Greytown Aids centre treating child molestation victims with special care

2011-08-19 00:00

THE Umvoti Aids Centre in Greytown is undeterred in its mission to help vulnerable children in the rural areas, despite the traumatic abuse allegedly committed by a volunteer at the centre.

The centre was established in 2002 by volunteers who saw the need to care for children from dysfunctional families, some of them affected with HIV or Aids.

It caters for about 120 children daily and has a crèche for 35 children, with a teacher.

Since its inception the centre has had five Peace Corps volunteers who normally spend two years providing assistance.

It was reported recently that American Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Osmun (32) was allegedly caught molesting a young girl inside the crèche last year.

Osmun, who has been arrested in America and is under investigation, allegedly molested five young girls at the centre and silenced them with sweets.

Said centre director Joan Dutton, “We never dreamt that one of the volunteers would expose our children to molestation, so hence we sent Osmun packing the same day we discovered what he had been up to.”

She said they have been asked not to discuss the details of the case as this could prejudice its outcome.

The victims are being treated with special care and are counselled so that their fragile young lives may return to normality as soon as possible, said Dutton.

“We shall not allow this incident to sidetrack us from our mission to bring hope and care to our community. We aim to provide holistic support, care and a safe environment for orphans and vulnerable children, too often abused, abandoned and neglected by relatives, said Dutton.

“We look at both the social, psychological and physical aspects of the children’s lives.”

A drop-in-centre, which offers counselling and testing, was set up to address the needs of 85 children.

School uniforms, meals after school, basic psycho-social support counselling, English language lessons and support for this group are provided.

Dutton said 180 home-based care workers provide primary health care in the community, attend to acutely ill patients, and provide psycho-social support and bereavement counselling to survivors and little children traumatised by their loss.

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