There is a buzz in the air and it feels like SPRING!
There is a buzz in the air and it feels like SPRING! We feel warm and love seeing the blue skies and smelling the blossoms. This makes us all feel happy.
Today it is Mum Violet’s birthday followed by THIRTEEN more birthdays for children in September. Mum Vi is one of the mums at the Centre where the big boys live. They have lots of uncles there because so many kids don’t have good father role models, but Mum Vi and Mum Noli bring a soft touch. Everyone needs to know a mum’s love.
This month I am lucky enough to tell you about MY home at the Kids Haven Village which is where all the girls and the small boys live. It is not far from the centre – maybe ten minutes – but it is in the suburbs and much quieter than being in town.
I have been living in Sunrise House for many years. My mum wasn’t able to look after me because she was sick and wasn’t coping so my sisters and brother and I came to Kids Haven when I was just 11 years old. There are six houses in our Village. They have different names – Sunshine House, Sunflower House, Starlight House, Sugarbush House, Sunrise House and finally Rainbow House. Sunflower House is for new girls and Rainbow House is for small kids and the rest of the girls and small boys live in the other houses. I think there are 97 children living here.
We all socialize together and enjoy the big front garden together. It is also where we catch the school transport or get the bus to go to the Centre if we are visiting the Psychologist or one of our social workers or going to an event. We have mums who live here with us, and some Uncles and our social workers visit us here or we can see them at the main centre. Each house is separate with different meals and activities but we also mix a lot. We are not allowed to move houses although Kids Haven does change some of us around when we get older or we have lived here longer. Boys move to the centre in town after their 13th birthday.
Our houses are nice and visitors have decorated our doors and our walls so that every room is bright. It feels like spring every day in some of the houses!
In our garden we have this outdoor gym equipment. We are always hanging on these things, stretching and pushing or pulling. Sometimes we have proper training sessions with the mums when we use the equipment properly or we do group exercises in the big driveway. Apparently many years ago our driveway was actually a road and that’s why we even have a street light in the middle of the garden! The council comes and changes the globe if it goes out. We have played night cricket too!
Different kids live in the different houses. Rainbow House is for the little kids. They get to play outside a lot and they even have a fairy garden. I think Aunty Terri makes sure that these kids get to have lots of loves and cuddles. I am not the only child at Kids Haven who came here with my brothers and sisters. It happens quite a lot. I think that it is a good thing that families can keep together. I have three older brothers and sisters who didn’t come to Kids Haven when I did, but I get to visit them and keep in touch with them.
My mum passed away just a few months after I arrived which was horrible for us. Kids Haven helped us to go home for the funeral and we have also been able to go home for some other traditional events since then. We had some counselling and therapy especially around losing my mom, and then I had more therapy around two years later when it hit me hard again. I guess that is the way grief can be.
It has been complicated because my dad couldn’t look after us, and in the end he turned out to be my step-dad. We had to do DNA testing so that I could get my identity document. Kids Haven really helped a lot to get it for me and my brother and sister. We were told that we were born at home and that’s why we didn’t have a birth certificate. In South Africa, you can only get an ID if one or both of your parents have an ID and are South African. If you are born here but your parents come from somewhere else, then you can’t. We had to go to Home Affairs in Benoni often to fill in different forms and even have interviews. It turned out my mom had two different surnames and even after Uncle Sam’s team travelled to the Free State and talked to people, relatives and neighbours in the Eastern Cape, they couldn’t unravel the details of where my mother was from. Home Affairs makes it quite difficult to get documents and lots of people give up trying because it is expensive to keep travelling to research and in and out for interviews. Uncle Sam’s team often pays for people to keep coming back and they visit hospitals and even graves to search through old records to find any kind of proof at all of where people were born or where they died.
Kids Haven is very determined to help us get our ID documents and stuff because it is part of their Protection priority. Everybody has the right to have a name and a citizenship of a country. You must belong to your country so that you can be protected by the laws of the country. My journey to get my ID was a really long one with lots of twists and turns but Kids Haven kept on trying. In the end, it turned out that DNA tests proved that I was a South African citizen because my sister and I share the same DNA and SHE was South African! Luckily for me I got my brand new ID card in February 2020 just before lockdown. Since then, Home Affairs has stopped all the interviews and things that you need to do to get an ID if you don’t have a birth certificate. There are a few kids at Kids Haven who haven’t been able to get their ID’s yet because they’ve been closed. In the meantime, Kids Haven has helped with DNA tests and background research but they are all stuck until Home Affairs gets going. Having an ID means that I can look forward to pursuing my dream of becoming a nurse and ask NSFAS to help me. I laugh now because when I was about 13, all I wanted to be was a fashion designer!
