Thursday, 30 July 2020

Women’s Month at Child Welfare Tshwane: Distributing 100 Dignity Packs for Girl and Women Victims

August month is women’s month in South Africa. And we have seen in the past how proudly we have heard the voice of women who have previously been silenced by society. It gives the spotlight on female issues in this country, and we all have a responsibility to change things for the better. This month we want to put the spotlight on what exactly it means to be a woman in South Africa.

A woman born in the Gauteng Province of South Africa will fall victim to the 25.3% of women in Gauteng who reported being raped - shockingly this includes infants and children. She will have a 25%-40% chance of being a victim of abuse and violence from her male partner. Should she fall pregnant most male partners will up and leave her to raise her child by herself, without him ever acknowledging the existence of the child. She will have a 30% chance of being unemployed and in many cases be left to survive on a minimal social grant. A woman born in South Africa might fall victim to one of the scenarios above, and in some cases fall victim to all of them.

At Child Welfare Tshwane (CWT) we want to empower and encourage women who have been victims to any of the above circumstances - to see new hope for their future. We want to educate and remind them that they can become what they have dreamt.

CWT collaborated with Women’s Leadership South Africa to introduce their Girl-Child Project in June this year. This programme entails meetings once a month for girl and woman victims to come together, share stories, support, and uplift each other. Every girl gets assigned a mentor who help them with the healing process, and educate them in making enlightened choices for their future. They give hope, where it might have seemed all hope has been lost.

We want the girls to be able to retain their DIGNITY by providing them with dignity packages to assist them with basic woman needs. To most of us these items are easily taken for granted.  This month we are calling for your help in sponsoring some of these items for the girls. If you have the means in any way, please help us to pack a shoebox filled with items such as:

  • Soap
  • Roll-on
  • Sanitary pads
  • Face Cloth
  • Vaseline
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste 

You can decorate your box and include a personal note of hope and encouragement. We will be placing these boxes in the hands of girl and women victims in our Girl-Child Programme. Dignity boxes can be dropped at Child Welfare Tshwane’s Head Office at 72 Oates street, Groenkloof.

“Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

A strong woman is the one who can dare to raise her voice for the cause she believes in, and this strength lives in a corner in every women's heart, it just needs to be searched.”

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Carried From Unimaginable Trauma To Understanding And Healing - The Story of *Abigail

*Abigail was born into a single-parent family. Her father disappeared from the scene before her birth. She never knew him. For the first 5 years of her life, it was just her and her mommy. But in a few seconds, her whole life changed. Her mother committed suicide. The pressures of life and being a single mother overwhelmed her. She hanged herself in front of 5-year old Abigail. 

Soon after Abigail was placed in foster care with family. Nobody talked about her mother and everybody sighed a sigh of relief - according to them she was too small to understand or to be impacted by her mother’s death. Abigail became more and more withdrawn in all aspects of her life. At school, she was a loner and not interested in making friends. Her school grades reflected that she had no interest in schoolwork. She did not answer when spoken to and refused to be part of the family activities. Her foster parents experienced her behaviour as disrespectful and saw her as a problem child. She was sent to other family members...and then other family members... The negative circumstances increased and followed her as she withdrew more and more into her own secluded world.

When she was 10 years old she was sent to live with an aunt that resides in an area where Child Welfare Tshwane is the designated child protection agency. The aunt was concerned about Abigail and felt that she needed help. She contacted Child Welfare Tshwane and while helping the aunt to legalize foster care for Abigail, Abigail was referred to the Child Welfare Tshwane therapy unit. Part of the therapy process is a socio-emotional evaluation which is a standard evaluation of how a child experiences their life in the world. The evaluation strongly indicated that nobody helped Abigail at any stage to process the death of her mother. 

Trauma debriefing and bereavement counselling followed. Therapy to improve her emotional awareness equipped her and suddenly Abigail could name the feeling that she carried inside of her body since that day. Grief. Intense grief. The therapist walked with her through the grieving process. The foster family was also part of the therapy process. It helped them to understand Abigail and equipped them better to care for her.  

There is nothing unusual about the group of girls that sit in a circle on the grass. They are chatting, smiling, and laughing like young girls do.  But for one of them, every word and every smile and every interaction is regaining what she lost when she was 5 years old. Now Abigail is making friends, an active partaker in school, and an integrative part of her foster family. Abigail is alive again.

How does a 5-year-old survive when she sees her mother committing suicide?  Barely, just barely...until somebody listens; until shoulders pick her up and carry her to understanding and healing of unspeakable trauma.

* Alias used to protect identity

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

A Young Life prepared for her Future – The Story of *Jessy’s Medical Journey at Bramley’s Children Home

*Jessy was born into a family that struggled financially as both her parents were unemployed. The family lived in suspect places and alcohol was a constant. It was a struggle to survive and Jessy was not enrolled in Grade 1 when she was old enough. It simply was not a priority. She and her brother were placed in foster care with a family, but it was unsuccessful as the foster parents also lost their jobs. When *Jessy was 11 years old she and her brother found a home at Bramley Children’s Home.

She adapted quickly and found comfort in the stability that Bramley Children’s Home offered.  But Jessy was battling more than just the setbacks that she already lived through. She has a medical condition namely Maffucci Syndrome. It is a disorder that primarily affects the skin and bones by multiple benign growths of cartilage that develop within the bones. Because of this condition, Jessy had knock knees and an operation was needed. A doctor volunteered her services and the operation was successfully done. The help of the doctor reduced the financial impact on Bramley Children’s Home. The condition also caused a growth on Jessy’s arm and although she already had an operation on her arm, more operations are needed in the future. Her teeth also needed attention and Bramley took her to get orthodontic help. 

The circumstances of her parents improved and they are now renting a single room, which means that Jessy and her brother can visit their parents every second weekend. Although she enjoys visiting her parents she returns to Bramley with a gratefulness and a new zeal to make the best of every opportunity.

Jessy is a young girl that dares to dream about a better future. She darts to and fro on the soccer field. Her focus fixed on the soccer ball. She takes part in cultural activities but never neglects her academic school work. She is an achiever. She is a go-getter. She just simply refuses that anything robs her of her dreams.

Jessy is dreaming of one day becoming a doctor. The doctor that helped *Jessy with her knee and arm operations invited her to come and shadow for a day or two to find out what the medical profession is all about. Perhaps one day *Jessy will also be part of that team of doctors that helps to lift and carry children on their shoulders to enable them to reach a better future. 

* Alias used to protect identity