Hankey safe haven for children in crisis

2018-10-25 06:02
Since the opening of Thárros Child and Youth Care Centre in the heart of Hankey, 19 children have found security, love, support and protection in this five-bedroomed house - all under the guidance of founder Taise Sampson (48).                        Photo:MONIQUE BASSON

Since the opening of Thárros Child and Youth Care Centre in the heart of Hankey, 19 children have found security, love, support and protection in this five-bedroomed house - all under the guidance of founder Taise Sampson (48). Photo:MONIQUE BASSON

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THE double storey white house in the heart of Hankey looks nothing more than just another private residence among all the other houses on the street.

But as you enter the building, you enter a warm and inviting environment, watched over by a gigantic plush teddy bear flopped in the corner.

A playroom overflowed with books, games and stuffed animals - one where every detail was carefully chosen to make a child comfortable and at ease.

Here, abused and neglected children will find support, hope and love - and take the first step on their long journey to healing.

Thárros

Inspired to help the young and vulnerable, Taise Sampson (48) - a business owner and qualified social worker - walked away from a well-paying management job to pursue her passion: helping abused and neglected children.

After months of hard work, Thárros Child and Youth Care Centre - meaning courage in Greek - opened its doors in the quaint white house that was formerly home to the Hankey Children’s Home before its closure in 2014.

Since its opening in August last year, 19 children - from newborn to 12 years and removed from their home by either the police or social workers - have found security, love, support and protection in this five-bedroomed house.

Most of them stay between three to six months.

Safe Haven

Sampson, who first became aware of the critical need of a temporary home for abused children while working as a volunteer at Joshua Project in Jeffreys Bay, says, “Thárros serves as a safe haven for up to 20 children in need of short-term emergency placements, while social workers investigate the best options for their long term care.

“The aim of Thárros is to offer a safe haven to those in crisis; providing hope, security and opportunity to girls and boys who have been victims of abuse and neglect in the Sarah Baartman District.

“We work hard to ensure that each child placed by us is given a safe, caring, healthy and structured environment in which they have every opportunity to become happy, confident and successful individuals - giving them back the life they have dreamed about, the life they should have.

“When they leave, they must leave with more energy and strength in themselves.

“Where possible we want to reunite the children with their families. Removal will be the last option.”

Apart from providing a temporary home, they have a dedicated and qualified carer, Leonie Muller from Erica House in Port Elizabeth, as well as a play-therapy space under the guidance of qualified therapist Marli Potgie-ter, to help children express their feelings and resolve abuse in an age-appropriate way.

How to help

One thing lacking, is a home schooling programme.

“With children coming from all over the Sarah Baartman District, and not knowing how long they will stay with us, it is difficult to place them in a local school,” says Samp-son.

“However, we do offer computer-based maths and science, as well as creative programmes - but nothing close to the curriculum followed at school.

“It would be wonderful if we could implement a home school programme at Thárros with the help of former teachers and volunteers.”

Community support will furthermore allow them to go far beyond the basic care of each child placed in our home.

“Monetary donations are welcome, as well as gently used clothing, toys and educational toys. And most important, time. Even if it is to help in the garden, teach the children how to bake cookies, or to read to them.”

Those wanting to help brighten the lives of the boys and girls living at Thárros, a Non-Government Organisation, can contact Samp-son at 083 500 0910.

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