A home where hope springs

2015-07-07 06:00

This week, Place of Hope (POH) residence celebrated 14 years of helping victims of abuse.

Before its establishment in 2001 under the auspices of the Community Bible Fellowship, POH’s foundations were laid when a member of a local church was working with sex workers on the streets of Claremont, Kenilworth and Wynberg in 1998.

Located in Crawford, POH offers women and children the opportunity to not only be re-integrated into society, but also gain the skills needed to live self-sufficient lives whilst providing a place of refuge.

Victims of abuse are screened by various organisations including the police, social workers and community workers before being referred to POH.

These women and children are offered a period of six months’ residence during which time they receive professional counselling, job skills and life skills training.

Jennifer Arendorf, one of POH’s directors, says that 18 women and 14 children are currently under their care, but because of the lack of staff, numbers have had to be kept to a minimum despite the high demand within the community.

“Lack of funding has always been the number one challenge,” she says.

“Whilst government gave some financial support to cover running costs, the organisation has always had to hustle for funding for salaries and food bills.

“One of the biggest challenges came when the owners put the building up for sale in February 2008 – there were 35 women and 42 children in the house at the time.

“The committee, who I think was tired of constantly having to source funding, decided they would close the project. Eleven of the 14 staff left, but three decided to stay on to keep the ship afloat. And have they had a rough ride!”

Arendorf says that maintenance is another challenge as POH is in need of an upgrade.

However, despite the challenges POH face, there have been success stories.

“I think of a young girl who came from one of the informal settlements and (she) was pregnant at the time she came to us. After she gave birth, a printing company offered to pay her tuition at a college where she completed a diploma in early childhood development. Her life and (that of) her little boy is so different now!

“For many other of the women who have come in through our doors, the greatest success is that they, through counselling and life skills programmes, have come to realise that they have worth, potential and they stop believing the lies of their perpetrators,” she states.“Then, with a skill tucked under their belts, they can become economically and emotionally independent, and be re-integrated into society to live in peace and with dignity.”

She says that POH will continue to seek funding. They held a market day over the weekend to raise funds for maintenance and to switch their power back on. They also facilitate a soup kitchen every Thursday with the Community Bible Fellowship.

Anyone willing to contribute by way of a donation or volunteer can call 021 697 2019.

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