Vulnerable and orphaned children empowered

2018-01-24 06:01
                               PHOTO: SUPPLIEDIris Canham and Susie Weekes at the launch of Indwe Learning Centre in Great Barrington.

PHOTO: SUPPLIEDIris Canham and Susie Weekes at the launch of Indwe Learning Centre in Great Barrington.

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ALMOST 15 years ago, Susie Walker Weekes, a philanthropist from the U.S. doing research on child-headed households visited KwaZulu-Natal and was

devastated by the destruction that HIV/Aids had caused the country.

Reporting back to the U.S., she felt a deep desire to do more than report on the matter and returned to our shores to see where else she could assist with.

Upon her return, she discovered her friend Liz Towell, a local well-known social justice activist’s health had deteriorated.

Weekes visited Towell at Mother of Peace (MoP) Illovo where Towell continued to work hard to transform the lives of children living with HIV/Aids and those affected by the consequences thereof.

Weekes made Towell a promise that someday she would return to South Africa to make a meaningful contribution to a better life for children who were affected and infected by HIV/Aids.

Weekes kept her promise and a new non-profit organisation, Indwe Learning Centres SA, was born, working alongside former general manager at Mother of Peace Illovo, Iris Canham and a group of teachers and societal transformation catalysts.

Indwe recognises their need to be a trajectory for orphaned and vulnerable children, a way to peel off the labels they carry, and to empower them to live a life that will help them restore their dignity.

The model is aimed at supporting alternative child care centres to help them teach, empower and encourage children to engage with their communities.

“Children are just children, hungry to meet their potential, before the labels we place on them, namely privileged, under-privileged, orphaned, with parents, and more.

“We often unintentionally condition their minds by placing labels on them.

“This model recognises the importance of a good system of education that will help heal the tragedies faced in early life.

“It will also integrate children from all backgrounds so that they can interact with the greater community and together come up with leadership solutions that will shape our country for the better,” said Canham, Indwe Learning Centre head.

“It is an exciting time. The Indwe Learning Centre with the first centre operating alongside Mother of Peace, a cluster foster care in Lower Illovo, aims to set the standard for wider community participation in resolving societal problems,” she added.

Leading the way in education, MoP also has an early childhood education centre that is Montessori-inspired to enhance sensorial impact and independent thinking.

“Education is a living system, supporting different ways of learning. We have therefore also incorporated special education needs for pre-school and a bridging class for children, not yet competent in one grade, but are normally promoted on age,” said Canham.

- Supplied.

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