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:

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.

Evaluation

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.

Lesley Rudd
Chief Executive
the infant trust



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Map of South Africa

To date, with the help of DHL, we have sent from the UK to South Africa, over 2,500 soft toys for vulnerable children. The outpouring of love and donations of beautiful soft toys has been quite amazing and we thank every child and parent/guardian who have donated. Each and every toy that we sent will be cherished in their new home. We are now stopping accepting toys because those lovely people at http://theteddytrust.wixsite.com/home do this all the time, again with DHL, and send toys to children all over the world. Any kind people who wish to donate will now be referred to them.

Click here for more information

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 – you can read the summary here

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


Just once in a while, amongst all the amazing work that is done to help children in South Africa, we come across a shining star. One such is Wilhelmina who determined to setup a refuge for abandoned children.
Newsletter The report from our most recent visit to South Africa

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