MOSSEL BAY NEWS - "Often when we met children in need, we wished we could have stepped in sooner to save them from what they'd gone through, protected them from a situation or walked with them at that time - instead of afterwards."
These are the heartwrenching words of Yolandi Jansen of the Heart-to-Heart Care Centre which helps vulnerable children in Mossel Bay.
With the cost of living rising constantly and winter here, the Mossel Bay Advertiser contacted government bodies and private entities which help children to find out their specific needs. Social workers and volunteers painted a dire picture of poverty and the desperate need for basics - from milk formula to clothing, as well as major emotional and educational needs.
Jansen says Heart-to-Heart's Change Won Project was birthed out of the need for early intervention in the lives of children. On a positive note, she says: "Today we are excited to say we have counsellors in two of our local schools, Hillcrest Secondary and Sao Bras High." She says the Change Won Project aims to holistically equip and uplift every learner with knowledge, skills and support in their personal and school life. You can support the project by donating school uniforms, toiletries and nutritious non-perishable foods. Besides the Change Won Project, Heart-to-Heart has Pregnancy Care and Kids On The Move projects.
Kids On The Move
Pregnancy Care involves supporting vulnerable pregnant women. Kids On The Move is an after school programme offered at Diaz, Garden Route and Imekhaya primary schools to provide support for children who need it most. Once a week Heart-to-Heart volunteers provide a meal, homework support and extra curricula activities.
"The children we serve come from families in need, who have experienced loss and hardship, and who need someone extra to believe in, support and love them," a Heart-to-Heart spokesperson said. As from May, Kids on Move will ensure that each of the 150 children it serves has received a cooked meal per week.
The project needs:- Volunteers with a love for children, who will comply with the Heart-to-Heart policy and are available on weekdays from 14:00 to 15:30
- Stationery such as wax crayons, colouring pencils, sharpeners, erasers and HB writing pencils
- Cooking ingredients or cash donations towards the cooked meals project
- Children's story books in excellent condition
For more information on volunteering or donations feel free to contact the Heart-to-Heart office (044 693 0828). Heart-to-Heart is one of the ministries of New Life Church, which is in Heiderand.
ACVV (Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereniging) social worker Amanda Beukes stressed the dire need for a vocational school in Mossel Bay, like Van Kervel and Olympia special skills schools in George. These schools offer practical subjects, such as educare, hairdressing, woodwork and mechanics for children who are not academic. "There is a desperate need for this," Beukes reiterated. "We send about 60 applications to Olympia and Van Kervel and there is only space for four children so the rest have to stay in high school. They fail and drop out of school and this leads to social problems."
Citing another major need, Beukes mentioned the lack of transport from Sonskynvallei to Brandwag Primary School. "It's a fantastic school," Beukes enthuses. "But parents have to pay for taxis. They don't pay, so the children drop out of school."
She concedes: "Many of the Sonskynvallei children attend Hartenbos Primary, but they have to walk on that busy main road with all the traffic."
Beukes said nappies and milk formula are needed for babies in places of safety. "Often the biological parents are very young or on Tik," Beukes explains.
"In May we start our Winter Hope project, when we ask for clothing, shoes and blankets. There is a shortage of boys' clothes," she stresses. You can drop off items at the ACVV offices in Montagu Street, near the Harry Giddey Park. Call the ACVV on 044 691 2259. The ACVV services the following areas: Mossel Bay town, D'Almeida, Tarka, Voorbaai, Hartenbos Heuwels, Sonskynvallei and Brandwag. The rest of the Mossel Bay area is divided between Child Welfare SA and the Social Development Department.
Child Welfare SA: Mossel Bay spokesperson Julie Petersen mentioned the following challenges social workers contend with:
- Recruitment of suitable safety parents
- Substance abuse
- Increase in school drop-outs
- Availability of facilities for children with behavioural problems
- Teenage pregnancies
- Programme funding
- Commitment of foster parents – especially when children become teenagers
- Parents' lack of responsibility
If you would like to assist Child Welfare, email email@example.com or call 044 693 4764.
When asked if there was a need for a children's home in Mossel Bay, Department of Social Development Western Cape spokesperson Esther Lewis said the department's approach was to place children in community or family settings, over the option of institutional care, where possible. "Family placement and placement in the community is in the best interest of children in terms of their growth, development and their future. It's best they stay connected to their roots," Lewis said.
She echoed Petersen regarding the need for more safety parents and foster parents, mentioning that community members could assist the department in its work by being screened and trained as safety or foster parents.
Child and youth care centres
Lewis notes there are four child and youth care centres in the region, which also cater for children in the Mossel Bay area:
Môreson in George (47km from Mossel Bay), Dorothy Broster (117km away), Masizama (142km away) and House Triomf (107km away). Lewis said the 43 safety parents in the Mossel Bay area were trained by Agape, an NGO funded by the Department of Social Development. The parents are in Mossel Bay, KwaNonquaba, Asla Park and Great Brak.
"In the financial year 2018/19, the Social Development Mossel Bay office placed 21 children in foster care - an average of two per month."
Call the Social Development Mossel Bay office (34 Marsh Street) on 044 690 3943.
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