Child charity runs out of cash

2012-11-06 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG Child Welfare is in dire financial need. If it doesn’t get a cash injection soon, the non-profit organisation (NPO), which is the largest child protection agency in the region, might have to close its doors at the end of next year.

Julie Todd, director of PMB Child Welfare, told The Witness that major international sponsors — including the Canadian International Development Agency and an organisation in the Netherlands — were pulling out and the NPO was battling to find new donors.

This had put PMB Child Welfare in a “serious precarious financial situation”.

“The reality is that without a large cash injection, the society may be forced to close its doors at the end of 2013, as financial reserves are rapidly being depleted.”

The organisation needs about R8,5 million a year to function. About 45% of that comes from the government; the rest is donor funding.

This year, PMB Child Welfare has already done over 10 funding proposals and hasn’t had a positive response from any potential donors.

A huge part of its yearly budget takes care of salaries for the 50 employees on its payroll. The rest covers projects, transport, electricity and other costs.

It cannot afford to take on new staff and when a post becomes vacant, it cannot replace the staff member in it.

“We have had to move people [within the organisation] around. We have to wear different hats and take on other tasks.”

PMB Child Welfare helps children who are abused, abandoned, neglected and HIV positive. In the first three months of this year, Todd said, it dealt with 53 cases of sexual abuse of children under the age of 12 years.

“If we disappear, what will happen to such cases? And the more than 1 000 foster care cases? These are just some of the services we render.”

It also has two foster homes, Ekhaya Lethemba and Sinothando.

As a means of saving money, PMB Child Welfare has resorted to downsizing a few projects.

A project that has already seen some changes is the soup kitchen which it runs in Edendale. It has had to do away with services that were offered at the kitchen, which included aftercare programmes and support for families.

“We would profile the families, look at their needs and try to offer support services, but those have now stopped.”

The kitchen now only offers food once a day and about 150 children benefit from this.

Another big blow for the organisation is that there are emerging organisations offering similar services.

“There’s a greater demand for resources. We have to compete for funds.”

Todd said that if the NPO didn’t get additional funding by the end of the year, it would be runing a deficit of R1,8 million, which it wouldn’t be able to cope with.

“It’s frustrating to see that money is being used on unprioritised areas. The government needs to rethink funding issues,” Todd said.

• Siyathemba.Ben@media24.com

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