“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou
13 October 2022
– a special anniversary to celebrate 30 years of care and protection for children. How can we sum up thirty years in one short note?
There is no other way than to share the stories of children who have passed through our doors over three decades. They have found safety here. They have found care here. They have found resilience here. It is always about the children.
Young Lionel* came to Kids Haven through the Donation Office!
Not quite a bag of second-hand clothing, but rather an overwhelmed grandfather needing a safe space for his grandson. He lived at Kids Haven from 2002 coming back to Joburg every weekend on the Donation bakkie to spend time with his grandpa. And then catching a lift back to our home in Benoni. In time, home circumstances improved, and little Lionel could go back to his family home where he would continue to be safe and protected. An interesting donation that brought many blessings.
Mike* joined Kids Haven at much the same time as Lionel. He was older, without family. Quiet but watching. Listening. Mike left Kids Haven as a young man and went out to live his life. He called us “you are the only people I call family. I have met a young woman. Please come to my wedding and be my family”. We celebrated this wonderful event with him, representing Mike to the bride’s family. Six months later he visited us in Benoni with his new wife. Whenever we travel to KZN, we visit him too.
“Having started at Kids Haven in 1994 I was absolutely certain that in ten years’ time the country would have such a robust structure, a safety net for children, that I could move on to other things, that Kids Haven’s staff would not be needed because there was a system in place that moved all the vulnerable to safety, because our intention was to build a healthy society that protected and cared for everybody. Here we are 28 years into our Democracy, 30 years into delivering care and protection. Our work hasn’t got smaller – it got bigger. We don’t wait for children to come into our safe home, after having experienced trauma and hurt. Now we are doing so much to support families and communities to protect and care for their own children right where they are. We simply have to find a way to promote family care. A home that is safe. Bonds and connections that strengthen a child’s heart and prepare him for life.” Adele Pillay – Programme Manager
One day I took a walk with 9-year-old Ben* and bought a juice for him. He enjoyed it very much and said, “I wish my mum could take a walk with me.” It is amazing that simple things like a walk, a hug, juice can make someone else happy.
Kids Haven is my home. I have lived here most of my life. I have learned a lot of things here like how to look after my children and myself. Kids Haven took me back to school, I matriculated and that made me happy. The love I received from the Kids Haven staff allowed me to be a better person because I can now love myself . Nono*
My name is Thatho*. I came to KH in 2011 after the Police found me roaming on the streets. I am originally from Zimbabwe, and I came to South Africa with my friend to look for a better life. I grew up with my mum but don’t know anything about my father and his family. My mum used to work in a tavern and would bring boyfriends home. In 2003, when I was about five, my mum became sick, so I had to live with my aunt. Then I was moved to another aunt. I only found out two years later that my mother died back in 2003. I carried on staying with my aunt and her family, going to school, and finishing grade five. I felt like this was my real family, but my cousins would tease me and say I didn’t belong to the family . I didn’t get the same things that my aunt’s children got. My cousin used to say bad things about my mom and make me do the cleaning. I was often beaten. They told me that I would never progress with my studies and that I would always be a failure.
With all this teasing and abuse, I became the difficult child that they told me I was. I used to go to parties and to church, even if I wasn’t invited. My aunt called me a thief because I took food. She told me that I was possessed with evil spirits. I started going to hang about the streets and go back home to sleep outside the house at night. Sometimes I would bath at a friend. I preferred the streets to home.
I decided to run away from home permanently in October 2010 to stay on the streets. During the day I would beg. I was still in Zimbabwe and was placed into the Street Ahead Shelter. I was there for a year when I met a girl who told me about the good life to be had in South Africa. I got money begging in the streets, so we managed to get a bus ride, with other passengers helping us too. We made it to Beit Bridge, then got through the border where we managed to get a taxi ride. Little by little we made it town-by-town to Johannesburg. Devising strategies to hitch another ride, sometimes getting the fare sponsored and sometimes running away when the door opened without paying. In the end we made it all the way to Joburg. My friend went off with a man who offered her a job. I stayed on the streets. The police picked me up and brought me to Kids Haven. For the first time in my life, I now feel I have a home to stay in. I went back to school. I got asylum papers while I was here.
Today Thatho lives in Daveyton with her partner and their children. She is a good mother and the family looks just like any other in the community.
My name is Nancy*. I am a Chartered Accountant. I was born in Katlehong and grew up with my brothers raised only by my mother. When I was eleven my mom died. Two of my brothers were old enough to look after themselves but I was too young. My younger brother went to my mother’s family, but there was no space for me. I was all alone.
I felt as if it was the end of the world.
I moved into Kids Haven in December. I was given clothes, toiletries, food, and my own bed. I even received Christmas presents and a birthday present for the first time in my life. There were caregivers who made sure that I bathed, had eaten and even if I was making friends. I met social workers who were concerned about my emotional and psychological well-being and who helped me with the loss of my mother and even my brothers.
Kids Haven is a place that encourages and recognises excellence. My excellence was in academics, and this did not go unnoticed. Kids Haven made sure that I was one of the girls who applied to be part of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls. They fully supported me throughout the whole selection process. In 2007, I was chosen to be part of the first group at Oprah School.
