Making life better ‘one child at a time’

2010-06-16 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG family have put all their resources together to make the lives of 13 mentally and physically disabled children better.

Through a non-profit organisation, the Knight family have renovated a Chase Valley children’s home and turned it into a vibrant and liveable environment.

The White Cross Disabled Hope Centre was previously a “filthy” place where the children lived alongside squatters in squalid old buildings with no electricity and only tank water, said Jacqui Knight.

Knight said the principal business of the centre is to “provide environmental and community upliftment services”.

They have already started doing this by providing a place of safety for the children and achieving some of their objectives.

The objectives of the centre are to “strive towards a measure of self-sufficiency by the introduction of food- bearing projects; enhance the spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing of the children through love, occupational therapy and additional educational stimulus; enable the children to live their lives to their fullest potential and encourage and enable family and extended family participation in the lives of the children wherever possible”, said Knight.

The Knight family sold their Pietermaritzburg home in 2009 and “invested” their lives in the children at the centre.

They repaired and renewed plumbing, water circulation, geysers and electrical cables, installed a borehole, sanitised the buildings, purchased and made furniture, obtained donated clothes, linen and curtains and had each child seen by local government clinics for assessment so they could receive proper medication.

The home was registered in April 2010 with the departments of Health and Social Development. With the help of many sponsors, the quality of life for the children has improved.

Of the 13 children living at the centre, four parents/legal guardians contribute towards their children’s wellbeing by paying between R500 and R800 to the centre each month.

Other income is derived from the Knights, who both have full-time jobs. Knight said, “We put every cent into this place, but are helped through the generosity of the public.

“Only after the formalisation of the non-profit organisation will we be in a position to apply for a government subsidy and do fundraising.”

Five full-time staff members are employed at the centre, who see to the children’s needs and keep the place in good condition.

Through donations and the formalisation of the organisation, Knight said, “we are hoping to complete two dormitories of 15 beds each to enable us to increase our intake … to 30 children”.

“We have already had 34 inquiries that we have had to turn away.”

Due to a lack of funds, the centre is attempting to become more self-sufficient through chicken farming. Some of the meat and eggs are sold.

Knight said through all their efforts they are “really trying to change po­verty one child at a time”.

“We are very humbled every day by the joy on the children’s faces and how they remind us what the true value of life is.”

The centre is always looking for contributions. Interested parties can contact Jacqui Knight at 072 123 1852.

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