Born in Africa: chances for kids in South-Africa
Born in Africa (BIA) is a small-scale Belgian organisation, active in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, which is trying to create chances for children in a few of the many townships of South Africa. Born in Africa is founded and guided by Isabelle De Smul-Brink. In the summer of 2004, I – Remco Kalf – have met Isabelle during a period of volunteering in the school of the township of Kurland, where BIA is active. I was very impressed with the hopeless situation a lot of children are in, and the good work that is being done by Born in Africa.
Inspired by the passion of Isabelle for her work, we would like you to get to know her organisation a little bit more:
BIA is an organization, which is completely independent of any political or religious authority. Our main purpose is to support the children’s rights, and to assist with their education. At the moment we are active in three primary schools (Harkerville, Wittedrift and Crags), one secondary school (Plett) and one crèche (Qolweni) in the greater Plettenberg Bay area.
A video of BIA (Dutch spoken):
We provide free education, individual counselling, holiday activities and camps for the BIA children as well as we run an after school care program for all the children in the schools where we are active. We also visit their homes on a regular basis to keep in touch with their family situation, and monitor the general health of our kids. When needed we arrange doctor’s appointments and transport to hospitals.
For the daily running of BIA, we have several qualified social workers / counsellors, a coordinator, a project manager, and two after-school teachers. We also work very closely with our team of dedicated Belgian volunteers, who come to South Africa, at their own cost, to assist us with these children. The work we do is made possible with the assistance of sponsors, the majority of which are Belgian. The godparents each pay a certain amount of money per year, which goes towards the education and upliftment of their “adopted child”.
Some pictures taken in Kurland, summer of 2004:
The Born in Africa vision
“The children’s rights are now fully part of the Human Rights Declaration but this is not enough to ensure their implementation in the daily life of all the children. We, Born in Africa, want to help to change this situation, by supporting and protecting the Children Rights. One of our main long term objectives is to help create a South African middle class. In our eyes that goal can only be reached by investing in childhood development and education.‘Born in Africa’ believes that every child has the right to a decent and complete school education. Every child has the right to have a dream, to choose his study orientation according to his dreams and to find a job that will fit him.
We believe that this process starts during the earliest stage of life, that is why we focus our activities around the children. We select, with the help of the school teachers and social workers, the very underprivileged but still motivated children, and assist these children by paying their school fees, buying their uniforms, jerseys, rain jackets, shoes and tracksuits. The general aim of the selection procedure is to find those children who are motivated to learn something, who have a positive attitude, and who have little chance to complete their school career without the support of Born in Africa. BIA believes that if we want to achieve our long term objectives, it is very important to work with the parents so they can support our work with their children. This has not been an easy task. The problems with the parents include drugs and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and issues that have to be seen at a higher management level. At our level, we know that we will not be able to solve all the problems but we are networking to involve the whole community in this fight against poverty and its consequences on health, education and the economy in general. This is the way we have chosen to bring our stone to the development of South Africa.”