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FERTILEGROUND

Rating: 4.93 stars   15 reviews 428

Nonprofit Issues:

Health

Address:

100 Bayo Vista Way #16 San Rafael CA 94901 USA

Mission:

Fertile Ground is a Non-profit Organization which aims to support and inspire hope for youth and families infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS and other health challenges. By bringing together individuals and families who have demonstrated the value of living positively with HIV/AIDS with those who are newly diagnosed, we aim to build a positive future. Campers Comments on Camp Counselors Dear Our Fertile Ground & Red Cross, The camp was very nice we worked according to the schedule and we co-operated. The Team work was very strong and I enjoyed working with Robert and Jawaya. The kids were amazing, being with Our Fertile Ground I had an amazing time. Lovelife Groundbreakers Thandokazi Mcotshana Mother Dear Our Fertile Ground & Red Cross, I write this to express how I felt at the camp. Well it felt good to be at Soetwater Camp Site. You have showed us love also shared your knowledge and skills to us as parents and our kids. We had fun for 3days. I loved the facilitators because they made us feel special while taking care of our children. I will never forget those days 27, 28, 29 of April, the obstacles course, plus playing more and more games; and especially the Talent Show. Zuzeke Bonongo Doctor's Recommendation LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION Fertile Ground is a Non-Profit Organization founded in 2005 in the hope of educating, supporting and empowering individuals and communities affected by HIV and AIDS. It aims to provide a safe place in which children and their families are able to address pertinent issues, associated with the disease and its surrounding stigma, without judgment or fear while simultaneously strengthening community bonds and social support. Robert and Jawaya Shea, together with a host of volunteers have inspired individuals from all walks of life to take responsibility for their families and their communities and to assist in uplifting the lives of those less fortunate. They have played a pivotal role in organizing numerous residential and day camps as well as providing outreach programs for affected children, to major hospitals and clinics around the Cape Town district. Their camps are well-structured, organized and exhibit an incredible amount of hard work and dedication towards this cause. The programs created, incorporate the importance of developing life skills such as leadership and responsibility as well as more practical skills needed to cope in their everyday life such as ensuring a good nutrition, the importance of schooling and encouraging physical activity. The children are encouraged to set goals and achieve in life regardless of their health, physical or socio-economic status. On visiting one of the campsites in January of this year, I was impressed by the manner in which the camp was run. Structured activities were provided for both the caregivers and the children, each created with the intention of 'bringing out' or developing certain skill sets from within. There were also more than enough volunteers present to assist with activities, preparing meals and to oversee the general well-being of the kids. Catered meals were provided and between activities, children were kept busy playing soccer, dancing and drumming. Robert and Jawaya made an incredible effort to ensure that the kids were constantly entertained and provided for. Their kind and giving nature is evident in the love and respect shown to them by the caregivers and children. This organization is committed to the development and upliftment of youth in this country and their effort to positively effect change among these communities should be commended. Yours Sincerely, Dr Vashini Pillay MBCHB(UCT), DCH(SA), Dip.HIVman(SA) 23 Feruary 2011

Results:

· Fertile Ground Land Purchase: We are acquiring land so that camps are more frequent and better supported. Nearly one third of the operating budget for each camp goes to rent. The South African government has placed a beautiful site on the Market for $650,000.00. This protected land is close to Cape Town with waterfalls, forest and wildlife, a perfect home for Fertile Ground.

Target demographics:

They started leading weekend camps for Cape Town's HIV/AIDS affected adolescents. In collaboration with 4 like-minded organizations Fertile Ground's first Residential Camp was held in July 2005 just outside of Cape Town. With help from several of Jawaya's boys, 35 children from townships like Delft, Guguletu, Langa, Khayelitsha, Bellville South and Paarl who attended the clinic at Tygerberg Hospital participated in the camp. The camp was facilitated by Shiraaz Ismail and a team of volunteer teen counselors from Cape Town and California. The first residential camp was a great success. For both American and South African participants it was a time of sharing and exchanging ideas, igniting hope for the future and beginning a foundation for deconstructing the shame and stigma built around those living with HIV/AIDS. Since 2005, five more weekend camps have been created and a score of day outings, where HIV-infected youth learned life skills such as leadership, nutrition, swimming, and how to cook over an open fire. HIV and AIDS are discussed openly and frankly, helping the adolescents develop self-acceptance, de-stigmatizing their illness and creating hope for their future.· Sponsor an outing: Help give access to a special environment or even for Fertile Ground Camp participants to explore. A $10.00 donation will help to provide arts and crafts materials for two participants or provide two camp meals. $50.00 will cover the complete cost for one child to attend a week long residential camp.· Support two camps: The next camps are scheduled for February and July of 2012. One hundred children and their caregivers will attend the week long camps. The camps require $15,000.00 each paying for food, transportation, lodging and support services. All counselors, mentors and organizers are unpaid volunteers.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

