Caring and providing a safer environment for children living on the streets is something near and dear to social worker Wilma Piek.
The 51-year-old has been a social worker for 28 years, however, in the last seven years she has been the social development manager for the Voortrekker Corridor Improvement District (VRCID), which has helped her get more children off the streets while also providing support for adults.
“My job entails me getting together all of the major stakeholders to come up with ways to help those in need. We identify people who need help, and then I will work out a way to get the community, businesses or non-profit organisations to come and offer support.
I identify the gaps that need to be filled while I also identify which organisation is best suited to provide the relevant services. I am very passionate about helping people, children in particular, and I am so fortunate to work in the Bellville areas because there are so many non-profits that are willing to help,” says Ms Piek.
One of the recent projects Ms Peik worked on was with the child protection and development group El Theos which saw the group to run a camp near Strandfontein for children living on Bellville’s streets.
Ms Piek said: “When we started working with El Theos, we had about five children that we all knew by name, but as time went on our little group grew and eventually we were able to help 22 children find their way back to their families while 12 of them also went back to school.”
One of the more recent organisations that Ms Piek has also worked with HewLin Compassion, an organisation dedicated to helping people living on the streets to finwhich helps street people find their way back home.
She says she is is in charge with facilitating the partnerships needed to provide services for people living on the streets, she is said she was grateful for the help she gets from three social workers she works with at of her team of social workers that she works with at the VRCID.
“I have to really thank my three angels that work with me, Alistair Scholtz, Veronica Geduld and Jacque Pietersen. They really help me a lot and together we are all very passionate about helping others, which has also helped us to do some amazing things for people living on the streets. In our line of work, you need to have a dedicated and passionate team with you in order to achieve your goals.”
Before working with the VRCID, Ms Piek was in private practice, counselling people going through divorce and other issues that affect their personal lives other hardships.
She says that experience made her realise depression can affect people from all walks of life and that made her dedicate her time to bringing the community together in order to help each other.
“Providing support to those in need is the best way to give back to your community. I mean just because somebody lives on the street, it does not mean that they are not people, everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
Having so many organisations and shareholders that want to help those in need is truly heart-warming, and it is something that makes me feel really blessed to be doing this work.”
VRCID chief executive Derek Bock says Ms Piek plays a valuable role in the organisation.
“Wilma has a real passion for her work and they have had great success over the last seven years. She and her team are continuously working to reach new heights and quite often they achieve this by working after hours.”