"We run what we call the Ububele Persona Doll Training. We use the dolls to encourage children to develop emotional literacy, to help the children recognize and talk about what they feel, what they need, what they think." Anthony and Hillary Hamburger received the 2007 Inyathelo Award for Community Philanthropy.
Anthony and Hillary Hamburger are both practising clinical psychologists who saw the critical need in low-income areas for mental health services. The Hamburgers established Ububele: the African Psychotherapy Resource Centre, in Alexandra (Johannesburg) in 2000. Ububele’s therapeutic nursery school (for fifty at-risk children) is Ububele’s heart. Its pulse drives Ububele’s daily life, providing a vital link to the community. It is also a place for non-invasive observation and learning by lay counselors.
Positive early childhood experiences are the most significant predictor of mental health in later life. Ububele therefore has an Early Childhood and Parents Division and Group Work and Training Divisions, each informing the work of the whole programme. Ububele is realizing in practice South Africa’s commitment to the Rights of Children, especially the rights to safety and security and health care which must include psycho-social support.
People with HIV and AIDS are also part of every group of people involved in Ububele’s mental health programmes. Many traumatized woman and children, often orphans in child-headed families, need support from trained counselors. This too is Ububele’s field of action. Ububele provides direct support to, and training for, lay and professional counselors working in such areas.
With initial and ongoing costs funded solely by the Hamburgers until funding could be attracted, Ububele is a large, influential, well-used mental health resource with counseling training programmes, set up and managed by the Hamburgers. Both in private practice, Anthony and Hillary volunteer their time to Ububele.
The use of the 2,000 square metre building has been donated by the Hamburgers, and the building is being transferred to a Trust so that Ububele can continue using it rent-free for as long as it fulfils its functions.