Kids Haven never left my side. Like all the other girls at the Academy who had parents, I also got visitors on weekends. I even had snacks brought from home to eat during the week at school. Kids Haven encouraged me to follow my dreams when I considered studying in the States (USA). They supported me when I was chosen by the Academy to take part in the Academy’s first USA College Trip for two weeks. They were also there for me when I dropped out of the USA College process and decided to study in South Africa.
In 2011 I wrote my final Matric exams and I passed successfully with 5 distinctions. I got a bursary to study Chartered Accountancy at the University of Johannesburg from Ernst and Young. Now I am working as a professional accountant.
Sometimes I wonder where I would be if it were not for Kids Haven. But I know this much: I wouldn’t have experienced that love my mom once gave me again; I would have forgotten how it feels to have a family; I know I wouldn’t be half the young lady that I am today.
Themba* was placed at Kids Haven in 2019 with “family: unknown” in his file. But he could remember his mom and shared this with his care worker. We felt that there must be some way to find out a little bit more about mom. It was clear that Themba had loving memories of his mother so how had things gone wrong? Through asking and asking and returning to the area that Themba came from, Kids Haven began to learn about the family, hearing about a mother who had become ill, and the children being taken into care. A few more cups of tea with strangers, another road trip and Kids Haven found Themba’s mom in an adult care centre in not too far from Benoni.
The first time that Themba saw his mother it was clear that THIS was indeed her. She loves her son and we have been able to make sure that Themba visits regularly. At the visits, his mom shows her pride in her son, walking around the centre and showing him off to everyone. Themba loves her too. When he comes home from a visit, he always says that the visits are too short. He tells many stories about his mum and shares stories of what he is doing with her.
Goentse* “Thank you for the Care Leavers group, I learnt a lot, it helped me during the time of going home.”
Care Leavers programme is for children age 16+ who will exit Kids Haven once they complete their schooling – anytime from 18 – 21. They move into the Aftercare Programme with ongoing support.
Andile* “Thank you for not giving up on me.”
Tina “I’m really grateful to the Care Leaver family of Uncle John, Uncle Leonard and Adele because as the days went by, I started to enjoy the programme, going on camp, I went with two groups. I have come to the conclusion that life is valuable and it is a long hard and tough journey and GIVING UP IS NOT AN OPTION.”
Sam Mokgopha Care Leaver Graduation 2021: “Take your lives seriously. Take the things we teach you as valuable. This time will never come back again. Consider this as a positive step to the next level of your life. As you graduate from Care Leaver’s use the skills you have acquired for personal development. As a Young Adult graduating, that goes with responsibility. Don’t live recklessly. Don’t allow people to bully you. The world does not owe you. When you mess up, don’t point fingers, take responsibility so that caring adults will stand with you. Take life as a life-long learning. We are all still open to learning. It is not only book knowledge. You are a moving being. No one is perfect. We all keep on improving. Careers are important. Education cannot be replaced. Do what you need to do to live independently. Your aim should be to become self-sustainable. Ask yourself ‘How can I do things on my own and How can I be my best.”
This is a mere sprinkling of stories in the past thirty years. We hope that you can see the consistency of care that underpins each year, whether in the 1990’s the 2000’s right up to this month in October 2022.
We believe wholeheartedly that Kids Haven is a place where every child can belong. Thank you for your care for Kids Haven and the protection that you provide to us as an organization with every donation, social media Share or volunteer action that you offer. These thirty years have flown by. We have seen more than five thousand children come through our doors. Their stories are difficult. All children carry hurt and trauma. In this safe space, it is possible to find the healing and support to build resilience for the future.
These children – all children – remain the focus of our attention. Our WHY.
Thank you for being a part of this BIG anniversary. Will you make sure that we are still here in years to come?
Your valuable monthly donation of just R100 can collectively contribute to provide care and protection to children and families in the future.
We don’t like to dwell on the challenges in South Africa, but we recognise and expect that the need for child protection and support will continue – whether in communities or in our residential home. At our core is the vulnerable child. Kids Haven is bigger now, broader, offering holistic support to stop child neglect and abuse at a family level and a community level. The Children’s Home remains. Perhaps in time, this will grow smaller, if we can succeed in making families stronger. We hope so. We hope that you will help us to be what we need to be into the next decade.
Please pledge your monthly donation now via a debit order here or set up your own recurring monthly EFT to Kids Haven at Nedbank 1948 063 824. Please send us your details via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you your tax receipt. Monthly donors receive a composite tax receipt at the end of the tax year specifying each monthly donation by date for the year.
If your Company would like to focus on one aspect of our organization, please let us know. Kids Haven is a fully registered Non-Profit Company, non-profit Organization and public benefit organisation. We issue section 18a receipts, provide BBBEE details and welcome volunteer engagements. These are our programmes – do they fit your Company CSI? Our latest annual report is online here for a comprehensive picture.
Thank you for protecting and caring for children with Kids Haven.
Sam, Terri and all at Kids Haven
You can get involved by volunteering, donating money or second hand goods.
If you think your company could help make a difference please contact us.