Philani Nutrition Centres is an independent, not-for-profit, NGO (non-government organization) committed to ensuring proper health and nutrition to children and their mothers in the squatter communities of Crossroads, Browns Farm, and Khayelitsha, on the outskirts of Cape Town. Philani began in 1980 as a grassroots association on the initiative of female health workers in Crossroads. Today, Philani is loosely associated with other NGOs in the region, forming part of the Progressive Primary Health Care Network.
Philani serves an estimated 500,000 people living in regions that experience high rates of unemployment, poverty and political instability. These conditions debilitate many members of the community in providing proper nutrition and health care to themselves and their children. Because mothers have not traditionally received job training, they and their children are the most vulnerable groups living in these areas. Philani is dedicated to providing these groups with both short-term and long-term solutions to malnutrition and poor health. Many of these children will grow up with deformities due to lack of nutrition in childhood and will never reach their full growth potential. Philani provides direct health and nutrition assistance to these children in the seven centers it operates in Crossroads, Browns Farm, and Khayelitsha. It also provides job training to mothers through its weaving and printing projects, and trains and hires these women in the Philani centers as administrators, health and nutrition workers, educare workers, and hand-craft instructors and sellers. In fact, the majority of the 40 full-time employees at the Philani centers are drawn directly from the communities they serve.
The services Philani currently provides are meaningful, but they are not sufficient to meet the needs of the ever-growing population in these areas. Among Philani's long-term goals is to build a comprehensive health system within these communities. To that end, Philani currently coordinates with civic associations and major health care providers to bring comprehensive care to the region. Because Philani is an independent NGO, it relies on donations and grants to operate. Philani views donors as partners in providing essential primary health care and involves donors in consultation and planning, giving them the opportunity to shape the way their funding is utilized. For more information or if you would like to help, please visit the Philani Nutrition Centres website.