The organization

The idea of starting an organization for single mothers emerged from  Beatrice Bitchong who realised that her house helpers and those of the neighbours were single mothers struggling to meet many of their needs and those of their children. Beatrice first started to support these helpers by paying their children school fees  mothers. Beatrice bitchong also realised that the government and external bodies are so much concentrated on HIV awareness projects and medecine for HIV  patients that there is little provision for significant others of HIV patients and other AIDS driving problems such as teen preganancy. Beatrice shared the idea of starting an NGO that will help single mothers with several friends. In Junuary 2009 the group started the self help project and  eventually registered the organisation under charity number R7/32407 in october 2009.

The Swaziland Single Mothers Organization (Swasmo) is a non profit organization that aims at improving the living conditions of low income single mothers (including teen mothers) so that they can be healthy and self-reliant. It is currently run by a committee. Manzini Region is our centre of service delivery. Depending of our resources we intend to extend in the future our services nationwide. Our main goals are the following:

  • To promote a positive and supportive attitudes towards teen mothers and single mothers
  • To prevent teen pregnancies, sexual diseases including HIV/AIDS
  • To enable single mothers and teen mothers to cope with the situation
  • To influence public and social policies that affect teen mothers and their children
  • To ensure a healthy single mother

One of the main causes of single motherhood in Swaziland is early pregnancies. In general women who started bearing children at an earlier age are often stigmatized and therefore men are reluctant to get married to them. In 2007 an alarming 45 % of women were either mother or pregnant with their first child by age 19 in Swaziland (Swaziland Demographic survey 2007) and 30 % of girls aged 15- 19 were either pregnant or have their first child in 2006 alone. In addition 70 % of adult population is not in stable family unions while 36 % of kids grow up only with their mothers.

One of SWASMO’s main strengths is that there is no organisation focusing in meeting the needs of teen mothers and young single mothers in Swaziland despite the above mentioned statistics. Although the government supports the widows, little is done to support teen mothers as well as other single mothers. Dlamini, Merwe, Ehlers (2003) in their study in Swaziland underlines that 100 % (37) of the teenage mothers who participated in the study did not have support from any organization or government.  The volunteers have helped very much in starting the first group of single mothers and continue to support in expanding the groups.

Our main weakness so far is the financial aspect. We are working hard in raising funds from individuals and organization. Raising funds from individuals is very difficult in Swaziland as the discrimination against teen mothers is very high in Swaziland and people tend to blame them for being “naughty” and the responsibility mainly rest on the girls. In Dlamini & al study, the participants mentioned that they were rejected from relatives, schools and others institutions. All of them were unemployed and out of school.

Our organization is still in the beginning. We intend to do a SWOT analysis to analyse our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats after at least 3 years in order to develop strategic planning and improve our organisation.

For now Swasmo aims to focus mainly on counselling, community work, sexual and HIV education and job training. We use a participatory and a people centred approach in delivering our services. Manzini Region is our centre of service delivery. Depending of our resources we intend to extend our services nationwide. The organization is still at it early stage and has started with a community work project. The project is presently run by volunteers and financially supported by good will of individuals.

Structure

Swasmo is a women organization that focuses on improving the living conditions of single mothers (especially young mothers) and teen mothers with their kids. The organization is still at it early stage and is run by a management committee: 

Sebenzile Nxumalo: She is the secretary/Administrator of the Foundation for socio economic Justice and is her self a single mother.

 Zanele: She  has a bachelor in social Sciences and has worked with organizations such as World Vision and family life Association. She is currently a self-employed and helps SWASMO now and again as a volunteer.

 Dumsile Mavuso: She has a diploma in community development and is presently the Secretary of the association of diabetic people in Swaziland.

Adviser: Dr Kinsala: He works at RFM and helps very much with management advices

Financial adviser: Mr Thulani 

Programme manager: Beatrice Bitchong: has a bachelor in social work from the University of South Africa and is about to complete a master in public health. Beatrice has been involved with Christian youth groups and charity groups when she was adolescent where she has acquired managerial skills when occupying functions of regional responsible of these groups. She worked as a secretary and French teacher and community worker before focusing on SWASMO as she realized that there was a need to help single mothers and teen mothers.

Swasmo focuses mainly on economic strategies for a sustainable livelihood advocacy and human rights and HIV/AIDS, sexuality and reproduction as well as other life skills necessary for empowerment. In January 2009 we conducted our first action group of 20 single mothers in one the poorest area of Manzini town. The project also served as a pilot project. The project was very successful as the group members were able to explore their environment and come up with several income generative projects. The group members have also gained management skills and other skills such as artchar making, crocheting. ADRA (Adventist Development and relief agency) is currently in the process of training several members as lay counsellors in HIV/AIDS. Because of the success that we had from this project, we intend to multiply such groups (4 per year) in Manzini poorest townships. We are also in partnership with World vision (under AMICAALL) in providing skills on HIV/AIDS and small financial skills.

