Shelter out of funds

2017-04-11 06:00

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The Ihata shelter for abused women and children is facing closure after having a substantial portion of its funding cut.

The shelter’s organisers are calling on residents to dig deep in an effort to aid it ­financially.

The shelter serves abused women and children in the Heideveld area and does not receive any government funding. It is leasing land from the department of public works. The home, which also doubles as a hub for youth rehabilitation and development, has been in operation since February 2006.

Anthony Moses, ward 44 councillor, says the Ihata shelter has been “a tremendous contributor” to the community. “It is going to be a very sad story if the shelter needs to close down, because of the transformational role they have played with women in and outside the community. The challenge for our community is that we cannot have this place closing down,” says Moses.

Nuraan Osman, director of the organisation, says they received the bad news from their Australian donors two weeks ago.

“They have cash flow issues themselves and have been unable to fund us this year. They only let us know two weeks ago, but we don’t want to emphasise this too much that they have withdrawn, because they have helped us tremendously for more than six years,” she says.

She says if their shelter closes, it will be a service that will no longer exist for the community.

“We are so much more than just a shelter. We have youth development programmes. We have a food garden. We have programmes for young children and aftercare for bigger children, so there is a lot at stake.

“Essentially closing down would mean that the Heideveld community will have little else. They already have very few places to turn to. Shelters are always jam-packed and it would mean there is one less service for abused women and children. Typically substance abusers, women, who are placed in rehab programmes, their children are removed and institutionalised,” adds Osman.

Unlike other rehabilitation centres, the shelter keeps the mothers and children on site. Osman says they were the first in the country to do that.

“Our shelter also looks at rebuilding families, and we have already worked with perpetrators. I think that this community knows that everyone is welcome here for whatever they need,” says Osman.

The shelter also gives medical and dental help on site. Osman says they serve more than 45 beneficiary institutions.

“We have other orphanages and institutions who come here for dental and medical care and if we close down, then none of these children can come and seek help.

“We have got a youth programme with 53 young people in it which started in August last year. At least 25% of our members admit that if they did not come to the youth programme, they would be standing on street corners smoking dagga and being truant. Many of them are high school dropouts, and because they have nothing to do in the day, they come here because we have a gym on site and they come here and keep themselves out of trouble. We try and help them with computer skills and literacy and those things, but they too will find themselves back on street corners and in trouble if we close down.”

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