Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS)
GEMS reaches out to support vulnerable children
Investing in the future through Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre
A centre that supports vulnerable children is receiving a boost through a donation from the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) as part of its annual corporate social investment initiative.
Dwaleni community member Angel Dzimba identified the need for a feeding programme to assist vulnerable children in her area, outside White River in Mpumalanga, and founded the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre which operates out of a room in her own home.
“We came to hear about Angel’s work from our GEMS Client Liaison Office in Nelspruit, and we were so touched and inspired by this project that we have decided to make the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre the beneficiary of GEMS corporate social investment project for the year,” explains Dr Guni Goolab, Principal Officer of GEMS.
In partnership with registered non-profit organisation Sinani, the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre is already making a significant impact on the lives of some 160 children, aged between three and 18 years, providing them with nutritious meals and helping them with their homework, and Angel has ambitious plans to enhance the lives and potential of the children of Dwaleni further.
“Education and nutrition are important foundations for building a better life, and Angel has put considerable time and energy into helping children to grow their potential. For those from child-headed households, Angel and her team provide adult guidance and support that encourages these young people to never lose hope as they reach for a more prosperous future,” Dr Goolab notes.
“This community-based initiative is making a positive contribution in an area that is home to many GEMS members and their families, and is part of the social fabric that is the backbone of the community. It is our privilege to support Angel’s work so that the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre can do more to support the holistic wellness of the children it serves.
“These fertile young minds represent the future, and each one of them has boundless potential. Investing in these children is one of the surest ways to help uplift this community, and contribute to a better tomorrow for our country as a whole,” he adds.
When identifying a project for its annual corporate social investment outreach, GEMS considers various aspects to ensure that the funds are put to the best possible use, so that the benefit can be maximised through empowering others to reach their potential.
GEMS donated building materials for the construction of an extension to the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre, which will include a life skills area, covered open-plan area, crèche, office, storeroom, sickbay and kitchen. Fencing, as well as rainwater tanks and water pumps were also donated to ensure availability of water because the centre is not connected to bulk services.
The construction began in June this year and it is anticipated that the building will be completed in September, depending on weather conditions.
“We have committed to donating washing machines so that the children can have clean clothing, which is not only hygienic and healthy, but also helps to achieve a greater sense of self-respect and confidence.
“GEMS is also donating fridges and freezers to assist the centre to keep the food for the children fresher for longer, which will help to make the feeding scheme more sustainable because it is cheaper to buy food in bulk. We trust that the kitchen utensils, crockery, tables and chairs that we are providing will also help to make this centre even more homely for these deserving children,” Dr Goolab says.
Craig Rebro, executive director of Sinani, says that Sinani has been associated with Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre for two years and has been deeply impressed by Angel’s dedication to uplifting her community. He expressed Sinani’s gratitude for the contribution GEMS is making in supporting the centre’s work.
“Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre has been struggling to care for the most vulnerable children in Dwaleni for at least four years. Angel and her team have faithfully continued to find ways to take care of the children, even in the most difficult times. The building of this centre is going to make a world of difference to the safety and development of the children it serves and for this community,” Rebro says.
On 1 August, Dr Goolab, the Scheme’s Board of Trustees and GEMS staff members visited the construction site to see how work on the centre is progressing. “We are pleased to see how well the work is getting on, and it is a pleasure to meet some of the children who Angel and her team of care workers support, and who will benefit from the improvements to the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre,” he says.
Once the construction is complete, the centre will be better capacitated to help more children and, in addition to supporting their education through assistance with homework, the Drop-In Centre will teach basic life skills to empower the children with information that will help them to live healthier lives.
“We look forward to the completion of this project and seeing the Umalusi Omuhle Drop-In Centre grow from strength to strength. We encourage Angel and her care workers, as well as the Sinani non-profit organisation, to keep up the excellent work that they are doing, and to continue to be a shining example to the children, the community and the country as a whole,” Dr Goolab concluded.