MOSSEL BAY NEWS - There is a huge need for a children's home in Mossel Bay.
Because of the lack of a children's home and a scarcity of foster care homes, children are sent to homes elsewhere, such as Môreson in George and the Dorothy Broster Child and Youth Care Centre in Knysna.
This means biological parents in Mossel Bay, whose children are in these homes in other towns, only see their children from time to time and struggle to maintain a relationship with them.
Few people are willing to act as foster parents. There is a shortage in Mossel Bay. Also, the foster care grant is small.
Amanda Beukes, a social worker at the Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereeniging (ACVV) in Mossel Bay, notes: "A children's home in Mossel Bay is a necessity, because the closest children's homes are in George. There are two there.
"Also, the ACVV believes a centre for children with behavioural problems is sorely needed. Children can be taken in and helped for a short term - 12 weeks. If such a centre opened in Mossel Bay, parents would be expected to also take part in sessions."
Beukes said: "It is sometimes a problem finding foster parents. The foster grant is ridiculously small. It is asking a lot for foster parents to take care of children with such a small grant."
Beukes says a school of skills, known as an LSEN (learners with special educational needs) school, is also a great necessity.
"Many Mossel Bay children drop out of school because there is no space in the 'schools of skills' in George. There are only two such schools there and they serve a large geographic area.
"The needs of our children are great and they are not being helped because our resources are limited."
She noted that the ACVV was extremely grateful to foster parents who opened their hearts and homes to children in need, despite minimal financial help.
Mossel Bay Child Welfare board chairman Michale Carelse agreed about the "huge need" for a children's home in Mossel Bay and noted it was a problem that Mossel Bay children were placed in homes in other towns.
At the same time he mentions the "challenges" of a children's home. "Maintaining the infrastructure and running costs of a children's home requires substantial funding."
It is generally accepted among those who have a heart for children in need that the children's home would have to be a private NPO and do its own fundraising, relying on benefactors from business and the private sector and hopefully from overseas donors.
Good news is that well-known Mossel Bay artist and business woman Riëtte Delport has taken it on herself to help pioneer the vision for a children's home in Mossel Bay. "I have no experience in starting something like this. I would not lead the project, but I could try to help," she says.
Delport was in a children's home from the age of two, when her mother died, until her matric year, so she has first-hand experience.
She says she had weekends and holidays away from the home at families, but it was almost as if it did her more harm than good. Although these "temporary parents" welcomed her warmly, they either put her first and their biological children felt jealous, or they put their children first during activities, and she compared herself with them and felt left out. "My sense of being rejected worsened in these situations."
Good, loving families
She would not want to go back for visits, although they were good, loving families. "I was more comfortable in the home, where the other children were like my brothers and sisters," she says. That is why she believes a home is better than placing children in foster care.
"It's good for a child to go to their own permanent 'home' after school." Every child needs that security, Delport believes.
"The vision for a children's home in town is very close to my heart and I will support it with all my heart."
Deport notes with sadness that many children's homes have been shut down.
"It's as if children are no longer important. I would like to motivate young people and tell them that they have a future. Don't fall into the rut of thinking the world owes you. Discover your talents so you can develop them," says Delport, who has her own large, successful art gallery, displaying her work for sale in Mossel Bay.
Delport was in the Gedenk Children's Home in Ladybrand in the Free State. Call her (072 264 3460) if you share her vision for a children's home and would like to assist in some way.
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