Some project updates:

1. Childline - Limpopo  
Childline granduands The crèche we have been funding and supporting since March 2008 is doing really well, the demand gets greater, the local community gets more involved and, more to the point, over 100 small children are now safe and developing well with many more coming in during 2009.  Considering the malnourished and sad state most of them arrive at the crèche the change over the months is amazing as their bodies and minds get fed, exercised developed and protected. They had the first group of small children move on to the local Primary School in January 2009 and there was a lovely ceremony to celebrate their ‘graduation’.
Creche children in Limpopo We plan to continue supporting this crèche for another 2 years until enough local money has been raised to make this self-sufficient; the protection of these vulnerable children is paramount…. but you should see the pride and joy in their faces when they sing new songs or play games or sit and paint.

2. Childline - North West Province

This is where we are now rolling-out our jointly developed training programme for crèche leaders and workers. By the end of 2008 we have trained 114 people in 57 crèches and there are calls to Childline also most daily from other parts of the province for the training to happen for their crèche leaders.  Training materials
People often ask me if training is simply a ‘day out’ – well for most of these ladies it is the first time anyone has ever offered them training, they are so SO motivated by it and we get anecdotal stories about how things are changing to keep children safe …. for example where the training has happened all the crèches now have fences around them, they all hold registers and they all make sure they know who is delivering and collecting the children – these may seem small things but they have dramatically reduced the numbers of small children being abducted and abused.

The other very telling factor is that the calls reporting suspected abuse to Childline, after the training, are very significantly raised. Each report is acted on, many children have been helped and/or removed and the numbers of reported incidents keep rising – this may be horrific but it is a major success as this all previously went unreported

Creche children in playground

3. The Story of Martha1

Martha I met Martha on one of the training courses for local volunteers that we fund and she told me her story.

Aged two years old she was taken to live with a relative. The relative put her to work, she had no clothes of her own as she grew and was often clothed in bits of plastic, she had to sleep on the floor or outside, and her place was to serve the family.  For 7 years she was bullied, beaten, malnourished, and cold and deprived of emotional comfort. She did however go to early school. At 9 years old she finally ran away and went to live under the railway arches and in ditches [common places for homeless children to go] from then on she survived by exchanging her body for food and/or money – how else could she survive?

At 14 years old she was discovered by a philanthropic lady who toured the homeless sites and was taken in to this lady’s home with other similar children.  From this secure base she went to school and eventually matriculated.  Martha, understandably, regards this lady as her saviour and mother and remains in contact. Now, aged 26 years, she has set-up an orphanage in a tumbledown disused building in the middle of nowhere on a wing and a prayer and takes in other children from railways and ditches. She scrapes together whatever she can for herself and these children

I have seen her physical scars, and heard her mental scars, but her determination to help other such children is astonishing. She cares for 9 children from 18 months to 16 years and gets funds and food and clothing from wherever she can.  She attended our training for crèche volunteers because, as she says, she had no mothering so doesn’t know how to mother her children – she has to learn and then teach them. 

She is far too distant to attract any multinational funds… but what an inspiration.

[1 Not her real name]

If anyone would like further information about any of our projects please contact me Two Imi volunteers

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:

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
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