The Thogomelo Project, South Africa

In partnership with the South African Department of Social Development, PATH is building South Africa's capacity to care for its community caregivers and to protect children left vulnerable by the AIDS pandemic through the Thogomelo Project. The project, a five year task order under USAID’s AIDSTAR Sector I mechanism, aims to care for and protect vulnerable children by increasing the knowledge, abilities, and well-being of those who are responsible for them. With a dual focus on community caregiver support and child protection, the project incorporates the best and most promising practices from Africa, and is designed to become part of the enduring fabric of South Africa’s child protection efforts. PATH is joined by its partners Health and Development Africa, which has the technical lead for project implementation, and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, which is responsible for activities under the project’s community caregiver component.

Geographic Areas and Services

Staff Photo

The word thogomelo was chosen as it means “caring” or “taking care” in Venda, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Community caregivers are the backbone of community care for vulnerable children, yet their psychosocial well-being remains largely neglected. The Thogomelo Project addresses the often unmet psychosocial needs of caregivers and equips them to respond to child abuse, neglect, and exploitation. To build skills and competence, the team is working with the Department of Social Development to develop a nationally accredited skills development program and manual, as well as an intervention toolkit. These materials are being introduced in a cascading skills development program for community caregivers throughout South Africa. Using activity-based, participatory learning to engage a diverse range of community caregivers, the project provides guidance on a comprehensive set of topics, including strengthening relationships and community, optimizing self care, accessing and mobilizing resources, responding to child abuse and neglect, and increasing HIV/AIDS literacy. This is the first psychosocial support skills development program to be registered with the South African Qualifications Authority, thereby providing credits for learners to develop a career path towards a recognized qualification. It uniquely combines psychosocial support and child protection components to address training needs identified by learners. A second curriculum focusing on advanced child protection skills will be developed for supervisors of community caregivers during Year 2 of the project.

The Thogomelo Project is built on three core principles that aim to foster local ownership and ensure the sustainability of these efforts:

  • Embed the project in existing structures. By systematically linking with activities in the public sector and civil society, the project is building on current activities and helping to ensure sustainability.
  • Comprehensively address the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. In addition to service provision, the project is addressing the critical areas of networking and advocacy to equip community caregivers with the skills to address the needs of children at all levels.
  • Build on what works. The project is incorporating state-of-the-art thinking into project implementation. For example, the nationally accredited community caregiver training manual will complement national efforts while incorporating emerging and promising practices.

Together, these principles, activities and resources are allowing communities to care for their community caregivers, providing them with the psychosocial support and skills they need to perform their tasks well. The program is also supporting community caregivers in promoting safe and healthy families – and, in turn, improving the well being of the many children who depend on them.

Related Materials

Consolidated Report of the Rapid Assessment Phase (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Project Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.7 MB)

Project Posters (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Contact Information

Ms. Catherine Brokenshire-Scott
Country Director - South Africa PATH
PO Box 1985 Parklands 2121
Johannesburg, South Africa
Telephone: +27 11 447 1641

Ms. Naomi Hill
Project Manager
Health & Development Africa
Postnet Suite 129
Private Bag X 7
Parkview 2122
South Africa
Telephone: +27 11 484 8217