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:
- “I did not know that I was physically abusing my daughter when whenever she did something wrong and she was in front of me I would give her a clap or a pinch. I also would threaten not to give her food if she did not wash dishes. I hurt her emotionally on many occasions and this training opened my eyes.”
- “I was once an ignorant person who had no moral values and respect for others. Then I was introduced to COPES and then attended the course at CATTS. I then understood more about life. I do not want my son to grow up with his parents separated and not knowing who his real father is.”
- “This training has taken me on a journey which I never thought I would travel. It has challenged me in every aspect of my being, my spiritual, and my physical being. It has been like therapy for I had my own personal issues that I needed to deal with. While learning I also was on a journey of healing. Since the training I am able to help someone without me becoming lost in the process.”
- “I grew up in an environment where you are not told what death is. I only realise now why I have never healed from my brother’s death. I was told not to cry for I will close his way to heaven.”
- “We hear about HIV and AIDS almost everyday. We are not aware of how easily we hurt people by passing insensitive remarks. This course has taught me not to judge a person no matter what the circumstances are. It has changed my thinking that some people bring it (HIV) upon themselves.”
* 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’ 
‘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.
the infant trust
 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.