Book about the Thandanani Foundation launched

2012-08-21 00:00

A BOOK that captures a unique slice of Pietermaritzburg’s history was launched on Friday at a celebratory gathering at the Fernhill Hotel in Howick. Many of the guests present were part of that history.

Children at the Forefront: A history of Thandanani Children’s Foundation, by Matthew Le Cordeur and Thandi Davies, tells the story of the good that came out of one of the darkest periods in the city’s history. During the violence in the Midlands in the 1980’s, an organisation was born out of the spirit of volunteerism when a few thoughtful and caring men and women decided to do something about the plight of children abandoned at Edendale Hospital.

Twenty years later, Thandanani — the organisation that facilitates community-based care of orphans and vulnerable children — is still going strong and looking at new and innovative ways to help children. It is building on the spirit of volunteerism.

The organisation, which works in the Msunduzi and Richmond area, has a staff of 21 and a team of 109 volunteers supporting over 2 400 children. It serves eight early learning centres and is currently facilitating the establishment of community-based food gardens, food kitchens and savings groups.

It’s latest initiative, introduced at the book launch, is to get members of the public to become “4kids” supporters.

Guest Speaker at the book launch Phillipe Denis, himself an author of over 20 books and founding chairperson of Thandanani, told the gathering that in his view there was nothing worse than abandonment. He said that at least an orphan may have good memories of their parents and build on that, but an abandoned child has nothing — no memories and no concept of a father or a mother or a sense of family.

Denis emphasised that a child-centred approach should be at the heart of any country’s development programme. “I always think that crime has something to do with risk environments and lack of self-esteem. With these ingredients many of us could end up doing the wrong thing.

“The more we work on children, the better our society will be in the future.”

Special guest on the evening was first lady Dr May Mkhize, who was a doctor at Edendale Hospital and part of the Thandanani family of volunteers. She served on the organisation’s Board in the 1990’s.

Other special guests included members of Thandanani’s first volunteer committee: Penny Haswell, Barbara Khoza and Jilleth Moyo. Some of the volunteers ended up adopting the abandoned children.

For details on Thandanani and the “4kids” project call 033 345 1857.

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