Drug addiction, neglect, abandonment, and emotional and physical abuse as well as abandonment are just some of the reasons children are removed from their homes and taken to places of safety.
Rainbow of Hope in Goodwood is one such home for abused and abandoned children. It was established in 2007.
According to house mother Alison Alexander, it cares for 12 children. They get medical care; psychological support; equine therapy; yoga, swimming, music and an array of extra-curricular activities.
Joshua Covenant Chigome, spokesman for the Minister of Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, said children were placed with child youth care centres (CYCCs) if foster care was unavailable or unsuitable “due to their special care needs”.
Ms Alexander, who grew up in Kewtown, Athlone, said she had always had a soft spot for children.
“When I was 12 years old, I would go and take care of babies, after school at a local orphanage in my area. My mom, Sylvia, also used to conduct regular outreach, and one of my earliest memories of her was handing out over 100 sandwiches to the Erica Old Age Home,” she said.
Ms Alexander said that in the 1980s she and her husband had run one of the first safe houses for vulnerable children in Bishop Lavis.
“After working in the corporate environment, I made a change and took on the running of the home in Goodwood. When I first got here this place was a mess, but we slowly cleaned it up and transformed it into the home it is today,” she said.
Ms Alexander recalls the very first baby girl she took who was found in a Shoprite packet with her umbilical cord still attached.
“We named her ‘Anja’ but she now has another name and is a thriving 12-year-old,” she said.
Ms Alexander said one of her biggest worries was the fate of children who had nowhere to go once they reached adulthood and had to leave the orphanage.
“There is no solid plan for these children. I currently have two girls here who are of school-leaving age. If children with both parents cannot stand on their own two feet without the help of their family; what fate lies ahead for these children?”
Mr Chigome said there are 37 CYCCs in the metro with space for 1 1991200 children in need of care and protection.
“The Children’s Act allows a child to stay in alternative care for up to the age of 21 should they want to and if it is to complete education and studies. Most of these CYCCs accommodate these children either in the centre or in off-site accommodation as part of transitional care,” he said.
There were currently more than 36 000 children in foster care in the province, he said.
Ms Alexander has organised a women’s breakfast – with Women of Courage’s Joy Lange as the keynote speaker – at the Durbanville Racecourse on Saturday August 31, to raise money for signage and AstroTurf in front of the home’s Treasure Trove charity shop.
“We have also raised R1.4 million to purchase a house that can be used to help children who have to leave the home to live in an assisted independent living space. The house is close by to Alice Street but it costs R2.4 million,” she said.
The charity shop brings in about R20 000 a month to cover basic running costs.
The home also employs a full-time teacher Andrea Koen. “I like children, and when I met Alison we clicked instantly. I believe our society won’t get anywhere if education is not used as a tool to uplift the youth,” Ms Koen said.
Ms Alexander added: “We won’t have damaged children if they were not affected by inter-generational trauma. Healed people heal and I believe hurt people hurt.”
*The event starts at 9am. There will be a silent auction. Tickets cost R250. Call 021 591 6610 for details.
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