The Missionvale Care Center, a Catholic organization, is located in the Missionvale township located outside of Port Elizabeth. To paint a picture of the realities of the community, our guide asked us a simple question: How many faucets/taps do you have in your house? I personally have four. This community of thousands only has 16 water taps.
The Missionvale Care Center currently serves the community through food distribution, providing primary school education, clothing community residents, and staffing a health clinic. Anyone can visit and utilize the services at the center. At times they will feed upwards of 1000 people per day with a food parcel. The parcels contain beans, canned fish, tea, laundry and body soaps.
The school serves primary school aged children right now on a first-come, first-serve basis. The class sizes are in the 20s because they value getting to know the students and having adequate resources for the students. Students and their families are expected to pay tuition fees (R20, or approximately $2.50 per term) to attend for the academic year. However, the reality of the situation is that many families cannot afford the associated costs to send their child to school. Missionvale does at it can though to subsidize the fees so that they do not have to turn away any child/family.
Education Briefing at Missionvale
The center also provides shoes and clothes for the community. Tom’s shoes providesfootwear to the center annually for the children so that they can receive new shoes as they grow. This probably is the first time I have actually seen my money spent on a consumer item on the other side. The children are able to wear the shoes to school and while doing regular kid activities because of the versatility of the product. Feel free to buy a pair of Tom’s and know that you will be directly helping these residents: http://www.toms.com/
The biggest priority at Missionvale is the health clinic where community members are able to receive access to health care. Community and international volunteers help to run the facility with the Doctors that work there to provide these services and to also teach preventative care to the community as well. Many of the people who visit the clinic do so to receive their Anti-Retro Viral medications to manage HIV. However, they are not only helping the community, but they may also, from time to time, end up helping the government by providing the public health facilities with medicines and supplies that they have run out of or not received from the state.
Even though the center is supported by the Catholic church, it is not spreading its’ gospel as truth. They are attempting to provide these services to the community while building self-reliance amongst the community. Their belief is that the only way to break the culture and cycle of poverty is through education. Many other organizations are working towards the same goals and are not in competition with each other because at the end of the day, if this work achieves its’ goal of self-subsistence and reliability, they have eradicated the need for their organization and others like them.