Update: March 2008 – August 2008

This is a report of all our current projects based on my visit in August 2008.

Child Protection workshop
I was approached by a Clinical Psychologist who works with disturbed children and families - her local community had decided to put on a community awareness afternoon for parents, teachers, and ECDC and health professionals. I agreed [it is right up our street] and the committee got to work obtaining sponsorship from the local media, Vodacom and some small business folk.


 What has happened in the last 6 months? The workshop was held in June, nearly 80 people attended and the speakers were national figures; more people would have attended but unfortunately the date planned and booked was in the middle of the xenophobic attack period and travel was a problem. It was very well evaluated and next year it will happen again, learning from this year.



They run very local community outreach and drop-in services in Soweto for women, children and families. We support them with monthly stipends for 6 volunteers who provide group, community and outreach work.

What has happened in the last 6 months? All the volunteers have now been through both levels of the CATTS training in counselling and identifying/dealing with child abuse. Each one carries a caseload of between 8 and 10 OVC/families, and all work in the drop-in centre.

Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre
This is a centre that is right in the heart of a very troubled and traumatised urban area where the recent outbreaks of violence have impacted hugely on the local populace and the staff at the centre. We have supported and trained volunteers working with abused families and children, these volunteers have all been training as Auxiliary Social Workers over the last 9 months.

What has happened in the last 6 months? All the volunteer workers are now qualified ASWs and five [from 11] have already secured permanent posts so the work of the centre can expand. Remember the Ghetto Boys? 8 of them have recently qualified as artisans – plumbers, electricians, carpenters – skills very much in demand, so they too have a completely different future, and can be amazingly positive role models.

Childline Limpopo
We began funding an ECDC north of Polokwane and in a rural area where small children were routinely being abused. We started with places for 25 and the numbers of identified OVC have mushroomed.
In February we agreed to organise a conference for academics and practitioners entitled “Understanding the Sexual Abuse of Pre-School Children: From research to practice” in partnership with the Open University, Childline and Limpopo University. It was partly to introduce our PhD student to local practitioners and researchers, but also to bring together and raise awareness amongst academics and professionals in childcare around the province. The costs were largely covered by a grant from the OU.Lunch

What has happened in the last 6 months? 96 children are now registered, the four volunteers running the ECDC are supported with part-stipends from us, we have funded their training and we have just approved the stipends for 2 new p/t cooks. Childline provides part of the volunteer’s stipends, the daily supplies of food and drink and some equipment. The crèche is a joy to visit – the children are clearly all living in harsh conditions with poor hygiene and food, but they are singing, learning the basics and safe during the day.

The conference was a huge success and I will post the main findings on the website soon however it is good to know that our works fits extremely well with what is known to have a very positive effect on breaking the cycle of abuse—but we could do more, much more.

Childline North West
In the middle of 2007 we worked with Childline NW to fund the development and delivery of a pilot training programme for leaders of local crèches/Early Childhood Development Centres {ECDCs}. The programme covers all aspects of the child development, abuse and early learning; it was completed, evaluated and adapted with the help of the first trainees. We then gave the go-ahead to Childline NW to print 100 training manuals and deliver this training to crèche/ECDC leaders this year. This is a really exciting piece of work as the trainees are SO positive about what they learn and can put into practice; it also has the potential to be disseminated to hundreds of crèche/ECDC leaders across the whole country.

What has happened in the last 6 months? 100 training manuals have been printed, used and distributed to other Childline offices and the UK. 48 ECDC/crèche leaders trained. See other Childline reports – we are working at a national level to get this programme adopted by all 9 Childline offices

This is a new service for us in 2008; they are undertaking the training of volunteers in a sprawling rural area where poverty is at the extreme, the numbers of child-headed families is very high and the influence of rogues and charlatans promotes some very nasty behaviour towards children. The accredited training that we fund lasts 45 days for each group of 15 and covers all aspects of home based care for OVC and vulnerable adults, the abuse of children - how to protect them and what to do if abuse is suspected - and breaking down the traditions of lies, myths and half-truths that encourage violence against the vulnerable.

Imi volunteersHaving met and spoken with 19 of the people so far trained they are extremely positive about what they now know and can do to help people. They all travel on foot and are becoming the eyes and ears of the community, so can pick up and help to deal with issues of abuse, illness, cruelty or deviancy. Unfortunately they are also identifying high numbers of child malnutrition. This is a hugely positive project.

What has happened in the last 6 months? The training of 30 volunteers is completed, and a further 30 planned for the next 6 months. The trained volunteers have all taken on an increased caseload, they are dealing with more serious issues and many more cases of abuse have been uncovered.

Johannesburg Child Welfare Society/Child Abuse Treatment and Training Centre [CATTS]
CATTS is the specialist service we have been partnering with for over 2 years now; between us we have developed specialist 8 and 10 days courses for volunteers and community workers. JCWS has now developed a detailed programme to train auxiliary social workers [ASW] working in children and family services.

What has happened in the last 6 months? They have completed 3 training programmes, one at Level 2 and two at Level 1 for a total of 42 people. The ASW programme is started for 40 people and we are funding 5 places. We are now in discussion about a major project of training and developing skills for the next 3 years – assuming we get the funding.

