Jill Carolissen

The Fathers Heart Community Development

What does your company do?

The Father’s Heart Community Development organisation was birthed to comprehensively address the burgeoning crisis South Africa faces: the overwhelming amount of poverty stricken orphaned & vulnerable children living in our country. Most of these orphaned and vulnerable children are currently living in impoverished, under resourced communities around South Africa. These communities are plagued by social ills such as abject poverty, social inequality, limited access to public services, high unemployment, substance abuse, gangsterism, gender-based violence and sexual abuse with the main victims of all these social ills being vulnerable children. This puts them at risk for severe lack of health, education, social and emotional well-being, nutrition and essentially harms their future aspirations. Utilising our easily replicated holistic, long term care model, based on a "HAND UP, and NOT A HAND OUT" our project provides mechanisms and access to resources, to empower children and adults living in the community to improve not only their quality of life, but influence & impact their community around them. To the best of our ability, we try and do this in a way that brings dignity and nurtures agency so they are able to create their own bright futures without dependence on our organisation or state, and are able to fulfill their potential and purpose. The Fathers Heart has developed a two-pronged solution to address the plight of orphaned & vulnerable children: Firstly, we focus primarily on the equipping & development of parents/guardians of vulnerable children & orphans, and ensure the development of a safe, nurturing family environment in which these children can grow; mountains of research have proven that the natural family consistently produces the best outcomes for children and remains the unique & indispensable foundation of every society. Under this first pillar, we address the following core issues which are crucial for the development of children: 1. Addressing familial poverty by ensuring adequate nutrition and livelihoods of the families ; this includes skill development & job creation initiatives for parents as well as emergency support if needed 2. Developing & nurturing safe & responsive parents through parenting courses, support groups and workshops 3. Mitigating violence against children by promoting & supporting safe & secure home environments and providing parents with psycho social support to overcome inter-generational trauma 4. Countering lack of learning & education in the home - Encouraging reading & learning in the home & the necessary resources for parents to do so 5. Focusing on the overall health & wellness of the family to reduce toxic stress on the family unit through supportive services and personnel The second prong is the provision of a holistic system of care, which brings various critical resources & opportunities to the child, in their community, so that they can thrive. These interventions and programs are facilitated through our daily afterschool programs, which run every Monday through to Friday. 1. Addressing the lack of education in the country by providing quality education & opportunities to learn which includes formal schooling provided through our Online Schooling platform in the community, a literacy and numeracy program for children who struggle and homework support & tutoring & digital literacy. It also includes to career pathing & tertiary education ( bursaries and internships) 2. Access to healthy, responsive relationship building opportunities and supportive services to establish safe ,nurturing relationships 3. Creating Safe enabling environments for children to thrive - Upgrading of urban spaces and providing safe spaces for children to be nurtured and develop IN their community, through our established Child care centre 4. Nurturing good emotional & mental Health & Wellness through Group Play Therapy, access to counsellors and psychologists and various other modalities to help children process & heal from trauma 5. Ensuring adequate Nutrition- Daily Nutrition Program at Afterschool’s, health screenings, Monitoring growth & development through our Family Development plan & identifying & mitigating any issues that could be affecting access to safe nutrition 6. Address lack of proper skills and resilience by focusing on personal Autonomy & Resilience programs and various talent development programs: art, music, dance, drama & sport

What is your biggest success?

I left the corporate world to start this non profit, having had no previous background on running an NPO, but knowing I had to do more; I had a passion to help vulnerable children & orphans be loved, have bright futures & heal from trauma. My greatest achievement is still being operational 5years later, having started an NPO on the cusp of a global pandemic, but more than that, impacting so many more childrens lives and achieving so much more than I thought we would at this stage. Another big achievement is winning a R16.3 million grant for the construction of our Child & Youth Development Centre; I had to learn fundraising on the ground & to win this award, and being told I made history as this was the first time this donor has awarded this amount of money to 1 organisation since inception, was a milestone for me

What has been your biggest hurdle?

In my personal capacity, I have really struggled with finding balance between my roles as the Founder & COO of an expanding flourishing non profit, my role as a mother to two teenagers and as a wife, and then also trying to ensure I don’t lose sight of myself and what I need whilst I am so busy caring for others. It has been a journey, especially as an A type personality who goes above and beyond in every facet, but with the help of coaches and mentors, I feel I am finally reaching a point of overcoming this challenge. In relation to the organisation, raising funds for operations and various projects has been the biggest hurdle, particularly as SA’s economic climate has gotten steadily worse. We have a very diverse fundraising strategy, but even with that, it remains the most challenging area.