On 30 August 2019, Helena Willers, will drive through the gates of Bramley Child & Youth Care Centre for the last time. After six years and two months at Bramley, she will retire and move to Tergniet on the Garden Route.
She decided to study social work as she always had an interest in people and the way in which they function. “I always wanted to understand why people act the way they do or remain passive…..” says Helena. “According to my dad I always had questions about people’s behaviour”. She said her parents recommended teaching as a career, which in their opinion would have caused less emotional stress and she did consider this for a while – but her passion for people won!
Looking back, she remembers how many home visits were done in 1978, almost immediately when a report came in. She worked in Eersterust at that time. “I remember wanting to do group work with a group of Grade 9 girls and how I battled to find a camping site for a multi-racial group,” she told us. “We had interesting group sessions with foster care parents, wrote our reports by hand before handing it to the typists and we had to submit reports to Court 14 days prior to the hearing”, said Helena. Today everything is done electronically, and the social workers type their own reports.
According to Helena, one of her biggest challenges was to appoint qualified and experienced child and youth care workers. “The complexity of our children is also a challenge and needs a lot of thought and planning. With fewer children going out over weekends and during the school holidays, reunification with the community is also problematic,” said Helena. Finding employment opportunities for children with special needs and assisting children with peer pressure really tested her skills as social worker during her time with Bramley.
“I am still amazed about the open hands and hearts of Management and the community, “says Helena. It was such a blessing to receive donations and support which enabled Bramley to provide for the children. And then I enjoyed getting feedback about children that have successfully been reintegrated with the community and become active members of society”, she said.
Helena is really looking forward to the new environment and relaxing near the ocean. She plans to do some gardening (in pots) and do some improvements to her home. She wants to travel and spend time with friends and family. Starting from 2020 she will be looking for some voluntary work. “I definitely will listen to more music and read more”, says Helena.
The best advice she ever received was to always give your best and be your best. And the best advice she can give anyone is to use humour, honesty, commitment and sincerity to get ahead in life.
Her hope for Bramley CYCC is to create the space for each child to work through their trauma and then adapt their lives, utilise the opportunities created for them and to excel in their school. This will equip them better to face life in the community.
Her personal motto is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no results”.
Helena will be missed at Bramley and we wish her a happy retirement. Caren Malherbe has been appointed as the new Manager: Bramley CYCC.