Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Carried from Darkness to Light – The story of loving and caring for *Joshua, the pianist.

The young pianist bows his head and his fingers start to caress the piano keys. First, it is a tender caress and slowly it builds up to a more vehement stride. It is when his fingers touch the low keys that his whole heart is laid bare.

*Joshua was sexually molested for many years by the one person that was supposed to protect him at all times. His father. It was during his Grade 9 year that his mother went to the police and made it public. A court case followed that ended with his father in prison. His mother, not having employment at the time, disappeared from the scene. His younger sister was placed in foster care. And between the pieces of brokenness, a stricken teenager needed all his strength just to breathe.

*Joshua was put in foster care which did not work out. His Grandmother provided for him to be able to stay in the hostel of his high school. He was a loner whose only comfort was his music and the piano. When the other children went home over weekends *Joshua stayed behind. He was isolated, depressed and he made a plan to end his life. He stashed his medication from his psychiatrist and when he had enough he bought a bottle of brandy. During a weekend, when he was alone in the hostel, he consumed the medication and brandy together hoping to die. He was found in a bathtub full of water just in time by a Hostel Father. He was admitted for a month in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. It was then, during his Grade 11 year, that *Joshua found a home at Bramley Children’s Home. 

The loving care of Bramley Children’s Home slowly began to make a difference. His House Mother took him personally back to the school hostel every Sunday. The school took *Joshua to his therapist twice a week. The social worker offered continued love and support. A volunteer with a music background started to visit him and a forever friendship was cemented. With a network of support *Joshua started to heal.

During his Grade 11 year he won two trophies at the Eisteddfod for his piano talents. His shoulders got straighter. One Saturday per month *Joshua started to play piano in a Shopping Centre under the banner of Bramley Children’s Home. The money that was raised was banked for *Joshua.  Hope started to flicker in his eyes. His school marks improved tremendously. From barely passing Grade 11 he passed his matric year with flying colours.

After matric *Joshua successfully enrolled at a professional music school with the help of a bursary and volunteers to learn more about his beloved piano. With his shoulders straight and a sparkle in his eyes he left Bramley Children’s Home. Forever in our hearts. Forever family. 

The young man caresses the piano key and the sound of hope lingers on. He gets up and a smile flickers over his face. He bows and walks out on the shoulders of those that carried him till here. His music still fills the air … and in his shadow waits another frightened boy, another stricken girl for shoulders to carry them from darkness to light.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Impact of Covid-19 and lockdown on places of safety and adoption

Photo: Left to right: Ms. Nakedi Ribane – Patron of Child Welfare Tshwane; Ms. Nina de Caires – Adoption Supervisor; Ms. Isilda Felix - Owner of Dove's Nest

During one of the coldest weeks this year so far, representatives from Child Welfare Tshwane visited Dove's Nest, one of the registered Temporary Safe Care facilities for abandoned babies that assist Child Welfare Tshwane's Adoption Unit in taking care of the babies who need care and protection during the adoptability investigations.

Dove's Nest is a Community Based Organisation (CBO) and registered Non Profit Organisation (NPO) that provides a residential facility caring for abandoned or unwanted babies and children from birth to two years of age. They support them ensuring that they have milk, food, shelter, and the delicate care necessary for these precious lives.

Upon entering the house, Isilda Felix was cuddling and feeding little *Desmond, a mere 14 days old. He was legally placed there by the social worker when he was 2 days old after the biological mother requested that he be made available for adoption due to poor socio-economic circumstances. She already has two other children, is unemployed and without any family support. His father denied paternity and disappeared. His biological mother made an informed decision after intensive counselling that she would want a better future for him within a family where he will be loved and cared for. The adoption investigation is in the process by our Adoption Unit supervisor, Nina de Caires.

In the living room, we were welcomed by *Jessie, *Thandi and *Liya, three young ladies between the ages of 16, 18, and 19 years who grew up in Dove's Nest and are in the process of completing their schooling.

We were taken to a sunny bedroom, with baby cots lined up, and four friendly babies admiring the visitors. All between two weeks and four months old, each one with their own unique story and awaiting their future families and homes. One of them, *Thato will be meeting his adoptive parents in a couple of days and an exciting, beautiful moment and future within a forever family awaits them all. He will be part of a family that cannot wait to give him a home, a future, and the love and care he deserves.

However, Covid-19 and lockdown have had an unforeseen impact on the future and adoption process of these children and babies. In *Thato's case, even though the legal and adoption processes have been followed, the very last step of the final court order is outstanding. Due to a positive Covid-19 test result of one of the court's employees, and necessary precautions and sanitizing that had to take place, a great uncertainty raised as to when the final order will be obtained.  So, he will be able to meet his prospective adoptive parents, but not go home with them until a final court date is obtained to get the necessary order. This is both heart-breaking for the prospective adoptive parents, and the crucial parent-and-baby bonding is delayed.

