to be cost effective, sustainable and capable of being rolled out throughout South Africa and within every community.

Arks comprise two things -- community leaders and trained volunteers providing the following services:

o Registration
o Home visits
o Accessing grants
o Starting food garden
o A feeding scheme

Arks are networks, not buildings. It all depends on what is available in the community. However, some Arks do have centers, manned by staff and which are an additional component to an Ark and provide additional services such as day care and after school care.

These center facilities are run by paid NOAH staff from the community. As the community develops, it is encouraged to take over greater responsibility and initiative in providing for their OVC. NOAH maintains strong monitoring and financial controls and oversight.

Goal of the Practice
  • NOAH's overall goal is to support communities to improve the quality of life of orphaned and vulnerable children and their families, and to sustain their health, education and economic status.
Core Components
  • Arks with no center consist of a committee and volunteer network and provide a minimum of three NOAH services to children, i.e. registration, access to grants, counseling and home visits and food gardens.
  • Some Arks have a satellite office (usually a container or something similar) from which volunteer activities are coordinated. These provide the same services as mentioned above. Community feedback suggests that the existence of a satellite office allows communities to feel that the project really does "exist".
  • Other Arks have office space, and also offer feeding schemes that provided the additional service of nutritional support to children.
  • There are also Arks that operate full resource centres, i.e. ones which are housed in a building of sorts and which coordinate volunteer activities, provide nutritional support and a day care / after care program.
Noteworthy Results
  • Arks support more than 29,000 orphans and vulnerable children in communities in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and Gauteng Provinces. Presently support is delivered by 107 community Arks through a network of over 686 Ark committee members, 829 volunteers and 649 full-time staff members (October 2008 figures).
Lessons Learned
  • NOAH's emphasis is on building Arks as opposed to resource centres, to reach all OVC in need. Given that Arks can provide at least three services to children, these are not only far reaching in impact, but also sustainable. Centers consume huge resources and require significant, ongoing mentoring and management of staff. They also directly contribute to a massive drop-off in volunteer activity as soon as they are active, since staff are seen as "winners" in a context of huge unemployment and volunteers as "losers."
  • The key to success lies in a group effort from the community, government, corporations and NGOs alike, and effective planning and organization. The sheer number of OVC precludes traditional charitable or institutional models of care. Only a model rooted in teaching and empowering communities to care for their own OVC has any chance of being sustainable, and of being scaled to the size required. has any chance of being sustainable, and of being scaled to the size required.
  • For the NOAH approach to be sustainable, companies, individuals and the government must play a role in supporting care givers though grants and payments.
Focus Areas
Implemented By
Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity (NOAH)
Participating Organization
  • National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW)
  • Department of Social Development (KZN)
  • Department of Social Development (Gauteng)
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • The Rob Smetherham Bereavement Service for Children (KZN)
  • MySchool/MyVillage
  • Ntataise (Gauteng)
  • Project Build (KZN)
  • GoLD
  • Harvard University (initiative led by Charles Deutsch)
  • Rotary International (SA)
  • Clamber Club (Gauteng)
South Africa
Target Population
  • Adolescents (ages 13-17)
  • Children (ages 2-12)
  • Infants (newborn to 24 months)
25000 - 50000
Implementation Years
01/2010 - ongoing