Sizanani Outreach Programme (SOP) is the Nardini Sisters’ humanitarian and medical response to poverty, illness and unemployment in the Nkandla District, which is located in the KwaZulu Natal province of the Republic of South Africa. The SOP work of the sisters in adult education, vocational training and nutritional initiatives had its origin at the Sizanani Centre, which was established in 1976. Over time, the programme evolved in order to address the needs of the community.
During the 1990’s, the Sisters who were employed as medical professionals at Nkandla Hospital witnessed daily the devastating effects of a virus that was sweeping across the region. The consequences of HIV/AIDS were far reaching, exasperating the already extreme levels of poverty in this very rural community. The compromised immune systems of those affected limited their ability to work, thus eventually eliminating their ability to seek already scarce sources of income. Their weak bodies were unable to manage otherwise routine chores and activities necessary for sustenance. The impact of HIV/AIDS on children was most concerning. Little ones became the caregivers of their sick and dying parents. Too often, the eldest children in the family, regardless of age, had to assume the role of parent, a role they would have to carry on after their parents passed away.
In 2001, the Nardini Sisters responded to this crisis by converting the Sizanani Centre to serve as a home for children orphaned, abused or abandoned until they could be placed with relatives or in foster care. The aim of the Sizanani Care Centre is to integrate orphans and vulnerable children, whenever possible, into their own extended families. However, when family structures have fallen apart or are nonexistent, the Sizanani Care Centre offers a safe place for children until alternative, acceptable solutions are found. Today, the Sizanani Care Centre is home to as many as 30 children at any given time. Many of the children at Sizanani are HIV positive and are receiving medical treatment. All of the children benefit from living in this caring environment, where they receive the love, support, proper nutrition and the educational opportunities they need to live lives filled with hope.
In 2005, the Nardini Sisters continued to respond to the needs of the community by initiating the Sizanani Outreach Programme (SOP), a mobile outreach programme delivering home based care, counselling, HIV-testing, peer education, social, medical, and legal services as well as programmes that alleviate poverty and promote economic sustainability to families throughout the region. The SOP healthcare providers, social workers and community caregivers work together to take needed services to individuals and families in their homes or via outlying service points (e.g. schools and community venues). SOP works with and supports community based networks, collaborating closely with government departments, local government, traditional leadership, churches, and community organisations in the Nkandla area.
Dr. Lindner, hires four caregivers to conduct home visits as antiretroviral treatment becomes available in Nkandla.
Sizanani Outreach Programme is established in order to provide a mobile response to the HIV pandemic. Training begins.
Sizanani Child and Youth Care Centre (SCYCC) is officially registered with the Department of Social Development.
Sizanani Outreach Programme celebrates 10 years of service to the community of Nkandla, South Africa.