In South Africa there is no welfare state to support children apart from grants, which often  involves complex red tape. One grant that is the equivalent of our family allowance, and the Foster care Grant which can be paid to a relative or friend.

Both require documentation which  must be presented to a magistrate for approval. This whole system is daunting to a child and Social Welfare workers are overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem. Neither is education free.

Although the government has said that vulnerable children should get free education,  the reality in the townships is that government money tends not to  reach the schools.  For all these reasons the  project supports  children, referred to us,  to complete their education.

Food Vouchers are a very important part of the support that we give to these vulnerable children. There is very little social welfare support and many of the orphans do not qualify for grants or find the process of getting them overbearing.

As one child quoted "it’s very difficult to learn when your tummy is empty". In collaboration with the Spar supermarket, we have a voucher system whereby each sibling group on our list gets a food voucher every 2 weeks to spend on basic necessities.  The management at Spar have been incredibly supportive over the 10 years we have worked with them.  They notify us if children don't turn up, have given them Christmas jobs and generally help to keep an eye on things.

They now employ a number of our youngsters who didn't wish to go onto higher education.

We now have Vine supporters who sponsor individual children in the project. One person is sponsoring uniform for a particular child, one travelling costs to save the 2 mile walk to and from school, one person is sponsoring the travel cost of our university student and another is helping one of the grannies who is caring for 11 dependants.

Ntokozo's Story

Ntokozo presented himself at Hlamvana School in February 2012 and told them he was homeless.   Ntokozo has 2 other brothers who live in Mandini which is on the outskirts of Durban.  As the brothers have all grown there was not enough room for them all to sleep in the small hut that the parents had left them so it was decided Ntokozo should live with his uncle in the Township.  Unfortunately, the Uncle was not prepared to support him and denied him food and electricity to study by.  The school was able to refer him to the Project as Pat was still working in the township.  Maureen was at her wits end because she had a very good student and he deserved to complete his Matric.  We discussed the situation with the Deputy Head Mr. Mthimkhuiu.  He listened to the story without asking any other questions.  Finally, he spoke and he shared with us that he had just lost his dear wife and was finding it very difficult to cope alone.  He suggested that Ntokozo should take a room in his house.  He said that he could not afford to feed him but he would not charge him rent or electricity.  It was agreed that Ntokozo could join the feeding programme with Spar.  The project provided him with some new school uniform and the necessary stationery .  The arrangement was very satisfactory on both sides. We also learnt that Mr. Mthimkhuiu had a very sick daughter who was in hospital in Pretoria and Ntokozo would be able to house sit while he visited his daughter at the weekends.  

Ntokozo worked very hard and Sonia was able to help him register for further education in the September.  His goal is to be a pilot. 

The Matric Examination results were to be published on the first Thursday of January 2013 and Pat was able to be with Ntokozo and the other Matric students on that day.

He became very excited when he received a text message from the Zulu Land University in Durban inviting him to attend for an interview.  The project gave him the bus fare  plus a little extra to cover food.   He stood in line to register with all the other students over many days not daring to move so he slept where he stood.  He was offered a place for Environmental Studies and Geography.  He accepted it and was asked for R300 to secure the place.  The project covered this for him but when he took the R300 he was told that he would need another R1500 before they could give him his students cards.  The project is not in a position to cover such amounts of money so after many days of him asking for a bursary and being refused Pat joined him in Durban and between them they were able to get to the section of the Students Union who could help.  We queued for many hours but eventually we managed to secure a bursary for the fist years studies including free accommodation and transport.  The project continues to support him with food vouchers and we have messages of progress from time to time from him. The latest is "I just wish to thank the Vine Project for what you have done for me.  May your mission keep on succeeding now and then.  I love you guys so much for what you have done for our country.  Thank you!  May the Lord we love bless you in many ways"

In 2015 Ntokozo got his degree in Geography and the Environment. Having passed his degree and worked a year in an unpaid internship at Eshowe he is now following his dreams.  He has a bursury to study to be a pilot.  One of his instructors commented on the fact that he is the best pupil he has had for a long time.  A very determined young man!

Lucky's Story

Lucky Mxolisi Shabangu ( known as Lucky)


The story of Lucky.  (Lucky Mxolisi Shabangu)


Lucky never knew his father and his mother died in 2008. She never sent him to school until he was 9.

When she died the pastor took him in but only had a very small hut. The kitchen area was Lucky’s bedroom with his books stacked high. He did not qualify for a foster care grant because of his age, so no money.

He was at Khula School when he was introduced to the Vine Project. 

We helped him with School uniform and to make the house waterproof.

When the pastor moved Lucky was left alone and had to find his own accommodation . At one point he moved into a 2 room hut and was sharing a put-you-up sofa with 3 others.

Despite all his setbacks, Lucky never gave up. He worked hard, attended church and was always grateful for what little he had. With Vine support we helped him to find a single room and paid his rent as well as providing food through our feeding programme . In all this time he found work wherever he could , painting and doing jobs to get a bit of money.

He passed his matric and applied for a place at Durban . Heard nothing and in the meantime went onto the internet and found a place at Richtech doing mechanical engineering – fitting and turning. Vine helped again with his ever increasing transport costs. When he was introduced to Bell I think they saw in him as a very hard working and determined young man. In June 2012 they offered him a WBE and then an internship. At the beginning of August The Bell Company employed him on a 3 year artisans contract. All his hard work has paid off and he is on course for a secure and happy future.  

Although he works long hours Lucky tries to attend all our youth club meetings and is a great role model for our younger children. 

Phumlani's Story

His parent's died some 14 years ago, leaving 8 children, six of whom were living alone, Phumlani being the youngest.  No one in the family was working and their Foster Care Grant had stopped.  He was attending Khula High School, but was refused his examination results because he was unable to pay his school fees.  With the help of the project we proved he was an orphan and was therefore entitled to free education.  The project also purchased his school uniform, and helped with stationary and food.  He worked hard at school for 2 years passing his final exams with good enough grades to gain a place at Zululand University.  The project helped him to secure a free bursary to attend the University, and also helps him wth food vouchers and transport costs whilst in attendance.  He told Pat he wanted to set an example of how with the projects help he was able to succeed.

In 2015 Phumlani was awarded a degree in Transport and Logistics and now works full time for the department of transport in Pietermaritzburg.  Thulani, his younger brother, who is less academic and did not go to university is now working at Spar in the hardware section.

Nomvelo's Story


We were introduce to Nomvelo in 2010 when she was living isolated with her brother of 16 and a baby.  She admitted to having the baby as a means of income (child support grant).  As they were orphaned and completely destitute.  They had no food and were living a crumbling shack with broken wooden walls and a leaking tin roof.  Over the years Vine has supported them with food vouchers repairs to the house help to access grants for her brother and the necessary equipment to access education for them both.  The baby has been in a creche so that she can study, and Nomvelo despite all the problems of a child to raise and a brother with a macho Zulu attitude has become a confident young women.  She has moved to a new municipal housing settlement.  Despite not going on to further education Nomvelo has got a job in a large wholesale company and has managed to get her brother a job there too.  Her son Paul is at school and doing well.  They no longer need our support but keep in touch as they will always be part of the Vine family.