Children & Families Living with a Chronic Illness

Geographic areas served:

South Africa

Programs:

Programs Fertile Ground operates on the belief that every child counts, and that every child deserves a childhood rich with happy memories and positive experiences that they will carry with them throughout their adult life. Providing disenfranchised children with these opportunities, in conjunction with skills training gives them a chance to better manage their illness, reduce the impact of stress on immune function, increase their ability to cope with the difficult and often violent communities they come from, and ultimately stop the cycle of HIV disease transmission through treatment adherence and behaviour change. Children are our greatest treasure and can be the most powerful agents of change, as they grow into adulthood feeling secure, confident, and attentive to themselves in the world. Residential camps The Fertile Ground Camp in Cape Town brings people from diverse countries, institutions, communities and backgrounds together, creating an opportunity for participants to overcome differences and foster compassion, understanding and acceptance. At the residential camp, families can find a needed relief from the impact of stress, violence, dis-empowerment and stigma they experience in their communities. In South Africa, young girls and women are particularly vulnerable and significantly affected by domestic violence and abuse. There are insufficient resources and agencies whose efforts address these problems. Residential camps offer respite from these difficult situations where families can spend five days together sharing knowledge & experiences, which offer release from isolation, despair and fear. The camps are an opportunity to get away from the hardships that youth, families and there communities live with on a daily basis and allow them to share experiences while learning about themselves and obtain a locus of control within their health challenges. Day camps Day Camps offer participants the opportunity to explore sights and experiences such as; Trips to the aquarium, Robben Island, Bird World, hikes in the forest and on the mountain, which they cannot easily access in their everyday lives. Significant themes that have emerged from the residential and day camps are as follows: Youth being accepted without judgment Families finding the freedom to express and disclose health status Participants making new friends and becoming a part of a cross-cultural community Maintaining daily medication schedules Taking on personal responsibility and participating in healthy activities Being part of a great camp family Outreach to hospitals and clinics The hospital outreach program includes activities in the waiting area of the outpatient clinics as well as bedside visits to children who are very ill. Under the direction of Robert Shea, the Program Director, trained counselors and students provide fun and engaging activities to children and caregivers to alleviate the anxiety children often experience on their hospital and clinic visits and help keep them engaged in care. Through the monthly day outings and hospital and clinic outreach activities, we seek to keep camp participants connected to what they have learned about themselves, their communities, and how to take care of their illness through the camps, in addition to reinforcing and adding to their social support.

2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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More Info

415-454-8544
www.ourfertileground.org

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Reviews for FERTILEGROUND

Rating: 5 stars  

Several years ago, I volunteered as a camp counselor for FertileGround, and truly, my time spent there changed the course of my professional and personal life. Bearing witness to the incredible love, passion, and dedication both Robert and Jawaya put into their organization, and more importantly, those they served, cemented my decision to attend medical school with a specialization in global health.

Beyond the clinical aspects of HIV/AIDS, my time spent with FertileGround taught me that the best, most successful therapies (for any condition!) were simply those of love, confidence, and acceptance.

Through fun team-building activities, lessons, and mealtime conversation, the campers were able to forget the troubles plaguing their world: stigma, poverty, and illness. These troubles were replaced with laughs, smiles, and encouragement. Within the few days the children spent at camp, a safe-haven was formed. This was a community without judgment and without worry.

This safe space, the friendships formed, and the education provided at these camps was truly invaluable to the camp participants, and incredible for me to witness.

As a camp counselor, it was my job to combat stigma and social inequality through the provision of love and confidence, and I can only hope that I impacted the lives of the campers in even half the way they have impacted mine.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Grant them more access to funding to allow them to continue the amazing work that they do!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

3 years later, I continue to draw and reflect on my experiences volunteering for Fertile Ground in my own public health work. I volunteered with Jawaya and Robert at the Red Cross Hospital and as part of their camps for children. As a volunteer, I could see that all of their activities directly impact the children and caregivers involved, and witnessed firsthand the benefits of Fertile Ground's efforts. Their mission is strong and the children are at the core of everything Fertile Ground does. It is such a great organisation, that sustains hope and growth in a desperate situation. I would love to see their reach expand to its full potential in future.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I had a life changing experience whilst volunteering as a facilitate for Fertile Ground. I was part of a team that's focus was merely giving back and through this it opened in such a positive way. I am really grateful to be a part of such a amazing organization.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I had an amazing experience volunteering for Fertilieground.. I went on a camp where we helped kids between the ages 5-16 years old, living with HIV. helping them understand the virus in a way that kids know best with playing games and doing obsticle courses and fun things.. it was great learning from the other directors and kids even. there have been many other outings like teaching them how to ride bicycles and to paint etc.. this is one organisation i will continue to support for the rest of my life and my kids one day would follow in my footsteps.. its such a great feeling giving back to my community and watching how the kids have grown up and teaching the ones younger than them what they have learned over the years. I always talk about fertileground and what a great job they are doing improving our country from small beginnings.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

i wouldnt make any changes but would like more support and sponsors from other organisations and companies..

