150 years of caring
Ithemba Labantu is a Lutheran mission project which has been operating in the area for over 150 years. The present director, Father Otto Kohlstock, has been stationed there for 30 years.
The project offers numerous youth programmes including a fully-fledged soccer programme that has over 200 local players involved. These players are all divided into teams and compete regularly against each other.
iThemba Labantu not only provides soccer facilities, but also supplies much needed social support to youngsters in Philippi as well as offering homework support and school aftercare.
In addition it runs certificated training in solar plumbing and motor mechanics for small classes. Candidates receive formal qualifications which allow them to work in the formal economy. Ithemba Labantu also runs a pottery workshop which exports products to Germany to fund the activities of the programme.
An HIV hospice and clinic has been running at the centre for some years but since the opening of the Mitchells Plain Hospital, the number of beds required has dropped and the mission station has recently converted the hospice into a primary school, adding a new building to accommodate the school.
Ithemba Labantu is situated adjacent to a flood retention pond which was excavated by the city of Cape Town for the purpose of draining seasonal rainwater away from homes in low-lying areas. The mission has applied to the city to turn this area into a parkland with sports fields which can be used both by the community for recreational purposes and for training of young people in sports. The project will require some significant engineering of the drainage system and in winter the fields will be submerged when the area is needed for water retention.
The centre also runs computer training, a soup kitchen and a crèche. The centre, however, has struggled to obtain local funding and almost all of the running costs are subsidised by German church funders.