Helping families

2012-09-28 00:00

THE greatest challenge of running a children’s home is when the children have to leave the institution that has provided a comfortable and caring environment for them because of the official 18-year restriction. This is according to Michael Doubell who heads the Joseph Baynes Children’s Home, a project of the Salvation Army church.

The home was established in 1923 and is turning 90 next year. It is funded by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development (DSD).

Situated in Grange, just outside Pietermaritzburg, the children’s home houses 82 children, and is always filled to capacity. The DSD social workers continually find cases of children who are in special need of care, mainly from the rural areas where unemployment and poverty are rife, resulting in poor parenting.

“We do not just take care of children whose parents are dead. People get retrenched from work, and others get old and they cannot provide for their children,” Michael said.

“We have children from different racial groups, but it is good when a child is reunited with his or her family. However, adoption, in cases where the next of kin is not available or cannot take care of the child, is also a positive option in the interests of the child.”

“It is hoped that while the child is here with us, family members will get their act together. In many cases, families do not have the capacity to do so, and the children are allowed to visit their homes for the weekend and come back,” he said.

Of course, Joseph Baynes Children’s home is in a league of its own. It boasts well-maintained sports grounds, a swimming pool and hygienic dormitories with study and TV rooms.

“We have one matric pupil at the moment. We have had one youngster who came here at the age of three and it was heartwarming to see her going to graduate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. We find fulfilment when children pass well at school, and the pass rate here is high because we make sure that children do their homework and they have time to study under supervision,” he said.

As a church project, the children’s home has a chapel, but they are also exposed to the Salvation Army church outlets in College Road as well as in Imbali.

“We have made them experience both English and Zulu churches. Obviously, small children go to Sunday school and the big children go to church. However, the church in College Road is the one that is closest to the children’s home,” he said.

A pastor himself with a 20-year background as a motor mechanic, Michael, who has been with the home since the year 2000, works with his wife, Amenda, who had a financial management career in the corporate world.

“The Salvation Army has been in KwaZulu-Natal for 125 years. It started in London in the 1800s, and in line with the Christian mandate of taking care of the poor, we are privileged to have this home in our province,” said Michael.

The home is staffed by two senior administrators, the Doubells, a social worker, a qualified nurse and nursing assistants, child and youth care workers, caregivers, a receptionist, drivers and maintenance personnel.

Although the home is funded by the government, it is nevertheless engaged in ongoing fundraising initiatives to complement its annual allocation.

Michael said: “We are grateful to members of the public, including foreign visitors, who make financial contributions and provide help in kind — varying from playing with the children to helping with cooking and donating food, as well as clothes.”

Named after a business man called Joseph Baynes, who donated the social-welfare facility to be used by the church to look after children in need of care, the children’s home welcomes donations.

 

• The facility administrators can be reached at 033 386 2326 or 083 616 4197, or visit 89 Trelawney Road, Pentrich, Pietermaritzburg, 3201.

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