Durban community opens hearts and wallets after fire at children's home

2018-02-22 05:41
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WATCH: Fire destroys babies section of children's home in KZN

2018-02-21 10:41

A babies' section at Edith Benson Children's Home in KwaZulu-Natal caught fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Watch. WATCH

Durban – Durban residents and business people have opened their hearts and wallets following the devastating fire that gutted the Edith Benson children's home in Sherwood, Durban.

The home's babies' section – housing newborns and children aged up to 6 – caught fire around 20:00 on Tuesday evening, Child Welfare Durban and District executive director Anisha Ramlaul on said on Wednesday.

Scores of people answered the home's call for donations of essential items after the babies' section was completely destroyed in the fire.

READ: Nearly 60 babies evacuated after KZN children's home catches fire

The home needed items including nappies, clothing, cereals, blankets and bedding.

News24 visited the drop-off point at a Shell service station where people came in their numbers to drop-off some of the much-needed items.

The Musjid-Us-Saliheen mosque in Sherwood was the busiest drop-off point.

'Heartwarming'

Good Samaritans came in their bakkies and cars while some walked to deliver the baby items.

Volunteers were also on hand to help the home's staff sort out the donations.

Angelo Smith, 34, said she was surprised by the number of people who responded to the home's call for assistance.

"I'm overwhelmed by what is happening here today (Wednesday) especially at the time of the [struggling] South African economy. It's heartwarming to see that people actually care more for the well-being of the vulnerable children instead of caring for their own pockets," she said.

Smith was at the mosque to donate nappies and baby wipes.

Other people donated soap, facecloths, sponges and pillows.

Cause of fire unknown

Ramlaul said the cause of the blaze was still unknown. 

Only one person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, she said.

"Due to regular evacuation training, all staff and children were safely evacuated, with no injuries sustained. The site was quickly secured in order to keep bystanders safe," said Ramlaul.

The burnt section of the home was still cordoned off on Wednesday afternoon.

"Our board of governors and staff would like to thank all first responders and members of the community for their immediate support and supply of provisions," said Ramlaul.

The department of social development in KwaZulu-Natal helped with a plan to relocate the children to other facilities, said Ramlaul.

"The children had developed a bond hence we decided to relocate them to nearby homes where they could still visit each other from time to time," said a worker at the centre who is not allowed to speak to the media.

Rescue Care paramedics spokesperson Garrith Jamieson said 57 babies were housed in the gutted babies' section.

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Read more on:    durban  |  fires

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