Mary Anne Christoffels has been caring for children at the Durbanville Children’s Home for 26 years.
“I really enjoy what I do because I love children so much. It really is my passion,” says Mary Anne, 50. “To do this type of work, you must be passionate about children, and that is me.”
Although the home is based in Durbanville, Mary Anne works at the satellite home in Kraaifontein, where she looks after 10 children from the ages of 6 to 18.
“It really helps that I work in the community where I stay. That makes it easier for the children to thrive, which allows them to focus on their futures.
“Right now, there are six girls and four boys, and I look after them by making them food, taking them to school and also doing their washing, along with many other things. I also pay attention to all of them, so that way I can notice if there is something on their mind, which makes it easy for me to talk to them and try and resolve the issue.”
Mary Anne also has two children of her own, a 27-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, but she says that she has enough love for every child that she has cared for in the past 26 years.
“I am very proud of my children, and I try to keep in contact with them for as long as possible. I still speak to a lot of them while they are attending university or working.
“I will motivate them and also just hear about what they are doing. I will always be there if one of my children needs somebody to talk to.
“Even if they get married and have families of their own, I still keep in touch with them.”
In order to help the children once they leave the home’s care at the age of 18, the Durbanville Children’s Home has a bridging house in Kraaifontein where the 18-year-olds can stay for two years to prepare for their futures.
Johanna Strauss, the home’s marketing and fund-raising manager, says the bridging home gives the teenagers the skills they need to make it on their own.
“While they are under our care, these children receive a lot of support so when they turn 18, we want to continue that level of support. The bridging house allows them to receive job-readiness training, and for those who wish to study, we help them get bursaries and also prepare them for the next step in their lives.”