Home cares for mentally challenged adults

2016-02-02 06:00

NESTLED against the slopes of a steep hill in the heart of the Midlands lies Sunfield Home, one of the largest private homes for mentally challenged adults in South Africa.

Sunfield traces its roots back to the Magaliesburg Children’s Home for the Mentally Handicapped which was established near Hartbeespoort Dam in August 1953 by the parents of 11 mentally challenged children.
Conditions were harsh on the highveld and during early 1955, the parents collectively purchased the 22-hectare Greendale farm, west of the village of Howick. They moved the 11 children and the managers, Mr and Mrs Schafer, to the gentler climate of Howick – and the flagship Sunfield Home was born.

The following year the parents formed the Sunfield Home Association, a company not for gain (Section 21), with seven of the founder members as directors.

Over the years, thanks to the vision, dedication and tireless work of the directors, the association established homes in Canelands near Verulam (1970), in Johannesburg (1986), in the Cape at Wellington (1989) and at Balfour (1991), creating a network of dedicated places where mentally challenged adults can receive appropriate care.
In 1975, a new law was passed decreeing that mentally challenged children of school-going age had to be separated from those over 18. Compulsory education was introduced and the Langholme Home at Verulam was converted to a school with a hostel, falling under the auspices of, and largely subsidised by, the Department of Education.

In the early nineties, the Sunfield Association created a workplace for mentally challenged people in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. A building on the outskirts was rented and mentally challenged adults were recruited to do simple tasks.
Unfortunately, the cost of food, transport and employing an overseer became too much and the centre was closed.

In 1996, the Sunfield Home Association was dissolved and each of the Sunfield Homes countrywide became a Section 21-company controlled by a board of directors with complete autonomy. The homes still maintain contact with each other and the management staff meet once a year to exchange knowledge and ideas.

Speaking to the Fever Brigid Harvey of Sunfield Home, Howick, said that the home is the happy result of years of detailed planning, fund-raising, tight budget management and compromise.

“Over the decades since Sunfield Home Howick was established, parents and friends across South Africa have planned, worked together and given of their time and talents to raise money which has produced what the home is today.
“The people behind Sunfield Home represent determination, commitment, vision and an abiding love for those who cannot look after themselves. They are saluted for their efforts,” she said.

“Sunfield Home is a non-profit company which relies totally on the existing state subsidy, the exceptional generosity of families and friends, fund-raising events, bequests, donations from businesses, donations from schools, generous corporate donations and donations from private charitable trusts to keep the home functional and to cover the considerable costs of maintaining and improving living standards for our residents.
“As costs rise steadily year on year, generating funds for Sunfield is critical and the home is grateful for donations and contributions and welcomes all assistance in this regard.”

There is a growing number of indigent residents, whose material needs are met in full or partially by the home. “We would appreciate any donation or sponsorship to ease the costs incurred by Sunfield Home regarding these loved residents.

“Our fund-raising arm is the Friends of Sunfield, Durban, who work throughout the year holding events to raise essential funds and create an awareness of, and support for, our home.”
New members are welcome and anyone wishing to contribute their time and experience to this worthwhile cause is encouraged to contact Linda Vandeverre in Durban 031 702 2985 or Yvonne McNair on 083 616 4295 or 031 764 3230, fosdbn@saol.com

Should you wish to make a donation or bequest to Sunfield Home, Howick, contact Karen Lister (general manager) on 033 330 2094.

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