What does it take to lift a child out of poverty? Who is best positioned to deliver services to vulnerable families? How can we empower children to rise above their circumstances and thrive? At Ubuntu Pathways, we have spent the past 21 years addressing these questions in the townships of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), South Africa. Today, Ubuntu Pathways is breaking the cycle of poverty in our community. Through our comprehensive system of education, health, and household support, we are placing 2,000 orphaned and vulnerable children on a pathway out of poverty, from cradle to career.
Shifting away from traditional development models that fail to address the compounding burdens of poverty, we have pioneered a community-led, holistic approach that takes children and families from vulnerability to stability and success. Our theory of change is rooted in four guiding mandates: committing to a lifetime of change; focusing on lives transformed, not lives touched; trusting those closest to the problem to create the solution; and investing in an institution that will stand the test of time.
The Ubuntu Campus, located in the heart of Gqeberha’s Zwide township, embodies this approach and houses an array of world-class resources––the region’s only state-of-the-art pediatric and HIV and TB clinic, an early childhood development center, a vocational training hub, a community theater, eco-friendly solar technology, and an independent primary school.
While our constituency ranges in age across all stages of life—from newborn and toddlers, to school children and young people, to parents and elderly caregivers—our programming places a particular focus on children and youth. We believe that all children deserve the same thing no matter their birthplace: everything, every day. We strive to provide this to each of our clients through our full spectrum of health care, household stability, and educational services, including our Early Childhood Development, Primary School, and Job Skills Training Programming.
Ubuntu is investing in lasting results by challenging the concepts of impact and scale in the development field. Our approach is simple yet radical. We know that poverty is layered—the summation of many complex and interconnected obstacles. It is contextualised, manifesting itself differently in communities across the world. We learned very early on in our history that any singular attempt to break the vicious cycle of poverty will not sustainably eradicate extreme disparities. While one-off interventions may bring temporary change, our sustained, multi-dimensional programs fundamentally transform the trajectories of children, from cradle to career.
We have codified these beliefs in the Ubuntu Model and in our programming, and the results have been transformative. We know we will have made a difference if we continue to uphold Ubuntu’s track record of life-changing results: Ubuntu’s Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV initiative boasts a 100% success rate of mothers giving birth to HIV-negative babies. Ubuntu clients living with HIV adhere to their treatment plans at a rate of 92%, compared to 57% in the townships. 100% of Early Childhood Development students graduate the program ready for Grade R having met all age-appropriate developmental metrics. 78% of non-university youth secured rewarding employment through our JST programme and an opportunity pipeline that includes top corporate recruiting partners in the area.