Since the number of abandoned babies that enter the system are, unfortunately, an on-going occurrence, it can also potentially mean that Places of Safety like Dove's Nest will reach capacity because adoptable and matched babies are not able to move out to their new homes, which creates space for new babies that need temporary safety and care.

Another impact that lockdown and Covid-19 had, is due to the vulnerability of the babies, caretakers, and assistants that were not able to travel back and forth from home to work. They want to avoid unnecessary exposure of the virus to the babies. No one can just imagine the cleaning, cooking, bath time, nappy changes, feeding and sleeping routines in a house with four babies and three toddlers.
"A strict routine", is Isilda's answer to this well-organised caretaking and management of her house. Many years of experience have made her well equipped to care for all of them.

Thankfully, *Jessie, *Thandi, and *Liya are all also able to lend a hand when they are not busy with schoolwork and can help with daytime play and stimulation, but the sleeping time and night-time feeding remains the responsibility of Isilda for now.

The fact that babies cannot move further along the adoption process, and move out of the temporary safe care facilities make it very difficult for social workers to find space for the placement of new babies, who remains waiting in hospitals to be removed.  Social workers anticipate that babies will continue coming into the system, possibly even more so in the weeks and months to follow, as mothers find themselves in dire financial straits after losing their jobs or getting sick and are unable to care for themselves and their child/ren.

The process is dependent on many different departments such as the Department of Health, Department of Justice, Department of Social Development, Department of Home Affairs, and the South African Police Service to do adoption investigation and finalise adoptions. So, should one or more of these departments face temporary closure due to Covid-19, it will hinder the entire process.
As a result of Covid-19, the economic downfall will also inevitably have many other repercussions for child protection organisations and adoption in South Africa. Couples who were considering adoption may now have second thoughts, particularly when they have been financially affected.

The pandemic will affect the future financial security of child protection organisations and Non Profit Organisations (NPO’S) in general. Regular donors will reduce due to experiencing financial losses themselves and the income of already underfunded NPO's is likely to be severely affected, ultimately making their beneficiaries the innocent victims.

If you are pregnant and considering giving up your baby for adoption, or if you know someone who might be, please contact Ms. Nina de Caires, the Adoption Supervisor at Child Welfare Tshwane on 0124609236 during working hours. If you are prospective parents considering adoption, please also make contact with Nina.

Should you be able to donate baby products (milk, nappies, baby clothes, etc.) or support us financially, please contact Child Welfare Tshwane at 0124609236.

* Names withheld to protect their identity 

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Mandela Day – Lift and Carry a Child #LiftAChild

Mandela Day – Lift and Carry a Child
(18 July 2020)

We have never had a year like 2020! While we acknowledge the challenges the world and South Africa are currently facing, we know this for sure: Our work NOW is more important than ever! We need to continue with what we are doing – protecting and taking care of vulnerable children in Tshwane. We have been doing this successfully for over 100 years.

This Mandela Day will be different. We will not be able to receive large numbers of groups or visitors at our 9 community service points. We will not be able to receive large numbers of in-kind donations – as we need to sanitise everything that was touched and handled for the safety of our children. What we can do is to ask our loyal friends, supporters, and donors to help us in a different way.

Imagine a father lifting a child up on his shoulders...many of us have that special childhood memory -  and even when you do not have such good memories, you have the opportunity now to make that happen! When children are lifted up they feel safe, loved, and supported. That is how we would like our children to feel this Mandela Day – LIFTED AND CARRIED by the special friends, supporters, and donors of Child Welfare Tshwane. We need all the financial support we can get to continue with delivering our services to children who need it.

One of those essential services is Therapy and Medical Services – especially Healing and Attachment Therapy, Social/Emotional Interventions and Medical and Dental Expenses.

Will you consider lifting and carrying a child on your shoulders? You can do this by making a financial donation towards the THERAPY AND MEDICAL EXPENSES of our children anytime between today and 18 July 2020. It will mean the world to them and to us!

Donations can be made securely on our website: https://www.childwelfare.co.za/donate/ select ‘𝑴𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒍𝒂 𝑫𝒂𝒚𝑷𝒂𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒑𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑴𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍 𝑬𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆𝒔’ or via EFT into our bank account: Child Welfare Tshwane, FNB Brooklyn, Account Number: 62457249392, Ref: Mandela Day; your name & surname
#mandeladay #donatetoday