James 1:27 Trust:  An ICT initiative helping orphans in South Africa


untitledChildren becoming orphans due to HIV/AIDS deaths is an unfortunate tragedy that still continues till this day in South Africa.  Although many people in the country respond to this epidemic with openness and sympathy, the reality is that this is still a sensitive topic to many- this often results in people choosing to be silent about such matters.  After learning about James 1:27 Trust based at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria and the work they do to assist orphans either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, I couldn’t resist breaking the silence.

Founded by Robert Botha, the James 1:27 Trust is a registered public benefit organization which cares for orphans and vulnerable children within the context of HIV.  The Trust focuses on empowering communities by providing them with an e-commerce platform made for communities to sell care services, not only to the rest of the country but to the international community too.  This is done mostly through technology and e-commerce.  Not only is the organization providing business solutions in the Information Technology sphere, but it is also acts as a social enterprise working towards common good- addressing issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

 “We are constantly innovating—working on ways to care for more children, creating systems to manage delivery of holistic care to children, developing means to involve the global community”

The non-profit organization’s roots are based on a strong view that it is the responsibility of ordinary people to take care of orphans and not only a duty that should be left for the authorities. The Trust thus practises “virtual adoption”, linking underprivileged families with suitable sponsors.

In most cases, orphans and abandoned children are usually left with no-one giving them “the talk” when going through adolescence. The team from James 1:27 go as far as educating orphans in their teenage years about the risks of unprotected sex, teenage pregnancy and HIV.

The organization typically works with feeding schemes and primary schools, depending on principals and teachers to identify school children showing signs of stress and vulnerability.  This is then followed by further assessments involving child development index and social worker reports.  Through that process, they select the most vulnerable children and families to work with.  They develop care plans for the children based on those evaluations, care plans which are administered on a care management platform that allows effective control and monitoring.

Speaking to Nunnovation journalist Sisathi Nomatye about their approach, Mr Robert Botha added, “Instead of taking little resources and spreading them over lots of families, we would rather focus on practising holistic care properly with fewer children.  We believe that to change lives, you first have to build a family and to build a family, you have to transform the community.”

Nunnovation has identified the team from James 1:27 Trust as perception shifters and activists of social good. To choose not to take the back seat and point fingers, instead choosing to take responsibility for fellow citizens living in poor conditions is an achievement on its own.