A sad reality
I am bothered by a number of socio-economic issues that affect ordinary people in this country and in particular, my hometown – Queenstown. There is nothing more depressing than seeing children that are destitute, not protected and not being able to enjoy their childhood or be normal kids because of circumstances.
When talking to my friends, I have always told them that I did not come from a well-off family but grew up with a lot of love and support. This helped a great deal in us turning into the people that we are today. It pains me to think that there are many children that are not protected and forced to be parents at a very early age. One of the issues that is hard for me to watch when it comes to child protection services is ‘Child Headed Households’. This week’s column is not only motivated by my passion to tackle socio-economic issues but also because this month, from 28 May to 04 June – we commemorate ‘National Child Protection Week’.
This Week is observed annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of SA and Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005). The campaign is led by the Department of Social Development in partnership with key government departments and civil society organisations rendering child protection services. Government calls on all South Africans to support this week by ensuring that the most vulnerable in our communities do not suffer abuse. It is in all our hands to stop the cycle of neglect, abuse, violence and child exploitation.
Beta Care Network defines a child headed household as one where there are no adult carers available and children live on their own. Typically, an older child will care for his/her siblings, cousins or other. Such a situation is increasingly common in areas with high HIV/AIDS mortality, alcohol and physically abusive households where parents end up killing each other or one goes to prison. SA Stats have shown that over 70% of all children in this situation live in three rural provinces: Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. Since 2002, these provinces have consistently been home to the majority of children living in child-only households.
After over 20 years of Democracy – black people in particular should not still be going through such hardships but unfortunately this is a sad reality that we cannot avoid. I am encouraged though by the work that government is doing in partnership with NGOs in the various communities to try and overcome this challenge. My gratitude also goes to people in our communities including neighbours of such vulnerable children who volunteer to be ‘foster parents’ working closely with social workers. There are a number of civil organisations that assist nationally, and, in my hometown. It is important for anyone in this situation to know about such organizations and how to reach them, these are:
1) Save the Children – Leading national and independent organisation in care and protection for children with a branch in Queenstown. https://www.savethechildren.org.za/About-us
2) CHOSA SA – believes that every SA child should grow up in a healthy, safe and nurturing environment. https://www.chosa.org/
3) World Vision SA: an international organisation with a branch in SA that aims to create a future in which no child is without protection, health education and or employment (once they are of age). https://www.worldvision.co.za/about-us/
4) MIET Africa – an African education organisation that strives to improve the lives of children and the youth by providing quality education with the focus on vulnerable and impoverished school communities. https://www.mietafrica.com/
5) Khululeka Community Centre – a non-profit organisation that specializes in resources and training in Early Childhood Development (ECD), situated in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. http://khululeka.org.za/home.aspx
Miranda Lusiba is the Founding Director of Strangé Consulting – a boutique PR Agency specialising in Communications, Freelance Writing, Media Relations, Reputation Management and Media Training.