The Gert Sibande District in Mpumalanga has the highest rate of HIV prevalence in the country – the province itself “enjoying” the dubious honour of having the second highest in all South Africa. A lack of infrastructure and large-scale industry contributes to and compounds the health challenges – and their associated consequences – for the individuals and families who reside in the area, but one non-profit has been effectively and consistently making a difference since 2000.
Providing relief services to people and families in Mpumalanga’s rural communities, the Topsy Foundation is the only organisation of its kind with an active presence in these areas. This week, the non-profit was selected as the NGO winner of a R50 000 cheque in Your Next Million, our weekly game show that not only helps individual contestants on the journey to their Next with cash prizes, but also South Africa’s integral non-government institutions.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this unexpected prize!” says Dr Ewa Skowronska, Executive Director of the Topsy Foundation. “As a non-profit, we spend a lot of time and effort on fundraising to sustain our organisation. It’s very special we are recognised for our efforts.”
The Topsy Foundation has a two-pronged approach to community upliftment, which it applies through dedicated healthcare and outreach workers in Grootvlei, Siyathemba and Nthoroane. First, the NGO works to empower families and communities to improve the care and protection of all children made vulnerable by the AIDS epidemic. As part of its original mandate, Topsy provides medical support, physical support such as food parcels, psycho-social support in the form of counselling, and spiritual support, which includes life-skills programmes.
Second, the foundation develops young children during their formative years through their province-wide Topsy Toy Library. This early childhood development (ECD) programme provides educational resources and trains educators. It’s in this sphere that the game-show cheque will make the most impact: “We’ll use this money for our ECD programme,” shares Dr Ewa. “Our aim is to provide disadvantaged rural communities with the support and tools needed to raise happy, healthy and capable children.
“Thank you, Standard Bank, for this incredible gift. It will make a real difference to the lives of children living in rural Mpumalanga.”