A group of dedicated health workers and concerned residents of Mamelodi established Tateni in June 1995. It started in response to the growing need to provide home-based care and nursing services to the rapidly increasing number of HIV/AIDS patients, as well as destitute chronically and terminally ill people who were discharged from hospitals without further support at home. In many instances such people were left to fend for themselves, without any support, love, adequate food, basic hygiene or health care.
"Tateni" is a Nguni word that expresses a mother's encouragement and support for a child that is learning to crawl, eager to take the first steps in life. This symbolises Tateni's vision of a caring community that provides support, love and human dignity to all chronically and terminally ill people, and their families, irrespective of diagnosis, age, colour or creed.
Initially, Tateni focussed on providing home-based nursing care to HIV/AIDS patients and other chronically and terminally ill patients, as well as counselling and bereavement support to their families. At the same time, Tateni was also a leading training provider for home caregivers. Since its establishment, Tateni’s focus broadened from home-based nursing care to social care. This includes aspects such as life-skills development, training for HIV/AIDS affected households, and caring for AIDS orphans and child-headed households. The main entry point for child-care services are Drop-in-Centres established at schools and churches in the community.
More recently the impact of AIDS, combined with high levels of unemployment and breakdown in family life, has left the youth of Mamelodi in a particularly vulnerable position. In many ways this can be seen as a "third wave" of disaster after caring for the dying and child orphans. Young people get no child support, many leave the safety and structure of the school system, and almost inevitably join the ranks of the unemployed. Countless young people feel alienated from and forgotten by society and turn to gangs, drugs, crime and sex to escape from the hardships of life. This perpetuates the cycle of HIV/AIDS and dysfunctional families.
Tateni responded to these needs by developing the Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program, aimed at equipping young people for adulthood and enabling them to break free from the harsh socio-economic circumstances that often keep them locked into poverty.