Photo Credit: Kids Haven
We caught up with Kids Haven, an NGO doing crucial work to protect children, to hear more about some of the work they do. We’re excited to be partnering with them soon to crowdfund for their Pre-Care programme. The Kids Haven Pre-Care team meets with children begging and living on the streets. Through this contact the team tries to establish why the kids leave their homes or school and what their lives are like. Where possible the team conducts home visits to assess their family circumstances and tries to remove the children from the streets.
Much of Pre-Care work is on a case-by-case basis: being told of a family in need or discovering a child in need while making a home visit to another and then conducting our own investigations. Each case needs time. Kids Haven often provides basic resources – transport money, some clothing, and food. Some of the case work can be dangerous.
The Pre-Care team has intervened to help a family without parents who are being cared for by the big sister who is 30. The younger brother was being hounded by the notorious OVL gang terrorising Etwatwa at the moment. When this gang decides that you must join, it seems that a teenager has no choice. If the teenager tries to avoid joining this gang, the members have to burn their shack in the middle of the night with the intention to kill all in the family. Kids Haven has helped the family to relocate out of Etwatwa and provided the interim finances for the move. The Pre-Care team facilitated the move of the teenager to extended family in Mpumalanga so that he can escape the gang. Kids Haven visited the school of the remaining siblings to confirm the plight of this family and to secure the help of the school principal in keeping the children safe since there is a risk they might be kidnapped in order to reach the teenage brother whom the gang members are looking for intently. He has agreed to be alert to their needs and to ensure their safety while they are at school. Kids Haven continues to provide transport to these children.
A 17-year old girl on the street known to Kids Haven arrived here with her 6-month old baby and abandoned him. Kids Haven immediately intervened and enabled the placement of the baby boy with a suitable foster parent in the local community. The baby was emaciated and Kids Haven supplied the host mother with baby food, nappies and clothes. At the same time, the Pre-Care team began investigations to search for the extended family known to be in Limpopo with the hope of placing the baby with the extended maternal family. The Pre-Care team has since conducted a home visit and completed a thorough family assessment. Kids Haven arranged for an aunt to collect both the baby and the young mother so that they are now living with the maternal family in Giyani, Limpopo.
In September, the Pre-Care social worker followed up on a case that has worried us after youths on the street brought S to Kids Haven after he had been chased away from home in the middle of the night by his mother. Our home visit and investigations revealed that there were four children living in a house with a very unstable mother. S also had bite marks on him inflicted by his mother for ‘having made a mistake’. Mum locks the four children in the house often and it seems that they are ‘rescued’ by their mother’s boyfriend who will drop past and open the house for them. Lindiwe (Pre-Care social worker) has presented all of this information to the State social worker who has now agreed that all 4 children are at risk and need care and protection. Lindiwe is doggedly following this case to ensure that these children are removed.