Bethelsdorp-based non-profit organisation, We Care, continues to uplift the destitute Northern Area’s communities of Nelson Mandela Bay nine years since inception. With the assistance of seven volunteers, founding members Pastor Donovan and Ashlene Arends are at the forefront community development initiatives which include feeding schemes, health care and skills development programmes as well as youth and senior citizen interventions.
“Our initiatives aim to empower impoverished communities to become self-sufficient, health conscious and have a range of skills. We encourage community members, be it persons infected and affected HIV/AIDS, youth, women and senior citizens to participate in our programmes,” says Arends.
Acting as a substitute for normally overcrowded clinics, We Care’s Health Care Centrum provides the community with primary health care services which includes: family planning, voluntary counselling and testing, Tuberculosis awareness programmes and other health and wellness services. The Health Care Centrum was launched in 2012 and is accredited by the Health Department as a non-medical/Anti Retro Viral (ARV) site.
Included in We Care’s healthcare initiative is a home-based care programme that offers hygiene and heath care services to senior citizens and individuals who are bed ridden or do not have the strength to make it to the centrum. Care givers have been recruited within the local community and trained by the We Care team.
Besides health care services, We Care offers entrepreneur development classes to over 30 senior citizens. Participants in the elderly support groups meet every Wednesday, where they gain skills in arts and crafts and knowledge on entrepreneurship.
We Care also offers a monthly office administration workshop which equips unemployed community members with skills that can help them secure administrative jobs. Upon successful completing of the workshop, participants also receive on-the-job training
“We continue to see positive result as an increasing number of individuals receive formal job offers from companies we partner with for the on-the-job training. We also give some participates an opportunity to work at our offices and provide them with a stipend,” adds Arends.
Every week, We Care runs a feeding scheme benefitting over 800 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) from Jacksonville, Missionvale, Arcadia, Gelvandale, Extension 21, 32 and 36. The feeding scheme runs from Monday to Friday and provides the OVC with an afterschool meal.
“Much of our programmes could not be possible without contributions from local sponsors,” says We Care’s Chief Executive Officer, Ashlene Arends.
One such sponsor is Uitenhage-based integrated poultry producer, Sovereign Foods, that has injected about R25 000 to We Care since 2015.
“We [at Soveriegn Foods] strongly believe in the upliftment of others. Hence, we continue to partner with organisations that actively make a positive contribution to destitute communities,” adds Group Executive for Human Resources at Sovereign Foods, Thuto Shongwe.
We Care is planning a Street Carnival expected to take place in September this year as a fundraising initiative.
Image: We Care CEO Ashlene Arends (right) hands over thank you placard to Sovereign Foods’ CEO Chris Coombes (middle) and Group Executive HR Thuto Shongwe (left)