It was the late 1990’s in the Cato Manor clinic and she had again come face to face with a sickly and skeletal baby with young teenage mother both ravaged by the effects of HIV/AIDS and heard the mothers’ desperate plea “please Ma, who will look after my baby?”
iThemba Lethu meaning ‘I have a destiny’ was founded in November 2000 by Professor Anna Coutsoudis (on the right in the photo above) and her team of seven equally bold and pioneering board members.
The heart and purpose of the organisation was, and still is, to bring hope through God’s destiny for vulnerable and orphaned babies, children and youth threatened by the effects of HIV/AIDS, by building resilient and permanent families through reunification, adoption and life skills education.
- Opened 2 transition homes in Manor Gardens for 6 babies in each home
- Created the first Breastmilk Bank in South Africa
- Developed a 5 year Life Skills Curriculum with auxiliary Parent/Caregiver Programme for pre-adolescent learners aged 10 – 18 years old
In June 2015, after 15 years at the helm, Anna handed the Chairperson reigns to Mark Slaughter (on the left in the photo above) , an equally courageous warrior with a passion to protect and empower God’s people. Anna’s mandate to Mark “create jobs and strengthen Fatherhood”. Mark, supported by an equally valiant Governing Body have been taking the organisation into new ground and key goals and objectives include:
- Employing a married couple (mother and father) as house parents for transition homes vs a single housemother
- Updating Year 1 of the 5 year life skills curriculum in collaboration with other NGO partners and increase use of technology links and resources
- Implementing a Trinitarian Leadership Model for effective internal management and transparent governance (Marketing, Operations and Admin/Finance)
- Development of Self Help Groups for Parent/Caregiver income generating projects
- Initiating the creation of a company Emfuleni Enterprise Development with iThemba Lethu as the 100% shareholder
The primary calling remains “to take care of the orphans and widows in their times of distress” James 1 vs 27