Update December 2006 – March 2007:Over the last 4 months we have had a good period of consolidation, of developing relationships with old and new partners in South Africa and testing the waters for new projects whilst continuing to fund stipends for volunteers and develop training programmes.
In February both Liz Williams and I visited; the reason for the second visit coming hard on the heels of the November visit is twofold. Firstly my first grandchild was expected in March ……. we now have a beautiful granddaughter ……. and it was the only week we could go out to the wilder reaches of Limpopo Province, and North West Province with Joan Van Niekerk, the Head of Childline SA. This we did and visited some astoundingly poor areas where some young children are highly vulnerable: many of the children live in child-headed families and many are simply left for hours on end. More about what we could be doing later in this report.
During our February visit we also visited all our existing projects, discussed possible future work and attended a ceremony to celebrate the successes of the football team.
By December 2006 we had:
- Developed and completed 3 training programmes for 42 people
- Commenced funding stipends for 34 volunteers in safe havens / community outreach programmes
- Paid for two lots of emergency food for a safe haven for 230 children
- Paid for some movement-activated lights at a safe haven to keep children safe from marauding people at night
- Sent 2 large boxes of football kit to a developing football team of highly ‘at risk’ boys
- Awarded a grant to a specialist centre, attached to the hospital in Johannesburg, where small children go for treatment and court preparation. Grant given to assist the travel of children and families to the centre.
From December 2006 we have 8 significant projects underway:
Training – enhancing the knowledge and skills of those working directly and indirectly with families and children
1. The Child Abuse Treatment and Training Service [CATTS] has been developing two new longer child protection training programmes for us, based on last years experiences and at two different levels. The first new Level One course, with 16 trainees from Topsy, Masibambisane, and Ekupholeni, started in early March. It is a day release course lasting 11 weeks. The participants are a mixture of volunteers and paid staff and all work with small children and/or families where abuse has occurred. The Level Two course is under discussion and due to start in May 2007.
2. plus development of the training packs are underway by CATTS – there are some changes in local and national standards that may make this a long and complex process but we will keep the project slowly ticking along
3. COPES-SA community centre – funded a programme of training for 10 volunteers to act as peer counsellors/advisors for families in a poor urban area where abuse is rife
Three new programmes developed and 26 people currently being trained in child protection matters all working in safe haven/day centre, crèche, nursery, crisis centre or with families in the community. Planned to train a further 32 people this year, funds allowing.
Funding monthly stipends for volunteer workers – helping to provide safe places/safe havens for infants and children
4. COPES-SA community centre – funding 10 volunteers working at a centre in Soweto for abused children and working to educate/inform the local community
plus funding 4 volunteers who supervise the above 10 volunteers, but who also work with damaged children
5. Khanyisile day centre – funding 7 volunteers working in a rural township with orphans and vulnerable children
plus funding 3 volunteers who provide meals for vulnerable children at a rural day centre
plus funding 4 volunteers who work in an Early Development Centre for vulnerable children
plus funding 1 volunteer leader working with orphans and vulnerable children
6. Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre - volunteers who work in an urban crisis centre, in a very poor area, where abused children are taken for treatment. The volunteers provide supervised support and care for children and families. The original group of 6 volunteers is now down to 4 as 2 have obtained full employment as a direct result of their volunteering and training. They continue to do such good work with traumatised children and families that we are funding 3 new volunteers bringing the number up to 7
7. A volunteer football coach working in a very distant and deprived area with a group of boys who have little anticipation of anything except crime and illness.
37 volunteers now being either part or totally funded by us.
We only agree to fund volunteers on a 12 or 18 month basis so this does not come to be seen as paid employment.
Provide Ad hoc grants
8. Working with the Open University [OU] towards a PhD: We are all now agreed that the infant trust and the Open University will co-fund a PhD programme into an aspect of the causes / solutions to infant/small child abuse in South Africa. The advertisements will be posted in May and a Professor from the OU will travel, with Lesley, to South Africa in July 2007 to interview prospective candidates; the plan is that the student will start the programme in the UK in October 2007. This has been a while in the planning and is moving on well.
A small grant was given to Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre for infant trust T-shirts for the trainees and for books as a resource for the centre.
- The training packs will continue to develop slowly
- In February we met with Childline and are discussing 3 new projects [funds allowing]
- 1. Helping to start and support a safe haven opening both before and after school times for orphans and vulnerable children in rural Limpopo.
2. Funding the development and delivery of training for professionals [teachers, police, health professionals etc] in recognising and dealing with child abuse
3. Developing information leaflets for childcare, nursery/crèche staff in recognising the signs and symptoms of abuse – to be done in up to 9 local dialects
- We are looking to fund more training and more stipends for volunteers working with vulnerable small children in several provinces.
- The CATTS Level Two training programme is in planning - this does several things; it consolidates and deepens knowledge, skills and understanding; it improves confidence to tackle really difficult issues of abuse; it will help the workers towards being employed as auxiliary social workers.
Service Level Agreements
Every project has a Service Level Agreement, and the ones we have are working well producing evaluation reports at the correct times so we can keep a close eye on developments. There has, inevitably, been the odd glitch in delivering the work in South Africa, but because we have such tight reporting and funding schedules we are able to identify any problem early and see what we can do to help. The few delays in service delivery have been due to either political or personal reasons.
In February we met with infant trust sponsored volunteers and trainees in South Africa. These are some of their comments:
- I’ve learned what type of person I am, I can now help so much more.
- Now I think before I speak and I listen to my families and the children
- I’ve learned to recognise some of the signs of abuse
- Now I ask many more questions and I know what is the best thing to do when someone is raped
- All the neighbours now think I have the answers, I know I don’t but I know where they can go.
Our strategic plan is now in its final draft ready to be approved by the Board; we will post the approved version on the website.
We anticipate the imminent appointment of another trustee – news will be posted on our website, and Lord John Lee has agreed to support our work as our newest Patron. John has had a long and very distinguished career in the public sector, as an MP and Minister, as Chair of an NHS trust for many years and now in the House of Lords. We are very fortunate to be able to count on his support as well as our other two Patrons.
We anticipate starting the process to become a registered Non-Governmental Organisation in South Africa sometime later this year.
The Ghetto Boys: a football team
This is a piece of work that doesn’t really fit with our ethos of helping only small children, but I think it such a good thing to do that we will continue to support them anyway!
As part of a box of kit we sent late in 2006 there was a bag of medals. It emerged that none of the boys have ever received a medal for anything, so the football coach and team organiser decided to have a ceremony to celebrate the boys’ regular attendance at football training over the last year – no mean feat considering their lives. We were very privileged to attend in February. Mzwakhe Mbuli – MP and national poet, gave a very inspirational speech and Vusi Kunene – international film star, also fired the boys with a sense of purpose and importance. It was a truly memorable day. We are now providing additional funds to provide the volunteer coach with a small stipend.
This is an ongoing concern as we have so much more work we could do if we had funds, however I won’t promise what we can’t deliver. We are extraordinarily grateful to those who do support our work through project funds, single donations, standing orders, fundraising activities and offers of help - everything helps.
Spreading the word about our work is a great help, so please do …. and thank you so much for any assistance you can give us.
I visit again in July 2007 to see all our projects, to interview potential PhD candidates and to source new projects.
The next report on our projects and work will be in August 2007.
Ultimately we need much more money to build on all this work – there are so many children abused and at risk, and SO much we can do to help BREAK THE CYCLE.
the infant trust