“Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.” Barak Obama
Father’s Day has recently come and gone – a special day to celebrate a special person but sadly a difficult day for millions of South African children who don’t live with their fathers or even know their fathers. We need good men to be in the lives of children and at Kids Haven, we take this opportunity to speak to some of the men at Kids Haven who are courageously raising other men’s children every day.
Siya (Social Worker) – “I was raised by a single mom without stable income – and no father around, he abandoned me before I was even born. It was a tough start and my mom struggled to meet my needs. I feel that I was cut off from information and knowledge that could have positively impacted my life.
Fortunately, I received the chance to study further, and I specifically chose social work so that I can help children like me to have access to resources and information that they need when growing up. My siblings and I feel like we grew up in an unjust world – I don’t want other children to feel that way. South Africa is for everyone and the care that Kids Haven gives can demonstrate to every child that he or she is WORTH it. No child must feel cast-aside as if his or her life does not matter.
I would like to encourage fathers to search for their children – it is never too late to build a bond with your child, but it will not be easy. A younger child can be easily won over, but an older child needs time. These fathers need to recognise that abandoned children are hurt children. Acknowledge your mistake in discarding your child and get help from others to rebuild your relationship. Kids Haven can help with that, and we do help with that every time we gather men and boys together. These are emotional gatherings, and we are grateful to the men who absorb the sadness of the boys and stand in for their fathers or acknowledge their mistakes as fathers.
I don’t have my own child yet, but I am glad to play a role in the lives of so many children at Kids Haven. Together we can turn things around, and every child can feel wanted and important.”
“My name is John, and I am the father of a six-year-old child. I too did not grow up with my biological parents, so I had to become responsible for my own life at a young age. I spent some of my life in a children’s home and was encouraged by them to volunteer to help with childcare. I loved it. Volunteering grew my interest in young people, and I took an opportunity to study youth development so that I could return to Kids Haven and motivate others who are living the same life that I did.
Boys and girls at Kids Haven – you are not alone. Take these experiences like fuel and fill up your tanks! You can rely on yourself, with help from people who walked a similar road. Be hopeful.
My message to fathers of children who are living at Kids Haven is to come and get involved in your child’s life. There will be a beautiful transformation in our society if every father can be involved in raising his children. It is very hard growing up without a father. Be responsible and take care of your children. You impact future generations by caring for your children now.”
Uncle Pat is the biological father of five children and the patient and caring father of many, many children who have lived at Kids Haven or who live here now. “I love to meet the needs of my children and to know that every action that I take can be positive. It is definitely challenging! Hurt children are angry children or frustrated children. They don’t have the words to tell you, so they behave in crazy ways, showing you how hurt and sad they are. But it is possible to reach every child by staying positive and finding the way to show how much each child is important. I want to encourage fathers to be good role models. Your children are watching what you do. Life isn’t easy but your children are watching how you cope with everything that life throws at you. They will learn from you. Their resilience will change their world. To our Kids Haven children who don’t know their dads. Don’t focus on the people who are not here. Instead look at who is around you and how they are living their lives. Watch them. Copy them. We are role models to the children, and they will be the future generations who can be good role models to their own children.”
B – a past child from Kids Haven agrees.
“Growing up without a father can mess you up for life but your life is in your own hands. You can make the choice to be like that bad father who didn’t even know you, or you can choose to be like the fathers and uncles at Kids Haven who enjoy spending time with you. Just watch them. They show you how to behave and how to be a man. Then make your own choice. You have a future when you make the right choice.”
Kids Haven completed a five session GBV programme with older boys in May 2022. These are some of their words:
“What I learnt is that as a child exposed to gender-based violence. As a child as you experience such things every day you get scared for life, like you have trauma, you have memories, you when you grow up you end up making mistakes with normal things, even in your eyes it looks bad but actually legally it is a wrong thing.”
“What I learnt about violence… like when there is someone you are staying with; like a woman and a young child, sometimes you should teach yourself to talk nicely to your child or the woman you are staying or living with. You should learn to sit down and talk. You should know that what you agree on will succeed, so that you can be together as family. So that when you wake up in the morning you wake up nicely and greet each other not just to wake up and stare at each other. I learnt that as you grow up you should be a father who doesn’t abuse his wife and children. When you grow up you should learn that if you are a woman and there is someone abusing you, you learn to speak to someone whom you stay with. Someone who stays next door or a friend whom you love and trust. Someone who can also share from a difficult situation, she has been through. So that you can talk to each other. We must teach each other and live together. It is painful to learn about life when you abuse your responsibilities as a man.”
Thank you to the Uncles and Fathers who share the lives of children at Kids Haven and who walk the talk of courageous fatherhood every day.
Please join Kids Haven for in-person volunteering on Mandela Day 18, July 2022. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Please help Kids Haven with your cash donation to Nedbank, Kids Haven, Account 1948 063 824 and let us know who you are so that we can send you a tax receipt and thank you properly. Kids Haven simply cannot meet the needs of children without your care and support.
We also appreciate your second hand donations – contact us on WhatsApp 071 860 0505 to drop off or arrange collection. We use, share and sell what we receive to sustain the care and protection of children at the Centre and in community.
We hope to see you in July,
Thank you for caring
CEO Kids Haven
You can get involved by volunteering, donating money or second hand goods.
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