It is from children that our world is made.
I am imagining a conversation between two six year old boys:
“It’s great that we got here early. I like running and catching the sarmie from the van window. They know me now and it’s a bit like playing rugby, when the ball is passed down the line! I would like to become a rugby player like Siya Kolisi.”
He pretended to pass a rugby ball. And then said: “I hope that I end up with an egg mayo samie.”
“Nah, the peanut butter and jelly is the one I want. Seymo had it yesterday and I swopped bites with him. Yoow, man, it tasted really cool!!!”
“Bet I can run faster than you!”
“Can you run and catch the sarmies at the same time? C’mon!”
Their laughing ‘Siya Kolisi’ echoed after them, as they ran for their sandwiches.
As they ran for life…..
This lockdown has affected everyone, especially children. Because of it, work is non-existent for many. My heart goes out to the poorer communities who are battling to feed their families. This is where George Child Welfare has stepped in so magnificently. In George, during the week, people make sandwiches for the underprivileged children. I have been staying with my friends, John & ‘B’ during lockdown, and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we make a loaf of egg mayonnaise sandwiches. B’s neighbour, Di, collects sandwiches from twelve people that are making them and drops them off at Child Welfare. They are then distributed to the eagerly awaiting children.
George Child Welfare believes that during this lockdown, it is important to let the children realise that they are still there for them. This lockdown is an unsettling feature in everyone’s lives. They don’t want the children to feel abandoned or deserted. They visit each district in need, smiling in greeting. The van is recognised and the smiles collide!
I already knew about George Child Welfare. Two years ago, a friend and I dropped off a bag of second hand children’s clothing at their HQ on Albert Street. It’s only since lockdown, however, that I have been made so aware of what a necessary and vital organisation it is.
Child Welfare aims to protect and enhance the lives of children.
In George, the organisation is directed by Sue Du Toit. She is a practical, down to earth person with the warmest heart and a dry sense of humour. She told me about their mobile library which fascinated me. This is filled with educational material for children between the ages of three and five. Each home based crèche which is made up of between fifteen to sixty kids, has the library for a month. Imagine the joy and delight as the children are introduced to the seven dwarves in Snow White and the antics of The Three Bears. I can just picture the excitement of having the mobile library arrive. Hearing wonderful stories read, learning how to count, recognising various colours must be an exhilarating experience.
George Child Welfare are unbelievably fortunate to have George philanthropist, Sabine Plattner’s patronage. Through her, a lifeline has been given to many vulnerable children and their families. Indeed it is through her generosity that houses have been bought which are invaluable to George Child Welfare. The first house is now a permanent home to six children and has a ‘Mum’. This house has been established for a year now. The other house is having final renovations done, then this too will open to six fortunate children.
There is also a ‘Safe’ House.
This is for children who are orphaned, have been abused and consequently removed from their homes or are just not being cared for at all. At least twelve children can stay here for up to three months. This is a place where they can literally catch their breath and while doing so, remember they are children!
If feasible, Child Welfare works to rehabilitate the family as a unit but failing this they find foster homes.
Under the umbrella of George Child Welfare, at least 725 children are currently in foster care. One foster mum, Jody, says: “A child born to another woman calls me ‘Mommy’. The magnitude of that tragedy and depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”
The open heartedness of being a foster parent is bountiful. The thing that is of prime importance is the child. I believe that a foster parent must deal out buckets of love. They mustn’t hold back, thinking: ‘This child is not with me forever. I must guard against loving too much.’
They must be lavish with their love. The child needs it!
Pre-lockdown, on some Saturday’s, George Child Welfare ran a training skills program. Children were shown how to protect themselves against abuse and bullying. They were told where to go for help. They found children in despair because their teachers had upbraided them for having dirty clothes. Their mothers hadn’t washed them. So the children were shown how to wash their clothes themselves. My heart gets very wide at the idea of six and seven year olds washing their own school uniforms.
George Child Welfare has a bus called Buddy. This, under normal conditions, travels daily into the under-privileged areas. It’s draw card is the hot meals it serves, but it also provides a place where children can ask for help with homework or learn life-skills. If children have problems then they can talk about it to someone with a friendly neutral ear. Child Welfare assist, on an average, between sixty to ninety kids a day.
‘Out of bad things, good can come!’ I am so pleased that through sandwich making during this virus time, I have had the opportunity to meet face to face, or should I say, mask to mask with Sue du Toit and her George Child Welfare team. Our Western Province Premier, Alan Winde recently said: “Use this Covid19 lockdown to share love!”
Forget about lockdown! George Child Welfare has been sharing love with children since 1925. Almost 100 years!
If with an egg sandwich I can bring a smile to one child’s face, my heart will answer with a radiant beam!
Anyone interested in donating to George Child Welfare can do so via EFT using the following information:
Bank: First National Bank, Account Name: George Child and Family Welfare
Branch Code: 210114, Account Type: Cheque, Account Number: 52291616310, Reference: I care