Manzini is the industrial town of Swaziland. For a start we focus on Manzini town because 60 % of teen mothers and single young mothers live in Manzini poorest areas, besides very few organisations work with these communities. In Makholweni where we had our pilot group for example, no NGO was found there.

Our main approach in creating action groups in community is the participatory approach in which women participate from planning, implementation to management and evaluation of their projects. The main challenge that we have in meeting this goal is that communities have been used with the old approach of receiving direct funds from organizations. Therefore the expectations are often very high in the beginning with women wanting to start big projects that will generate plenty of money. However with the people centred approach skills we are able to overcome the challenge.

In the future we intend to strengthen the “action groups for single mothers’ project” also called “self-help groups” and reinforce the counselling programme by introducing educational groups on sexuality and reproduction and life skills groups for adolescent girls and boys. We are also planning to organise workshop with nurses and other relevant professionals to promote a friendly approach when dealing with pregnant teenagers. Moreover, we intent to organise campaigns with the aim to encourage teen mothers to go for prenatal consultations, we also intent to support teen mothers providing with professional training and educating them in sexual and reproductive health.

Overall objectives 

To enable single mothers and teen mothers to cope with the situation by:

  • counselling them
  • Supporting the children (financial and material support).
  • Training them for jobs and helping them to get a job
  • Helping them to be aware of their environment and take their lives into their hands
  • Helping them to start income generative projects or other community projects beneficial to them and their communities
  • counselling them through out the pregnancy up to delivery
  • ensuring that they have the basic necessary material, food and clothes for themselves and their babies during delivery
  • encouraging them to do prenatal consultations and all the examinations necessary for their health and the health or their babies.

To promote a positive and supportive attitudes towards teen mothers by:

  • Increasing public awareness of the implications of abandoning young single mothers using mass media
  • Identifying and opposing discriminatory attitudes and practices and campaigning for positive approaches towards teen single mothers.
  • Identifying ways in which the quality of life of young single mothers can be improved and campaigning for their introduction.
  • Working with and seeking to work to influence individuals and organizations whose activities are, or could be, of benefit to teen single mothers.

To prevent teen pregnancies, sexual diseases including HIV/AIDS by:

  • using a participatory approach that consider young people needs within their environment
  • Introducing small educational groups that allow young people to critically reflect to their own situation in a safe environment.
  • Identifying and researching better ways of preventing teen pregnancies
  • Searching more appropriate ways to involve communities in sexual and reproductive health and utilizing these ways

To influence public and social policies that affect teen mothers and their children by:

  • Identifying areas where action is needed to meet the needs and aspirations of teen and young mothers.
  • Seeking to influence those who formulate policies; so that they take full account of the implication of abandoned teen mothers in all major aspects of living.

To ensure a healthy single mother by :

  • encouraging and teaching about family planning to avoid future unwanted pregnancies
  • teaching them about HIV/AIDS issues and other sexual diseases

To develop resources that will enable us to achieve the above objectives by:

  • developing an awareness and understanding of Swasmo and its need for support;
  • Securing a long term national, international and local founding needs from fund and material raising, grants the provision of training and other services.
  • Recruiting, motivating and equipping staff with the required expertise, skills and knowledge.

Proposed activities plan for 2011-2013

Looking At the above objectives, one can see that it is difficult to start at once with programs that meet all these objectives. Our plan is to start small and progress as we go on. Therefore for the next three years we will focus on enabling single mothers and teen mothers to cope with the situation, by empowering them financially and emotionally and providing to them useful life skills. In order to meet these objectives, here are the projects that will be run:

The “self help groups”: This project that has being run since January 2009. It aims to create action groups of single mothers in community. Swasmo facilitates group members to become aware of their environment and decide on a specific project that will help them to improve their conditions. The projects they come up with can be small income generative projects or other community projects such as the building of a community centre. At the same time we provide them with skills related to HIV/AIDS and sexual life as well as additional training in beading or agricultural skills that can help them to start income generative project. This project will empower them financially, emotionally and health wise as they will become the principal actors of their own lives. The method that we will use is the participatory approach to ensure ownership and self reliance.

The training of trainers: For rural communities, we intend to train people in simple skills for community development that will allow them to create self groups in their own communities with the view to take action.

Vocational training to teen mothers: In this program we intend to work in collaboration with other institutions that will provide training to the poorest single mothers. Subsequently SWASMO will provide counselling and life skills related to sexual education, social education, child nutrition etc so that these teen mothers can be wholly empowered. We intend to start with 5 teen mothers.

Counselling: We will provide individual and group counselling (where necessary)to teen mothers as well as teens who are having problems.

Other community activities: We will provide home visits to the poorest in the community with in kind support such as food, clothes etc while counselling them and where necessary encouraging them to join self health groups

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