Lourenza Foghill, Country Director at Hope and Homes for Children, South Africa, explains how the team in South Africa is working to keep families together.
When vulnerable children can no longer live with their parents, for whatever reason, we need somewhere else they can stay instead of an orphanage, until we find a solution. That’s why our team here in South Africa has been busy establishing ‘Temporary Safety Parents’. Trained by us and approved by the government, Temporary Safety Parents provide short-term care for children until we find a safe long-term plan. Children like Thembile*.
Thembile’s mum, Nomazizi*, is a 30-year-old single mother. With no formal job, no birth certificate for her baby and so no government support, putting food on the table was a daily struggle. “Me and my child need to eat,” Nomazizi told me,
“I need to make that happen.”
With limited options, Nomazizi started working as a sex worker. One afternoon she left baby Thembile with her neighbour while she worked. But at the end of the day, she didn’t return. Her neighbour, Ma’Dlamini —also struggling to make ends meet—was worried. So she contacted a community organisation for help. They called me. And I alerted the government social worker.
Determined to keep baby Thembile out of an orphanage, we worked together to prevent this. We quickly provided Ma’Dlamini with an emergency food parcel to last three weeks, including oil, salt, maize, and beans, and trained her to become a ‘Temporary Safety Parent’.
Five days later, while we were working with social services to trace Nomazizi, she reappeared. She explained she’d been desperate to earn enough money to feed them for a week, and thought her neighbour would be able to take care of her baby for that time.
Ma’Dlamini cared for Thembile for one month while we supported Nomazizi with everything she needed to provide a safe home for Thembile, from parenting skills to counselling sessions. Now two other community organisations are also helping Nomazizi with food and getting Thembile a birth certificate so Nomazizi can apply for social support. And Nomazizi’s attended an eight-week parenting skills course where she’s learned how to love and nurture her baby and feel more empowered as a mum.
Thembile could easily have ended up spending her childhood in an orphanage, cut off from her family and community. But thanks to our temporary safety parent scheme, she’s back with her mum who’s now better equipped to take care of them both.
“I never realised the impact of leaving my child with my neighbour, I’m thankful for the support and skills I received. Me and my child are still together and doing better.”Nomazizi
Thanks to your support, we’re proud to have 55 Temporary Safety Parents in Gauteng Province, all on standby to care for other at-risk children and prevent them entering orphanages.
Lourenza Foghill is National Director of One Child One Family – Hope and Homes for Children's programme in South Africa.