Update May 2008

Due to the current unstable situation in South Africa, and some of the violence in the townships, we have had to suspend two of our projects in townships near Johannesburg to ensure the safety of the community workers; unfortunately the violence makes the situation worse for children, and many of them become even more at risk. We must, however, look out for the safety of the community workers; many of them visit very poverty stricken and changeable areas where there are many migrant families, this can put the community workers even more risk than usual.

Unfortunately there is also a nasty knock-on effect of the current violence on small children as it puts them even more at risk from random acts of cruelty. It also becomes even more unsafe for them to travel to some of the Early Childhood Development Centres that we support. In a couple of areas the numbers of children attending on a daily basis are considerably down in the worst hit areas, this clearly makes those small children much more vulnerable.

As soon as things improve, and the people on the ground feel it is safe to start again we will resume work at full speed. I am visiting in August and will report back on any impact or things that might have changed with our work.

Meanwhile …. here is some news from one of our projects from a recent feedback/ evaluation report

Feedback from volunteer workers on one of the courses we fund

The participants seemed to have enjoyed and benefited greatly from the [CATTS] course. They learnt about self-awareness, self-concept, goal setting, and various types of abuse. This seems to have helped them to understand the abuse that is unwittingly going on around them as evidenced by the following comments:

* A major part of our work is to train volunteer workers so they can work with, help and support their local communities. To do this they have to appreciate the issues, be open-mined and non-judgmental. This is what the CATTS training helps them to understand and begin to do.

This is another story from a report about what it is like, for many women, to grow up in some of the townships where we are supporting volunteer workers. This report is from another female trainee who has just finished one of our CATTS courses.

I have been affected by sexual abuse both as a child and an adult. Before I went for training, it was very difficult to talk about it and I never sought any help for it. I remember when I grew up being ‘coerced’ to have intercourse with the boy from my neighbourhood, by his older sisters. They would lock us in a room and tell us we were husband and wife. They would then peep through a window and laugh at us. I always wondered why my mom could never see or detect changes in me. In addition, I was raped on numerous occasions by my late uncle who used to go along with me to the shebeen. Recently, I was forced to have sex by one of the college administrators and because I feared that he would penalise me if I refused, I agreed. Following the training, I have finally decided to go for counselling.

… and now, how does all this awareness and training help vulnerable children?

‘[As part of a community project] the group also used this opportunity to find out what the needs of this community are, and to inform them about COPES services. They are planning various workshops such as parenting-skills workshop, domestic violence, and substance abuse, for July’

‘T …. is leading the COPES-SA Saturday Children’s Club. On average about 24 children, attend every week, most regularly. They engage in various activities such as reading, assistance with mathematics, drama, dance, painting and games workshops. The youth from the Methodist Church comes monthly to engage the children with sports and games - during the April School Holiday, 69 young children attended’ [1]

‘Further community development projects are planned at Waterworks : the creation of safe play areas for small children is next’

This is all a tiny reflection of the work we are doing, and indicates how complex and difficult it is to help protect small children when so many people have suffered abuse themselves.

Lesley Rudd
Chief Executive
the infant trust

[1] This all helps to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, and encourages the older children to take responsibility for the younger ones.

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