“But I don’t understand! Why does she prefers the stuff that comes out of a bottle to…to me?” Shania looked up at Brenda beseechingly. Brenda, a worker at Kidstop, put out her arms and held the little girl close. She sobbed as if her heart would break. “My Mummy holds me like this, when she’s…when she’s okay…and I love it. I love her. Why does that horrid drink take her away from me?”
Brenda had no words. What could she say that would explain the lure of alcohol to a ten year old? All Shania wanted was her Mother’s arms enfolding her. It was not to be.
Shania is one of countless children that Kidstop, a branch of the Youth for Christ charity in George encounter daily. It is a drop in centre for children between the ages of 6 and 18.
Byron is one of my favourites. He is an eight year old imp with a mop of curly hair that frames a face that is alive, inquiring and laughter filled. He came in from playing soccer outside, took some orange squash and gulped it down. His ball was tucked under his arm. He wasn’t letting it out of his sight! “My Dad will be really proud when he sees how good I am with this ball.” His hand picked up one of the sandwiches. “Jiss, you should see me go. No one can get the ball away from me!” Byron’s Dad was in the second year of his fifteen year prison sentence.
Kidstop have a teaching programme for children that have never attended school or have simply dropped out. Their aim is to get them to a level that enables them to be re-integrated into mainstream schooling. Those that are too old to be placed into schools are taught life skills.
Kidstop also provides an after-school facility. The children get help with their homework, as well as an opportunity to do laundry at the centre. Many of the children live in squatter huts and the simplest tasks are very difficult. In addition to breakfast, the children are also given a cooked meal at about 3 o’clock. For some, this is their last meal of the day.
Another leg of Kidstop is their community programme, where they work with children actually living on the street. They gain their trust. The ultimate goal is to get them to attend the classes at Kidstop rather than beg or steal.
Dommie is a thirteen year old that is rebelling against the world. His mother has died and he has no one. He has been put into foster care but regularly runs away and has been caught stealing. My heart cracks at this. Please, Lord, don’t let him run off the rails completely!
In Blanco, Kidstop have a house where street children can live for up to six months. The house mother works with these children with the aim of getting them back with their own families.
Kidstop look after approximately 60 and 100 children per day. As one Kidstop employee said: “We have the privilege of serving the most precious children you could wish to meet. They bring so much joy into our lives.”
While I curse our society for needing such organisations, I give a prayer of thanks for charities like Kidstop.
Disclaimer: To protect privacy name in this story have been changed.
If you are interested in helping Kidstop or would like to learn more,
please contact: Jonathan Gelderbloem – Project Director
Tel: 0027 44 874 2624 or 0027 82 687 2588