Report of Lesley's Visit to South Africa, April 2005:
In April 2005 I went to South Africa [Johannesburg] to meet with Claudia and other people who are in the frontline of dealing with the huge numbers of abuse perpetrated on small children and infants. I was made SO welcome and had the most amazing trip visiting and seeing for myself both the horrors that can be forced on such innocents and the extraordinary people who work with these children everyday to try to ensure they have a brighter future.
Some services I visited are worth a special mention:
Prof. Graeme Pitcher, paediatric surgeon, Johannesburg, and his colleagues have the unenviable job of patching up these infants and children when they arrive at casualty battered and broken. It is heartbreaking work, made worse because they have limited resources - including specialist nursing backup [compared to us in the UK] - and often no parental support supporting the children through the many operations
Bethany House Trust [part of Child in Crisis] provides loving and intensive care to children from 0 – 16years who have been abused. Many of the children are subsequently diagnosed as HIV+. The guardians try really hard to place each child in a foster or adoptive family within a year of arrival as the consequences of institutional care are invariably negative on an abused child – however wonderful the institution.&
Ekupholeni Clinic and Crisis Centre runs on a shoe string and yet provides extraordinary service to all abused children, and women [and, rarely, men] , especially in trying to break the cycle of abuse. In particular in the Crisis Centre they see between one and three small children a month [last month, this included children of 2 years, 3 years, 5 years] some of who have been shockingly abused. Whilst they try hard to find a place of safety, often there is none to be found and the children have to go to a relative or even return back home, and often to where the original abuse took place
The Teddy Bear clinic is an outpatient facility of the Johannesburg Hospital and the Department of Paediatrics and offers a variety (medical examinations, play therapy, counselling, court preparation) of support services to sexually abused children, their families and the Child Protection System.
The Teddy Bear Clinic - the bars are to keep potentially violent people out.......
The Topsy Foundation cares for abandoned and orphaned infants & children that are suffering from HIV/AIDS - provides a safe haven for vulnerable children who through the pandemic no longer have access to food, shelter, clothing and schooling . There are also several outreach programmes aiming to get better health provision to the local communities, and faster identification of problems – these are mainly staffed by local health workers.
Happy days in the nursery at Topsy where both home and local children attend.
These are the types of services we are aiming to support and assist along with education and training programmes and research into how the current situation can be improved.