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Struggling EL NGO may close

THE 100-year-old East London Child Welfare is struggling to keep its doors open, meaning many of its vital services will stop and children may be left homeless.

As a non-government, non-profit organisation, the EL Child Welfare is driven mostly by volunteers, sponsors and donations.

Its closure would also affect its short-term shelter for vulnerable women and children, as well as feeding schemes that it supports at local schools.

“We currently have 12 children in our children’s home as we successfully reintegrated five children back into their families.

“Several troubled youngsters are also partaking in a youth development and mentoring programme which aims to help children stay in school and avoid getting involved in gangsterism and drug use,” said EL Child Welfare director, Soraya Leeuw.

The successes of the organisation are endless, but sadly, should their financial struggles continue, they will no longer be able to offer such services.

“For the past six months, we have been struggling financially and it has affected our staff greatly as we have not been able to pay out salaries effectively,” Leeuw said.

“Many of the staff members have expressed that they can no longer come to work and some have even expressed being hungry. Some rather do some work from home as they do not have money for petrol or public transport,” she said.

Leeuw and her management team are using their personal resources to provide meals for staff members while at work.

“We are eternally grateful to our donors that support our children’s home so diligently.

“Without their support, the prospect of closing down will soon be a reality,” she said.

EL Child Welfare social worker, Sinclair Makoba, said: “It’s not easy. It demotivates us and affects us in a lot of ways. I am passionate about my job, but passion doesn’t pay the bills and at the end of the day who’s going to feed my kids and look after my family?”

There are 24 permanent employees and seven interns working for East London Child Welfare and although staff members want to and need to do their utmost best, they receive their salaries sporadically.

Some staff receive a salary from a subsidy provided by the department of social development, but the rest are paid from donations that Leeuw is left to source.

“Fortunately the interns are supported by a programme run by the health and welfare department, but any operational functioning of our facilities is sourced by donations,” she said.

Child Welfare SA was founded in 1924 and has since improved the health, safety and well-being of children throughout South Africa. East London Child Welfare was started in 1916 by churches and women’s societies as a women’s and girl’s shelter.

It has since developed into a child protection organisation.

“Our programmes are designed to protect and provide nurturing living environments for vulnerable children,” Leeuw said.

“In the past month, we have completed five adoptions, placing abandoned babies with their forever families.”

SAD TIMES: The East London Child Welfare, which relies on donations to provide protection to vulnerable children, is struggling to pay salaries or finance its services

The organisation is also part of the Asibavekele programme, in which volunteers are selected to identify child-headed homes, which they support by ensuring that they are protected and have access to basic needs such as food and water. The programme also ensures that these children have the chance to continue their education.

Besides this, the organisation also helps:

●Approximately 200 unemployed parents within their child protection programme.

●Approximately 80 single parents.

●Approximately 100 parents of children already placed in alternative care in its Usapho programme.

●The 15 children’s home and educare centres in communities, which are struggling to provide meals to the children.

In order for the organisation to be sustained and the good work they do to continue, Leeuw and her team are appealing to the public for donations, sponsorship and assistance of any kind.

“We are appealing to the public for a ‘hand up’ and not a ‘hand out’, as I believe that child protection is everybody’s responsibility,” said Leeuw.

Should anybody be interested in becoming involved or making a donation, please contact Soraya Leeuw on (043)722-1258 or visit the East London Child Welfare offices at 50 Belgravia Crescent, Southernwood. – additional reporting ETHIENNE ARENDS

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