Bathabile (NPO 061-969) is non-profit organisation that aims to uplift, empower and set free poverty stricken families and children, as well as those impacted by HIV/AIDS in Johannesburg informal settlements.

Levels of poverty and unemployment in South Africa are critically high, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic is proving to be most catastrophic at household level.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as one person living on less than US$ 1 per day. This equates to approximately R 240.00 per person per month.

Africa has become a continent of orphans — an estimated 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers are expected to reach 20 million in the next four years. It is estimated that there are 2.5 million orphaned children in South Africa alone.

At the centre of this crisis, gogos (grandmothers) have proved to be the pillars of strength who keep families together. They have lost a generation of their own children, and then in what should be their golden years, they raise their grandchildren with little or no support.

These extraordinary women have no time to grieve their devastating loss, as all their energy is directed at feeding, clothing, educating and loving the children who are left behind. R 940.00 a month does not go far when there are many mouths to feed.

Of a population of 46 million people in South Africa, 48.5% of people were living in extreme poverty in 2002 with current figures likely to be worse:

“Rising food prices are bound to worsen the already unacceptable level of food deprivation suffered by millions of people.
We are facing the risk that the number of hungry will increase by many more millions of people.” – Hafez Ghanem, assistant director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The lack of a social security net and high levels of unemployment in South Africa mean that poor households and communities slip further and further into poverty and deprivation. If extended family networks and communities are to continue to play a role in keeping families together, it is essential that the poverty stricken care givers receive social and material support.