Different kids live in different houses and Kids Haven mixes some younger boys with older girls, and has some houses that are just for girls. So it also happens that brothers and sisters can be together at the Village although they don’t live in the same house. One of the older brothers of two younger sisters lives in a different house from them because he is two years older than his next sister. But they see each other every day when everyone is in the garden and we can visit in the different houses. Kids Haven always makes sure that brothers and sisters can celebrate birthdays together, even if they are in different houses. We love our birthdays – we get amazing cakes, usually with our names on, plus special cold drinks and chips and sweets. It feels like a party! Aunty Terri sends us a present and we always sing Happy Birthday in English, then again in Zulu and we have this loud rhyme about “how old are you now?” we keep asking “Are you six?” Noooo “Are you seven?” Noooo until we reach the right age and then everyone shouts and it is loud and happy.
After September, the next BIG birthday celebration will be Kids Haven’s own birthday! It is turning 29 years old on the 13th October. Kids Haven always makes this a special day by having a home party braai celebration fun day!
One of the most exciting things for me is when the older kids who don’t live at Kids Haven anymore come back for days like this. I love it especially when Tumi comes back. She lived for a few years at Kids Haven but is now a teacher at a school in Pretoria. She started there in 2021 and had to move there so that she could be closer to her work. We have even heard that her Principal thinks she is amazing! I think she is sharing a flat with Rebecca who also lived at Kids Haven and who studied x-ray radiology at UJ. She finished studying last year but she is doing her community service at a hospital in Pretoria in 2021 and gets a proper job next year. I want to be like Rebecca and work in hospitals. It is very nice when we see these guys again. I imagine that I can be like Tumi and Rebecca and do more studying. Kids Haven doesn’t chase us out when we finish Matric – although we have to keep following the rules. This can be so frustrating sometimes because we feel like rules are for the little kids and we are over 18. But, that’s just the way it is.
My friend who finished Matric last year is actually working at Kids Haven in the preschool while she is doing the course work. She has theory to learn and then completes her practical at the preschool. She should finish this in 2021 and be ready to start as a qualified preschool teacher in 2022. Some kids leave Kids Haven while they are still at school – they go back to their families or to live with an aunt or someone. But if you stay at Kids Haven like me, then after Matric, we carry on staying here while we study or work or do Aunty Adele’s youth programme. You have to do something! These last few months of the year are hectic for us in Matric after all the missed schooling last year. But we are getting on with studying and writing prelims while researching and applying for different study options for next year. Kids Haven helps us to apply to NSFAS for funding if we are going to university or college. It’s not so easy for my friends who are not South African but somehow Kids Haven looks for a way that they can get skills or qualifications after finishing school.
Thank you for visiting MY home this month.
There is still so much more that I can say, but instead I can share some of these links to our social media on Facebook or Instagram and to our website. Please be part of our Kids Haven family. It makes a difference to me and to other children like me here and even in the community. You can volunteer yourself if you look here or even here on For Good – click on ‘opportunities’. You can get your kids to help us too and earn community hours. There are some ideas here. Feel free to call the office at 011 706 7959 to find out more.
Please think about making a cash donation here – especially for our birthday coming up in October. That will be a HUGE help. If you want to make special daisy cakes or help us to have meat for a braai, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Maybe you can be a special friend to Kids Haven? Would you also consider helping us every month – being a part of providing care and protection to any child at Kids Haven? When you make a regular monthly donation of just R100 a month or more, Kids Haven is able to do what needs doing so that every child can be hopeful for the future. This link takes you to a secure page to make your monthly commitment. If you want to find out more, please contact email@example.com and we can share more details.
Everyone who donates any money, whether it is once or every month, gets a tax receipt and enjoys some tax savings for helping us.
Enjoy the rest of September. Thank you for caring about Kids Haven.
Sam and everyone at Kids Haven