Keep The Dream196 (KTD196), a not-for-profit life skills project located near Tzaneen, Limpopo, is becoming known for its positive and lasting impact on orphans and vulnerable children.
Since its inception in 2007, the organisation has been assisting local children and the youth to overcome the difficult life obstacles they face on a daily basis, through building resilience physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. The goal is to help them realise their full potential and contribute to the building of South Africa.
“As a child focused, rights-based organisation we do not believe in quick fixes when it comes to addressing the needs of children. Instead we help them to develop the skills they need to handle challenges throughout life, and I believe that is the secret to our success” explains founder and director of KTD196, Louise Batty.
KTD196 offers a comprehensive, integrated model of training, care and support for all children in the area, and particularly for orphans and vulnerable children and their caregivers. One of the most popular programmes that KTD196 runs is based on the scouts programme. Their emphasis is on the scout laws and promise to ‘do your best and help others at all times’, with a strong focus on morals and values. By all accounts, not only has the scout programme proven to be effective in preparing local youngsters to make appropriate ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes, but it is also helping build self-confidence and the knowledge and skills that can help them be more successful and productive citizens.
Other programmes offered by KTD196 include communication skills with children, group therapy, developing circles of support, children's rights and responsibilities, leadership skills and a lot more. These programmes and training appear to have been very effective in addressing challenges and issues that impact the youth in the area. For instance, the level of teenage pregnancy among girls involved in their programmes is but a fraction of provincial norms, while the level of education has greatly improved in a sense that more children from the area are passing their matric and also enrolling in tertiary institutions, unlike before.
It appears that the relationship between parents and their participating children has also improved. “Before my child joined KTD196 he was always out late at night and being a bully. I always thought he was going to turn out like most youngsters who have given up on their dreams and are wasting their lives away. Since joining KTD196 he no longer drinks and his behaviour has also changed. I ‘ve also learned to communicate with my child and not yell at him,” explains one parent, Maite Mametja.
Accessing study loans or a bursary is among the many other challenges that most youth in rural areas face. Although Lephane is among those areas impacted by this challenge, the situation has greatly improved due to the career guidance and access to study loans or bursary programmes conducted at KTD196. All this indicates significant progress that the youth in Lephane are making.
While studies show that 70 percent of students from rural backgrounds fail to cope or even complete their studies due to drugs and alcohol, lack of financial or parental support and other challenges, Batty proudly notes that this has not been the case with the kids at KTD196. “All our kids have managed to stay in school and they have been performing well, in fact most of them are well on the way to completing their studies,” she adds.
NPO Sector Facing Challenges
Despite the good work that KTD196 does, Batty points that it is never easy to run an organisation like KTD196, especially since the services and programmes are mostly provided free of charge. She says that accessing funding and getting support is a huge challenge to the organisation. Like many nonprofit organisations, KTD196 also struggles with inadequate facilities, lack of volunteers and the challenge of finding and retaining qualified staff.
“We are developmental by nature so people are our focus; we have minimal overheads apart from salaries to do this important work. We work with people who are unemployed with minimal skills, and strive to empower them to impact their own children and communities,” explains Batty.
Batty says many local adults want to work with them, but only if they get permanent work or are paid. She is striving to encourage people to volunteer at KTD196 without expectation of getting rewards in return, at least in the short-term. “The reward we will all reap is a better future for our country,” she concludes.
To learn more about the work of Keep The Dream 196 or to offer support, contact Louise Batty on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Abram Molelemane is a third year journalism student at the Tshwane University of Technology. He has written for various publications such as Wealthwise magazine and Reckord newspaper. In 2011, he was nominated for the Reckord print journalist of the year award. He is currently a media officer at Fetola.