The 14-year-old boy’s frightened eyes desperately look for comfort.
He first notices the inviting couches and the homely coffee table on his left and then a faint smile permeates through his despair when he spots a grand bookshelf stuffed with age-old knowledge on his right.
For a second the boy wants to lose himself in the books, but he is urged to follow the group of people mulling about him.
Everyone apart from his parents gives him friendly and supportive glances.
He is told that the South African Children’s Home was the first of its kind in the country, having been started by Margaretha Möller in 1808.
There is a growing feeling of hope for the boy.
Besides the warm glow of the staff, every time he stares through the window he is comforted by the ever-present Table Mountain shepherding him.
The group is taken on a tour of the whole facility, which includes a dining room, a kitchen, bedrooms and studies. There is even a swimming pool, a soccer field and a couple of big screen televisions!
He is, however, told that the home values reading and sport considerably more than watching television.
In another room, Sandra Collins, talks to TygerBurger about the home, which is registered to accommodate 44 children between the ages of six and 18 years.
She has been the manager for six years, but has been involved with the home for close to 30 years.
“We assess and evaluate each child individually and then place them in a school in and around Cape Town,” she explains.
The misperception that children live indefinitely in a children’s home must be changed, especially since the Child Care Act was amended recently.
“Children come here in accordance with a court order for a shorter period and in that time we will work intensely with the family of origin. Our focus falls on family reunification,” continues Collins.
If the family set-up isn’t functioning properly and the child isn’t in a safe environment then a social worker will recommend to the courts to temporarily remove the child from the family’s care.
“We have 12 staff members which includes a full-time social worker, a fundraiser, an admin person, seven child care workers and a chief child care worker. We are also very fortunate to have a multi professional team of volunteers consisting of a child psychiatrist, an educational psychologist, occupational therapist, an educationalist and a medical doctor.”
Meanwhile, something remarkable happened at the end of the tour for the 14-year-old boy. A visibly enchanted and contented old man walked into the home with two young children by his side. As it turned out they were his grandchildren, whom he wanted to show where he himself grew up so many years ago.
The 14-year-old boy blossoms.
If anyone would like to help the SA Children’s Home they can contact them on 021 423 1328 or go to http://www.sakinderhuis.org.

***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

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