Our Programme

Why do we need another project in the Valley?
South Africa’s war on sexual abuse, exploitation, violence and HIV/AIDS is far from over. Although some statistics are encouraging (according to the SAPS crime report the 67 000 reported cases of rape and sexual offenses in 2010/2011 dropped to 50,000 in 2016/17), these figures are still too high when estimates put the real figures at four times this number.

The South Africa Demographic and Health Survey, 2016  reported that 16% of women aged 15-19 have begun child-bearing (women who generally speaking should still be in high school!) and these pregnancies are often high risk. Based on questions about domestic violence to women 18 years and older, 21% of ever-partnered women report that they had experienced physical violence by a partner, and 8% report that they experienced physical violence in the past 12 months. Furthermore, 6% of ever-partnered women report that they experienced sexual violence by a partner, and 2% experienced sexual violence in the past 12 months. This suggests that even where parental figures are present, they are not empowered to protect themselves or the next generation. Moreover, we have thousands of children with little or no parental support; many households of children led by children; many families in crisis through poverty, lack of education and healthcare, trapped in cycles of violence and abuse. Therefore we need programmes and systems in schools that support children and help them make better decisions for themselves and others. Systems wherein instances of rape and abuse can be reported, and where children can feel safe.

What does iKusasaLethu offer?
iKusasaLethu means ‘Our Future’ and in 2017 the team impacted the lives of over 450 adolescent boys and girls in Grades 8 and 9 at Thabela High school and KwaNthebeni High school in the Valley of 1000 hills. Through a faith-based school curriculum, the project is equipping young adolescents with the knowledge, skills and values to make informed decisions and reduce risk-taking behaviour.

By the start of the second term in 2018, our work expanded to Khabazela high school, Embo and Ingqungqulu high school, Molweni, which means that the number of children being impacted has risen to over 1000 across the four schools.

Our programme uses material initially developed by iThembaLethu, Glenridge when the project started in 2008 and three of our project workers were involved last year in a working party to upgrade the curriculum. This programme has been successfully implemented for 10 years in Cato Manor, Durban where it has been evaluated by the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division [HEARD] based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban as a “forward thinking, innovative and far-reaching” programme yielding a “positive change across the board for psycho-social functioning.“ Further information on the Glenridge project may be obtained from their website http://www.ithembalethu.org.za/

What’s our plan of action?
1. Our youth workers use the “Life Orientation” and the “Arts and Culture” subject slots to meet every child in the grade once a week for the duration of the full school year. They use interactive methodology, group work and discussions, projects and worksheets to present a curriculum which includes: understanding your own value; understanding the value of others; understanding sexuality; building a knowledge base regarding HIV and abuse; overcoming pressures to engage in risky behaviours; a positive orientation to the future and its possibilities.
2. An extra-curricular programme to reinforce the classroom programme: youth clubs, holiday clubs.
3. Informal individual mentoring sessions with youth workers who are available to meet individually with children who request it or are identified as needing support and counselling in terms of sensitive issues and situations.
4. Leadership development programme.
5. Supplementary workshops with parents and teachers.

Young People for Change
This is now the third year we have been working in Embo on Saturday mornings running fun clubs, workshops and local soccer and netball teams.

Hope Project

This year (2019) a new project targets vulnerable school leavers and young adults in Embo, Nyuswa, Inchanga, Hammarsdale & Molweni. Its purpose is to mentor young men that are vulnerable and struggling to find hope and purpose in life.  It addresses the roots of addiction and other social problems, helping young people to access professional help, providing motivational and spiritual guidance and offers practical solutions, like connecting them with potential employers.

For more details about our plans and budget click HERE


Who’s on our Team?

Our Management Team
We have a wealth of professional expertise and practical hands-on experience in our Management Team which comprises:

Jean Meikle-Braes – management consultant and former Human Resources Director at Sivest. Chairman of iKusaLethu.

Wendy Smith, M.A. Research Psychology (UKZN);  B.A. Hons (UNISA); B. Soc. Sci (UKZN)– Social Projects Manager for WalkerSmith Architects.

John Whitfield – Owner/Director of Thermal Solutions.

Dennis Ellerman – Owner/Director of Netvendor.

Johannes Mthembu – Team leader of iKusasaLethu Project Worker Team.

Jill Lawton,  M. Soc. Sci. Educational Psychology (UKZN); M.Phil (UP); B.A. Hons (Ox); B.A. Hons (UKZN) – Pastor at Hillside Church & Media Consultant for iKusasaLethu.

Although she has retired from the management team, we still have support on the ground from our project ” Gogo”: Nompepho  Ntloko, B. Soc. Sci. (Fort Hare) – Social Worker

Our Teachers

Johannes and Nothile Mthembu are the project leaders of iKusasaLethu. They are assisted by Lindo Mthembu (no relation) and Sipho Madlala. Samtholo Mtshali is now working for a partner project (peer mentor development in Valley schools) with the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust but still finds time to oversee our youth clubs in Khabzela and Thabela high schools.  Find out more about our dedicated teachers HERE

Website and Social media

We are grateful to Hot Spot Digital Media services for donating their time and expertise which is currently engaged in upgrading this website and our social media platforms.

How can you help? 
We are urgently looking for long and short term investments from businesses with whom we can enter into partnerships, and together work towards the fulfilment of a ‘brighter future’ for children. Such businesses could also benefit from BEE credits and tax receipts by investing in this programme. Additionally, we would love to see the project expand beyond our borders. With long-term financial planning and large-scale investments, we aim to expand the programme to include many more needy children in schools throughout the Valley of 1000 Hills.

If you would like further information please email

Wendy Smith: wendy@walkersmith.co.za

Jean Meikle-Braes: jean.meiklebraes88@gmail.com

or call Fay: 031-7653080 or CONTACT US HERE

Banking Details:
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch: Hillcrest Code: 045726
Name: iKusasaLethu
Account Number: 058 098 992

iKusasaLethu Lifeskills programme is registered with the Department of Social Welfare as an NPO Reg. No. 123-446 NPO

and registered with SARS as a Public Benefit Organisation PBO No. 930049567
We are able to issue tax receipts to all donors. Please email fay@hillside.org.za