WITH the mission statement of building families and not breaking them, the Amanzimtoti Child and Family Welfare Society are a designated child protection agency that has been in operation for over 70 years.Having the best interests of children in mind, the basic core function of the society is the care and protection of children, which also includes statutory intervention. Their areas of operation include Amanzimtoti, Athlone Park, KwaMakhutha, Mkhazini, Adams, Enqutshini, Eziko, Msahweni, Isingqungquma, Ezimangweni, Bhekulwandle, Ezimbokodweni and Magabheni.The society steps in to protect children who are orphans or those that face abuse, exploitation, abandonment and neglect. When faced with these predicaments, the society does formal removals and placement of children with a screened suitable foster parent, via court orders. According to the society’s manager, Poovandri Naidoo, who is also a qualified social worker, prior to placing the child with a foster parent, the foster parents are thoroughly screened with various checks being done, in order to determine if the child will be in an environment conducive to them. Scheduled and unscheduled visits are also conducted to get an accurate picture of the home environment, which will determine the true state of the child placed in foster care. After placement has been conducted, the child will be monitored by the society, and if necessary support is offered to the foster parent in the event of behavioural problems occurring. In certain cases, the welfare extends help to the parent by assisting with education, orientation and other programmes.These include awareness programmes, parenting programmes, child awareness, child protection, discipline methods, interpersonal skills, and the addressing of behavioural problems.In addition to assisting parents, the society conducts a lot of empowerment programmes, life skills development and income-generation workshops.Explaining the need for these programmes, Naidoo said: “Poverty is a major problem, and welfare tries to impart skills to people that are unemployed, where they can use these skills to generate in-come and to sustain their families.”These workshops include training in hair, beauty, domestic work, child care, baking and cooking, beadwork, sewing and knitting. The aim is these are to teach people to be independent.According to Naidoo, the efficiency of the society is due to their staff, which consists of nine social workers, a social auxiliary worker, a driver and a financial consultant.“The team spirit in Toti is fantastic, we have the best staff and the most dedicated,” said Naidoo.In addition to the staff, the society has three volunteers, and nine management committee members. In order to keep the society afloat, they receive irregular funding from the National Lottery and are subsidised by the Department of Social Development. In order to receive this funding for the social worker’s posts, the society reconciles with the department and provides proof of their work both monthly and annually.Speaking on the funding Naidoo said, “We are very fortunate that we managed to get our subsidy every single month for years, and that subsidy has never been compromised. “We have been very fortunate, instead of losing posts, we’ve gained posts.” To supplement the funding, the society also runs a thrift shop project to gain some funds. This shop is run by a volunteer, Kogie Chetty. The items sold at the thrift shop are the excess adult clothing and items received. The society stated that they never sell any of the children’s items received, as all of it goes towards the children under their care. The society gives out the things received to people who need first, and then the remainder goes to the shop to be put on sale.Naidoo explained that when residents from the community do spring cleaning at home, they bring their unused items for the society to give out to their beneficiaries.“We as a welfare organisation are so grateful, and we appreciate every single thing we get from the community. Whatever we get we hand it out,” added Naidoo.In order to be 100% accountable for the items received, the society has in place an incoming and outgoing donation book, so donors can trace whatever they donated and to whom it went to. The donation books are thorough and detailed to ensure that the items the community donates go where they are meant to.In addition to community donations, Naidoo stated that the society receives some donations from the community, with their most constant donors being Debonairs Toti, Galleria and Arbour Crossing; Giselle’s Kitchen; John King; Mr and Mrs Pillay; Mr and Mrs Nadar; and Mr Dyal.“Toti is a very generous community, very warm community, and a very giving community. Without the support of Amanzimtoti, we as an organisation will really, really struggle to provide for the communities that are in need,” concluded Naidoo.The Amanzimtoti Child and Family Welfare Society is situated on 1 Lewis Drive, in Amanzimtoti. They can be contacted on 031 903 5171/2.