By 2005, Bantwana’s founder, Gill Garb, had spent more than a decade working in sub-Saharan Africa with communities struggling to cope with the devastating effects of HIV. Children in particular were affected, and the United Nations estimated that there were 10 million orphans across Africa that year.
Despite an initial outpouring of donor funding for HIV-affected orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), little of this support was reaching the communities and families shouldering the burden and costs of caring for these children. And yet, passionate, committed local groups and individuals—often operating in isolation with extremely limited resources—remained determined to find innovative ways to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare, and other support for the most vulnerable children.
Inspired by these ordinary people on the frontlines of the HIV epidemic, Gill sought a more effective way to channel funding and support to the communities who needed it most.
Working closely with colleagues in Africa who shared her vision, she conceived the Bantwana Initiative (“Our Children” in Zulu) as a way to bolster existing grassroots efforts. Gill sought out small, innovative organizations working with vulnerable youth and began providing support through management and technical training, with a focus on holistic, comprehensive care. Recognizing the importance of linkages and referral systems to holistics care, Bantwana also helps organizations to develop more effective partnerships with communities, governments, donors and other critical stakeholders that are already resulting in higher quality services and stronger, more durable delivery systems.
Bantwana began in 2006, working with 10 local organizations reaching 500 children in Uganda and South Africa. Today, Bantwana works with more than 90 local organizations, clinics, schools, and local and national governments in Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe and is by a range of public, private and individual donors.