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

We met Robert and his volunteers at the Rheumatology Clinic at the Red Cross Hospital during one of our visits. My 12 year daughter was invited to join the Cape Argus Race in March this year. Sonja participated and my husband ride along to motivate and assist her. This was the first event after Johan's mitral valve replacement. Most of the children participating came from dis advanced communities and had the opportunity to forget their challenges for one day and just have fun. The founders made sure there were bicycles, helmets, shirts, water bottles and shade for the participants. They ride with the children to motivate and assist where there was no family to join. Sonja is so proud of her first ever bicycle race and the medal that she received.

Robert and his team is a great asset at Red Cross Hospital, as we often have to wait for long periods before we can see the doctors. Our Fertile Ground make it fun waiting by playing games and having conversations that interest the older children.

I've seen the organization actively involved in mobilizing the youth of our country and specifically the children with chronic, rare and dreaded diseases

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would like to see more people involved in this organization as they need hands to do the work and give opportunities to these children. Some of them have no family and has to look after themselves from a young age. The numbers of potential clients are more than one can imagine.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I met the founders of Fertile Ground, Robert and Jawaya Shea in 2008, while leading a group of my University of Illinois students on a tour of the Cape Town area. I was very impressed with their vision for the organization, and commitment to strengthening and empowering children through both physical health and emotional well-being. I returned to lend child development expertise to the Fertile Ground philosophy of also strengthening parents and supporting strong parent-child relationships as an important enabling factor for good mental health and positive social choices. This organization has so positively impacted the lives of many, and Robert and Jawaya, as well as their staff, just continue to pour energy, time, professional knowledge, and creativity into Fertile Ground's development and outreach. Fertile Ground provides a wonderful, supportive, empowering, and life-changing foundation to the children and families it touches!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I started volunteering with Fertile Ground in 2012 at the residential camp after meeting the Directors through a government-coordinated youth development programme. It was an amazing experience being around such beautiful souls who were willing to share and learn. The parents could not stop smiling when they saw their children playing en enjoying life like there was no tomorrow. So after the camp I decided to spend more time at the clinics volunteering. I remember the comments of the parents after the camp, some were in tears because they never thought that disabled kids could play games with able-bodied children, and to be included without any discrimination. At home children are kept in their wheel-chairs. It changed the way everyone at the camp perceived children living with disabilities. I felt like crying this year when we were not able to host another camp in the Easter holidays because there was not enough funding to support another camp at that time. But when we told them that they could participate in the cape Argus Cycle Tour instead as Robert had managed to secure a donation of bicycles, and everyone wanted to know about the dates of the cycle tour.
I enjoy every moment of my time with fertile Ground and the work we do.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

There is a great need for funding to support more camps and to provide a stipend for volunteers.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I met the founders of Fertile Ground on an HIV/AIDS awareness -raising march in Houtbay in 2005. At that time the organisation was being registered and the first camp was planned for December. I really liked the concept of helping children learn to take charge of their own health and immediately signed up as a volunteer.The first camp had 25 child participants, 20 youth counselors, 5 parents and some youth from California. It was fantastic! The camp was so much fun and the health messages were integrated into the fun activities. Doctors and nurse s also came out to the camp. When I saw how it changed children's feelings about themselves and their health status, I was committed. I was elected as a Camp Director as I had several years experience working in a youth development program. I have been involved in every one of the organization's activities and know very well how it changes lives.The effects are long-lasting and life-altering.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The organization needs more funds and proerty so that mpore camps can be held and more children and families can benefit.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Children with chronic, life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses often need to be hospitalised for long periods. Being in a strange environment with unfamiliar people, away from their loved ones and their own environment is known to have a detrimental effect on children's emotional, social and even physical development. Play therapy is recognised as a therapeutic approach that helps children communicate in their own way and at their own level.The play therapy Robert and the volunteers and interns engage in with children is a fun way to help children develop. Indeed, they are more likely to be compliant because it is non-threatening yet therapeutic. Additionally, families can engage in these activities at home so it gives the family and child control over the child's development.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have more more volunteers and interns so that more children can benefit from Fertile Ground projects.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

My experience with Our Fertile Ground is limited to the bike world, but I can say unequivocally that I support their efforts and I trust in their mission. We donated bikes so that the Fertile Ground kids could participate in a Cape Town bike ride fundraiser. What a great idea by Robert - have the kids raise funding toward their own program by engaging in such a healthy and uplifting activity as an organized group bike ride. The kids were exposed to the best of the cycling world - its spirit, its community, its generosity, its camaraderie - and they felt the personal pride not just of completing the ride, but of making a real and positive contribution back to Fertile Ground. I'm very much looking forward to working with this organization more in the future.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful?