ASAP is excited to announce the opening of two new community drop-in centres, Mamohau and Itekeng Batswadi! The orphans in the villages are now assured of a hot meal and their essential needs being met.

As ASAP founder, Priscilla Higham explains, “Community care centres are crucial to the ASAP model. Unlike orphanages, drop in centres keep the children in their communities and keep families intact.” Each centre offers services addressing nearly every aspect of children’s lives. Local women have received specialized training and are providing daily nutrition, early childhood development and planting and caring for the organic gardens. In addition, the centres host grandmother support groups, where “gogos” can share a weekly meal, make crafts, and receive AIDS education. The crafting has become an income generating activity for the grandmothers and has created a much needed support network for the women. There is also a new youth initiative offering holiday programmes focusing on self-esteem, child and women’s rights, sexual rights and goal setting.

To build these centers in such remote rural communities, is to build them quite literally from scratch. Villagers, with help from an organization named HAPPI (Homeless and Poor People’s Initiative) gather local grasses to create thatching, and bake mud bricks in the sun. The resulting buildings are affordable, sustainable, and have a carbon footprint that is 80% smaller than a comparably sized modern cement structure. What’s more, the finished centres are a thing of beauty — each is painted to resemble a Sotho blanket.