Children’s home celebrates centenary

2019-10-16 06:02
PHOTOS: andile sithole Manager of the centre Pieter Swanepoel (back, third from left) with the staff as they celebrate 100 years since the centre was established.

PHOTOS: andile sithole Manager of the centre Pieter Swanepoel (back, third from left) with the staff as they celebrate 100 years since the centre was established.

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WHAT started off as the tiny orphanage of a church blossomed into a magnificent home for abandoned children from various areas within the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

This year, the Greytown Child and Youth Care Centre celebrates 100 years since it was established.

During the early 1900s, Greytown had a flourishing farming community and the congregation of the local Dutch Reformed Church had many members. When significant numbers of children were orphaned as a result of a big flu epidemic, the church decided to establish a children’s home to accommodate the orphans of deceased members of the church.

The home started off with four children in 1919 and, over the years, the number of children grew, among other reasons due to the worldwide economic crisis of the 1930s, severe droughts resulting in the collapse of many farming communities, and the devastating impact of the second World War.

The home was forced to expand accordingly and, at present, the home is registered to accommodate 250 children between the ages of 0 and 18 years old.

Manager at the centre Pieter Swanepoel said the centre is a home to 152 children who have come from different areas across KZN.

He said the magnificent work done at the centre was due to donations made towards the centre by National Lottery, local businesses and the Department of Social Development.

“The department is our source of income as it ensures that children are taken care of and live quality lives. They are our main sponsors,” Swanepoel said. He added: “Children need extra medical care and different support. People working here [at the centre] have a common vision, that is to make the lives of the children better and safe.”

SHORT HISTORY OF THE CHILDREN’S HOME

What started out as a small orphanage for children has, over the years, grown into a much-expanded facility.

The expansion of the facilities can now be viewed as a visionary decision which allowed the centre to fulfil an indispensable role as a safe refuge for the shadow of the children of our modern society.

In 1918 the great flu epidemic hit KwaZulu-Natal, resulting in a number of orphans and children in need of care.

In 1919 the 48th Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church of Natal gathered in April in Ladysmith and a report was tabled by the Synodic Committee. This report stated a need to establish a home for neglected children and orphans in the province.

The Synod then decided that an orphanage for the church in Natal should be established in Greytown, since there was a generous congregation in a prosperous country community in that town. The committee also appointed the first management committee with the minister of Greytown congregation as the chairperson. Furthermore, an elder from Greytown, the minister from Pietermaritzburg, a deacon from Durban, and the minister from Dundee were appointed as the other members of the committee. Reverend G.M. Pellisier and Reverend M.W Odendaal were the driving force behind this project.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

• In 1951, the Synod decided that the name of the home would change from Weeshuise to Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kinderhuis (Dutch Reformed Children’s Home).

• The keystone of the new central building was laid by Reverend Odendaal. The building tender was awarded to Mr H. Torlage and Reverend Van der Heever raised funds for a laundry building.

• After many months of hard work, a recording of choir music is made with the title Nuwe More (New Morning).

• In 1967 the unique designs of four more units by the architects Olaf Pretorius and Peckham were approved. A loan of R78 000 from the Community Chest was approved, and the tender received and instruction to start with the work. The first house was completed by Umvoti Builders and, by the end of 1968, all four houses were completed.

• In 2002, the first Zulu speaking housemother, ME Buthelezi, was appointed.

This week the centre will host a three-day function starting from October 18.

The centre will have a lot of activities, including a bring and braai, entertainment and food stalls.

On Saturday, there will be an official unveiling of the 100 year celebration. The activities of the day will include tug-of-war, face painting, a potjiekos competition, and stalls that will be open to the public to sell handcrafts.

The celebration will culminate with a visit at the Dutch Reformed Church for a morning church service.

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