Khanyisile Children Centre
This a centre for orphans and vulnerable children [OVC] under the age of 6yrs, and a team of volunteers who visit and support families where children are seriously at risk. Volunteers work with children either in the community teams or in the day care centre. From initially taking in 30 children, there are now 52 small children registered of whom about ¾ turn up each day; as a result of the training we have funded, they now have a team of people trained to counsel families and children, the OVC team has a waiting list of families referred to them, they each carry a caseload of 15 OVC/families and more and more incidents of abuse are being reported.Khanyisile

What has happened in the last 6 months? We continue to part-fund the stipends of 10 volunteer workers working with OVC and they have been able to help a further 130 families

This year we were planning to help Topsy set-up an additional outreach service into their local community where approximately 4,000 people live with very few services, no employment and in deep poverty. We were also keeping funds to assist them develop a local ECDC for the small children. The ECDC are now setup without any assistance for us. We hold funds in reserve for the training of their staff.

What has happened in the last 6 months? We await developments

The Teddy Bear Clinic
This is a world renowned specialist centre for treating abused children in Johannesburg. We have been supporting them for 3 years now with funds to provide transport for abused children to obtain ongoing support and therapy. This year we are funding a further 25 children to get treatment. We also committed to funding the bursaries of three childcare workers to access a specialist graduate programme specifically to learn more about child abuse and appropriate management of such families.

What has happened in the last 6 months? The travel of 13 children for therapy following abuse has been funded. The graduate programme was abandoned for various reasons so we are discussing others ways to support their work, in particular the training programme they are devising for the police services based on the new children's legislation.

Four planned projects with some of the above partners haven’t, due to local capacity issues and the outbreak of xenophobic violence in May, got off the ground but we are in constant discussion about what we can best do together next to help protect small children

Plans for the future

Big Shoes
This is another service that we are just getting to know; it concentrates on ensuring all children taken into care [rescued children] have a complete medical/health examination so psycho-social and medical therapy can be accurately focussed. They are keen for us to fund their training of foster/home carers to maintain the health programmes on a day-to-day level.

Botshabelo Home for Abused Children
This is one of the best homes for rescued tots we have visited. The history of these children from 4 months to 5 years is indescribably awful and all are for adoption/fostering. The home is warm, homely, caring and they work hard to give the children the love and warmth they have missed. No plans yet, but a lovely place.

Childline Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga is a vast province fraught with problems as they have the usual difficulties of deprivation, poverty and crime; the province is the route from Swaziland and Mozambique with all the travails that the thousands of incomers bring, and they have many traditional ideas influencing the local populace – the virgin myth, amongst other myths, seems to be active here. We are just beginning to have discussions with Childline, and we are hoping that over the next few months we can put together a project over 18 months to 2 years to train up to 250 ECDC leaders with a similar programme to the one devised in the North West Province – providing of course we can secure the funding! Training

Child Welfare Organisation, Limpopo
There are child welfare offices all over the place and we are talking to our friends here about setting up a training programme for 94 volunteers all working with OVC and families in very far flung rural places where, often, the traditional healer / Chief holds sway – sometimes this is positive for the health and welfare of children and families, sometimes very negative; again, we need secured funding before we progress.

I have made contact with the dynamic leader of a network of childcare community project leaders to explore developing work into the Western Cape Province. In November I will visit several projects with her.

Our annual report and financial statement will be available by mid-September, but essentially we have been able to commit around £85,000 to projects this year without breaking the bank. The possible new projects will require greater efforts in fundraising – so please help if you can.

Organisational Development
Also during my visit this August I have started the process of registering as a NGO in SA – we have to start with registering as a charitable trust and this whole process will take a while. We are most fortunate that we have an expert in South Africa helping us with this who isn’t making a charge … lucky us.

Ultimately we need much more money to build on all this work – there are so many children abused and at risk from within all sectors of this society

There is SO much to do to help BREAK THE CYCLE.

Lesley Rudd
Chief Executive
the infant trust

Our project locations

Map of South Africa

We are not sending any more toys to South Africa. If you would like to donate then please contact the lovely people at: http://theteddytrust.wixsite.com/home

We are proud and honoured that our work has been recognised by the UK Prime Minister, and that he has given Lesley his Point of Light award, stating
With the Infant Trust Lesley has empowered thousands of women across South Africa to protect and safeguard children in their communities. The education and training she has provided has helped to improve the lives of over 800,000 children, tackling the violence and abuse that affects too many of them in their early years. As we mark International Women’s Day this week I am delighted to recognise all that Lesley has done.”
You can find the full story at https://www.pointsoflight.gov.uk/2268-2/
Why are so many small children abused by male perpetrators in South Africa? Our researcher interviewed 27 perpetrators in prison in South Africa; all are in jail after being found guilty of some of the most terrible crimes against some of the most vulnerable children – some as young as a few days old. Those interviewed are all men aged between 16 years and 84 years old, and all have brutalised and raped at least one child. But the findings aren’t maybe what we might expect – it makes interesting reading.  We have been funding research into this for 5 years and it is finally finished and published .

Our flagship Caring for Crèches programme has reached into some of the poorest communities in five of the nine provinces in South Africa and we have crèche leaders everywhere clamouring for the training. We have now trained over 2,200 people and they in turn have already positively impacted on the lives of over 160,000 children … and will continue to help many hundreds more children for years to come