Why we exist

Childline South Africa recently said that 80% of the rape cases they deal with involve victims under the age of 13 years old; a girl born in South Africa today has a 1 in 3 chance of finishing school and a 1 in 2 chance of being raped. 

We are the only UK-based organisation exclusively setting out to break the cycle of violence and abuse against small children in South Africa. 

Our work is having a significant impact on communities as people feel more able to identify and report suspected abuse of small children

What we do:

Our main focus of work is to:

  1. Work with pre-schools:
    • to train the women to recognise and act on suspicions of abuse;
    • to provide a safe place for children;
    • to provide a knowledgeable place for people in the communities.
  2. Empower women and men, working in community services, through training and awareness programmes.
  3. Set-up diversion programmes for vulnerable or potentially violent young men and/or young women, we:
    • encourage and promote a different pattern to their lives through development programmes;
    • work with children whose lives are disrupted by poverty, abuse, malnutrition, illness or abandonment.

Why is such abuse happening?

South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, including child and baby rape, with one child estimated to be raped every 26 seconds according to aid groups and local organisations. In the shanty town of Khayelitsha, a sprawling, crime-ridden township of some 500,000 people near Cape Town, most of the victims are children under the age of 10. Only a fraction of all actual rape cases are reported and many activists say rape has reached epidemic proportions in the country.

Credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly http://www.reuters.com/news
18th February 2010


What on earth is going on?

Background to our work

In South Africa violence, poverty, death, and illness are still, unfortunately, widespread. Here the most vulnerable in society are most at risk. Following considerable research and innumerable visits to South Africa since 2004, and against the background and history of violence and tensions in townships and the rural areas, and the migration of peoples from other African countries, we now have tried and tested programmes with our partners to ensure your donations are spent in a way that really helps children and enables sustainable change in communities.

Why such abuse?

The abuse of small children is a horrendous act and although it happens to a greater or lesser degree in all countries of the world, it is without any doubt happening in huge numbers in South Africa. Whilst there is little statistical data available there is much empirical evidence that informs the situation. Current experts tell us:

In the light of all this we focus on:

Working with pre-schools/crèches to:

Diversion/training programmes for vulnerable or potentially violent young men and/or young women, we:

Our overwhelming aim, always, is to help break the cycle of abuse.

[1]Joan Van Niekerk, Head of Childline SA.

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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