Update April - July 2006
Our first year was spent planning, organising, raising awareness and visiting South Africa [funded by specific donations and the trustees themselves] to undertake research and develop partnerships. We were also able to make some good small grants. All this time spent in preparation has helped us to start this year with a real zing.
In March we knew of the large staged grant that was coming our way in May. Thanks to this and other generous donations we have been able to set up several defined projects for three years. So now we are really able to start making a difference.
We continue in our intention to train as many people as we can in child protection issues and in a variety of settings, but mainly our training is aimed at volunteers as this can lead to several benefits:
- In the kinds of local organisations we are keen to work with, even if there are funds for staff or volunteers, there is rarely money for training
- With training, recognition of actual or potential abuse is more likely
- After training, abused infants/children will be treated more appropriately
- Volunteers who are trained provide a really skilled resource for their communities
- Training can help volunteers into properly paid employment in areas of very high unemployment
- Training helps to give volunteers real skills and a real sense of worth
So far this year we have set up three projects and given grants:
Project 1: Trained 15 volunteers and staff at Topsy.
Topsy is an organisation based in Johannesburg set up to help orphaned children, most of who are HIV+ or have active AIDS. At their sanctuary 50 miles south of the city, where the Topsy children live, they found that there was suddenly a huge swell in the numbers of people living locally in very dire circumstances – mostly due to unfounded rumours of employment – having travelled for hundreds of miles to find work. These are people who are living in the worse of circumstances; very high numbers of them have HIV/AIDs.
Topsy has taken on volunteers and some staff to work with the most vulnerable people and offer some support. Because there are so many small children living with an ‘other’ adult - the biological parents being dead - these children are at very high risk. We have worked with Topsy and the Child Abuse Treatment and Training Centre [CATTS], Johannesburg, [a specialist centre] to develop a new child protection training package for the nursery and home based workers to provide training on site for Topsy staff/volunteers.
The training was undertaken in English and the local language, founded in local need and legislation and had 100% attendance – anecdotally it has been very highly rated! When the course has been fully evaluated the infant trust will be funding the delivery of a second programme for a further 17 - 25 Topsy staff and volunteers.
Project 2: Funding 6 volunteers at a crisis centre
The crisis centres [Thutuzelas] are funded partly from the National Prosecution Services and partly by grants. The one we are supporting is trying to provide a service to a slum area of 1.5 million people SE of Johannesburg. Sinakekelwe Thutuzela is in the grounds of a sprawling district hospital and part of a mental health and trauma service. The intention is to support abused children from the point of abuse through the whole drawn out and difficult field of examination, questioning, trauma counselling and prosecution; research has shown that having the same person supporting the child offers the greatest chance of ‘recovery’. Having a stable volunteer force is the only way this can be done; it also provides a huge resource for the local community. the infant trust has guaranteed to fund a minimum of 6 volunteers a week at the centre; these funds will pay for a personal stipend and some subsistence. the infant trust is also buying two T-shirts for each of the volunteers as they have no money to buy clothing to come to work; the T-shirts will carry our logo.
Project 3: Funding training for volunteers
the infant trust is paying for an 11 week training course for 7 volunteers and staff from Sinakekelwe Thutuzela and a further 5 volunteers from a safe haven for children at risk in Alexandria township. This training is about the management, treatment and counselling of abused children. the infant trust has worked with CATTS and the Thutuzela over the last few weeks to devise and organise this training specifically for these volunteers
Grant for the Teddy Bear Clinic
This is a specialist centre that supports and helps abused children through the lengthy process of trauma counselling. Our grant is paying for the travel of children and their carers to the clinic as, otherwise, the children would not be able to get the help they so badly need.
Grant for Epworth Children’s Home
This is a home for orphaned and abused children. Children live in Epworth until foster parents can be found – often an uphill task as the children can be severely traumatised. Part of the difficulty for many children is the dark at night; the infant trust has given a grant to pay for some night lighting to help reduce the nightmares.
In order to monitor and evaluate the projects each one is set up with a jointly agreed Service Level Agreement [SLA]. All ongoing work is underpinned by these SLA’s and after the first tranche of money is paid to each project, subsequent funds are only payable on receipt of reports and evaluation of the projects.
Work in progress
the infant trust is working with Childline SA to set up some safe havens for very small children in Limpopo; the area is very dangerous at present as it is the regular route for migration from other parts of Africa and the people are streaming down. Liz Williams and I are visiting in August and the viability of this project will be assessed then.
We are working with our friends at Epworth Children’s Home to see how we can best support their foster/host family programme.
the infant trust will be funding more training programmes for staff and volunteers working with abused infants and children
After the second training programme at Topsy the infant trust will commission CATTS to develop free-standing training packs on recognising and dealing with child abuse to give as a ‘free’ gift to local organisations, women’s groups, safe havens, nursery schools and crèches. These packs will be based on the experience gained from training the staff and volunteers at Topsy.
I am visiting in August, with Liz Williams; we will evaluate the work so far and seek new projects and partners. Our travel is paid for through funds specifically donated for this purpose.
The next report on our projects and work will be in November 2006.
the infant trust