Assistance with fostering and adoption

2016-11-16 06:02
Assisting parents with fostering and adopting children (from left) Steve Pike, CEO of Fathers House International (CAIRD) and National Director, Debbie West and husband, Dominic. Photo: tania sandberg

Assisting parents with fostering and adopting children (from left) Steve Pike, CEO of Fathers House International (CAIRD) and National Director, Debbie West and husband, Dominic. Photo: tania sandberg

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CHILDREN’S Aid International Relief and Development (Caird), recently changed to a trading name - “Fathers House International” - a Canadian founded initiative whose mission is to place orphaned and abandoned children in two-parent, Christian homes.

The founder of Caird, Peter Mzarik, went to Romania and was saddened by the situation of orphans in that country. He subsequently established Caird 20 years ago.

“We find a family that is willing to foster a child and then place a child with them. We do it prayerfully and then add them to our Caird family.

“The latest figures show that there are 4,3 million orphaned and abandoned children in South Africa, with the largest majority in KwaZulu-Natal. This is due to our province having the highest incidence for HIV and the most single parents - it is an overwhelming situation,” said Fathers House Africa (Caird SA), national director, Debbie West said.

Caird has been in SA since 2005 and the founder, Peter Mzarik, had ties with South Africa.

“It is difficult to see the huge need, but Caird is meeting the need, one child at a time. If we clothe and feed one child and he or she becomes a leader of the country, it is worthwhile. If I place one child in a role model position, others will duplicate the role model and turn the trend around slowly.

“In Romania, the situation was much different, but we worked on the same principal, fostering children in two- parent homes and we are happy with the results,” Caird CEO, Steve Pike said when he visited the Amanzimtoti Caird branch last week.

West said while they have great respect for single parents, who have the difficult task of raising children on their own, they believe they are missing an entire element of parenting.

“Mothers and fathers have different personalities and gifting in raising children,” said Debbie’s husband, Dominic.

“Because we need both parents, our task is a lot harder. Children are referred to our organisation through social workers, word of mouth and Facebook. Most orphanages do not want children to stay for longer than three years, but there are some that won’t release children because they receive grants,” Debbie said.

Debbie and Dominic are also foster parents.

“It has not been easy to take in a child. We took three in and now they are all teenagers. We also have two children of our own. But the blessing is ours. One has finished matric and working, one in matric and he is well-adjusted, the youngest is in Grade 10,” she said.

“Caird works with the whole family - parents and children. Debbie and Dominic can provide assistance to other foster parents while Caird supports them. I am currently in South Africa to support Debbie and Dominic and touch base with the other foster families,” said Pike.

“They had no director here and looked for someone who could be hands on and found Debbie. From my point, she has all the right qualities for a national director. She is tough and at the same time tender and soft with the families when she needs to be,” he said.

Debbie said one of the biggest challenges is that a biological family can come and take the foster child even days before the two-year period is up.

“You can only do what you can to give then the best while they are with you,” she said.

Caird’s local work

“In Amanzimtoti we are fighting huge elements. One child who was fostered, unfortunately, was lured by pimps. We ran after her and tried to get her back, but he moved her, as soon as he discovered we were looking for her. She was 17 at the time. We eventually made contact with her and discovered she was pregnant, and a biological family member took her in and cared for her and the baby.

Even though we could not help her, whatever we had sewn into her life at the time she was with us, has helped her. She was caring well for her baby,” Debbie said.

Caird is currently in the final stages of setting up their board in South Africa and getting their non-profit organisation registration number. Previously the board was Canadian based and had local representatives - it is now more local.

“Once the local registration is through, we will be able to do more. We need a vehicle to go into rural areas to foster families. I have made contact with families all over South Africa wanting to take in children, but at this time we are unable to logistically reach them.

“We have to make sure the people in the area are good to take in families and that the families are then being cared for,” she said.

West asks parents to consider taking in foster children, and not be afraid.

“Caird has a great support system in place. In Toti we are blessed with people in our organisation who have taken in children and raised them as their own and have taken a step in faith. But we need plenty more parents to say, ‘I am willing’,” Debbie said.

“There are lovely Canadian people sewing and donating to Caird to donate to foster children to ensure the child is not a statistic in an orphan situation.

“It is amazing that people so far away made the decision to help us. They do not know us, yet they donate. It is such an amazing thing, only God can use people far away to care about our problems. I would like to see South Africa deal with our problems. We are responsible for our own problems,” she added.

For further information, contact
Debbie on 073 792 7429 or email

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