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The Homestead's work, to keep children within their families and try to re-unite street children who have left their families is made difficult by the grinding poverty of their daily lives. Despite efforts to mediate the child's return home, in many cases this is short-lived because of the family's inability to meet the child's most basic needs. This causes him to drift back on to the street. There is no food at home. It is as simple as that.

Ubunye Beadworks aims to address this challenge by offering a skills training project for women - mothers, aunts and sisters of the children in our projects. The beadwork project forms part of the holistic approach to tackling the root problems facing families and children. Ubunye helps to alleviate poverty and improve the coping mechanisms of mothers. The project enables the women to earn a weekly income so that they can provide for their children's basic needs. The women also develop job skills and self-esteem. For many of them, this is their first experience of holding a job and taking responsibility for themselves and their children.

The profile of Ubunye's participants shows that:
*Two-thirds of the women have not completed school beyond grade 9, and many have only completed primary schooling
* The majority are single parents
*They struggle to survive on child support grants as they are unable to find employment due to their lack of skills and experience
*They are often supporting elderly parents, brothers and other relatives who are also unemployed
*Many are HIV positive
*Most of them are backyard dwellers - Ubunye helps them to erect wooden wendy houses via a revolving loan from the project.

The job creation project incorporates women from Manenberg, Delft, Guguletu, Wesbank, Khayelitsha and Nyanga. Some of the women work at the workshop in central Cape Town, whilst others who have very young children and cannot afford crèche fees work from home, and bring in the finished products weekly. They are paid per item made.

The voices of the women themselves tell us that the project is achieving its objectives. This is what they had to say about why they attend the project:
*I am the only provider in our house and support my family
*As a single parent, it really helps me to support my children
*It motivates me and teaches me to be an independent woman
*It helps me and my child to survive
*It releases my stress
*It makes me happy to do beadwork
*It gives me self-confidence

These comments make it clear that as well as providing an income the project provides emotional support, a safe and calm space, and a place in which to develop self-esteem. Personal development is one of the core functions of the programme. The women receive life skills training in nutrition and wellness, healthy but inexpensive diet, saving on a limited budget, appropriate nutrition for those on antiretroviral treatment, growing vegetables in containers, and good parenting skills. They are also taught work readiness and skills for shop assistants. We help them with housing, and even getting false teeth in order to improve their chances of finding open employment.

Ubunye gives the women a chance in life that they have never had before.