Our Mission

one of the Philani children

Philani Fund USA, Inc. is a public charity whose mission is to raise funds for and make grants to the South African Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Project (Philani). Philani is a non-profit, community-based organization that provides health and nutrition services to children, pregnant women and mothers in the informal communities around Cape Town, South Africa and in the rural Eastern Cape Province. In addition to a network of community outreach workers, Philani runs nutrition rehabilitation centers, medical and dental clinics, and preschool programs for children, as well as skills training and support programs to help mothers gain financial independence and give them the power to make their own decisions about their lives.

Since 1979, Philani has been working in the townships near Cape Town, where an estimated one million people live in simple houses or make-shift dwellings in communities of concentrated poverty and high unemployment, resulting in malnutrition and poor health in its residents. Since 2010, Philani has also been working in the rural and extremely poor Eastern Cape Province, where villages are far apart, transportation infrastructure is poor, travel is arduous and health services are difficult to access; the rural Eastern Cape has the highest levels of infant mortality in South Africa. To find out more about the Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Project and its programs, please click on the link to its website at http://www.philani.org.za/ or Philani’s 2014 Annual Report at http://www.philani.org.za/who-we-are/annualreports/.

Philani’s current major initiative is the Mentor Mothers Program, a successful maternal and child health intervention program that takes maternal and child health, including rehabilitation of malnourished children, into homes and communities. Mentor Mothers are women who have been successful in raising their own children in the community, and who demonstrate maturity, commitment, basic literacy and an understanding of health and social issues. Mentor Mothers are trained by Philani to go door to door identifying malnourished children, and then help them and their families with health, nutrition and early childhood development services. They assist local mothers through their pregnancies and help family members obtain government grants for which they are eligible. An evaluation of the effectiveness of the Philani Mentor Mothers Program in the urban Western Cape has been undertaken by UCLA and Stellenbosch University and has shown better health outcomes for women and children; malnutrition rates in intervention areas were half those in control areas. An evaluation of the rural initiative is now under way. The Mentor Mothers Program has been expanded to Swaziland and Ethiopia. The Mentor Mothers Program provides a successful model for integrating community health workers into a multilevel health system, for adoption as health policy in South Africa and beyond.

Bookmark and Share