Rays of Hope, a non-profit organization based in Alexandra, Johannesburg, is hoping to raise R1 million to grow its team of social workers who play a pivotal role in empowering vulnerable residents who live in the township
“When you’re sick, a doctor can assess the problem and give you a diagnosis and prescription, and when you’re struggling emotionally, you can speak to a good friend or even a psychologist,” explains Bertha Muchadeyi, Social Work and Vulnerable Programmes Manager at Rays of Hope.
“But who do you speak to when life happens, and you don’t know who to turn to for help or where to find the practical information you need to get your life back on track?
“That’s where social workers come in – they are specially trained professionals who can think critically about challenges and design and implement solutions that are relevant to each person’s needs so that they can overcome the challenges they face,” she says.
The demand for social workers is enormous in a South African context, where unemployment, gender-based violence, sexuality and teenage pregnancy plague our society. Despite this, many people facing these challenges do not know what social workers can do for them or even how to find one.
While Rays of Hope has expanded its social worker pool to serve the Alexandra community, the need is much greater than the funding available to support it – despite the fact that many of its social workers provide their services for free.
“We also believe that social workers should earn more than the R5,000 that is common within environments like Alexandra, making our goal a dual one: that of employing more social workers to support the community, and of paying them a salary that recognises their skill and importance,” she adds.
By employing more social workers in Alexandra, they can help everyone in the community build a better future, whether that is by counselling families in mental and physical health, connecting indigent families with aid organizations, assisting them in overcoming addictions, or providing job opportunities and skill training.
Rays of Hopes has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to help cover their running costs, which is estimated to be R1 Million this year alone.
Securing much needed funds, will allow the organization to expand its resources and assist more individuals in the community.
“So many of Alexandra’s residents are stuck in the same cycles of gender-based violence, unemployment, and poverty that their parents and grandparents were,” Bertha says. “We know that a dedicated team of social workers can help break these cycles and give people the tools, knowledge and confidence that they need to move beyond the legacies of this township.
“We’re appealing to Johannesburg’s people – most of whom engage with an Alex resident every day of their lives – to help make this a reality. No contribution is too small, and every contribution will help make a positive difference to this community, to their future, and to the future of the city,” John Shuttleworth, interim CEO of Rays of Hope, adds.
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