Global Reach: Grantee Partners

The Mudita Foundation


Youth age 0-35 (the definition of Youth in South Africa) make up to 62% of the population of the Western Cape with those 15-24 constituting 20%. Approximately one in three is born into single-parent families where they will never know or have little contact with their biological father. 28% of young people have been born into poverty- where the monthly per capita income for the household is R 522 ($33). 14% of young people live in households where all or most of the adults are and have been chronically unemployed; a situation which naturalizes unemployment and discourages young people from making serious attempts to find employment, gain valuable skills or engage in entrepreneurial efforts. Provincial levels of youth crime and violence are the highest in the country with “gangsterism” a feature of working class and poor communities. HIV/AIDS remains a very significant threat for young people, as is drug and alcohol abuse. Although there are no credible statistics on substance abuse among youth, the South African Government’s 2012 Youth Health Risk Survey indicates that 10% of them already are in a state of drunkenness on a weekly basis; and that 25% of them will be lifetime cannabis users with around 10% already using it on a regular basis.


The Mudita Foundation is a community-based organization providing high-quality mental health care and substance abuse services to in-school children and young people in resource-poor communities in and around Stellenbosch (about a 40-minute drive from Cape Town) who are at risk of failing or dropping out; the Foundation has been running programs since 2010. Its main programs include A) prevention, education, and awareness for learners and teachers experimenting with substance abuse matters; B) brief intervention programs (a 6-8 week therapeutic program for adolescents who are experimenting with drugs and alcohol or who use it occasionally/recreationally, and for those who are affected by loved one with substance abuse problems); C) outpatient treatment programs (a 3-month program for adolescents who abuse substances or have diagnosable addition disorder). Mudita which is a Buddhist virtue denoting the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s wellbeing was set up in 2010 by Educational psychologist Alison Carstens who remains the main force within the organization.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 2nd grant to Mudita Foundation is supporting the implementation of a pilot intervention which aims at strengthening the resilience of 750 learners in marginalized communities around Stellenbosch as a means to improving their school performance and contribute to secondary school completion. 

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