#MandelaDay: Every day is Mandela Day at Tshwane Haven for children

Baby O with Tshwane Haven house mother Karen Bruyere. (Alex Mitchley/News24)
Baby O with Tshwane Haven house mother Karen Bruyere. (Alex Mitchley/News24)

Pretoria – For police officers from the Brooklyn station in Pretoria who visited Tshwane Haven, a home for abused, sick and abandoned children and babies, the intention was to deliver gifts in honour of Mandela Day.

- See the Mandela Day Live Update

But in the end, it was the officers who said they felt that the children had gifted them with love and warmth instead.

Five-year-old Felicity with her big, beautiful, piercing eyes and warm smile greets everyone at the door.

"Felicity came in at five days old. She was born without arms and legs, and her mother was unfortunately unable to look after her," said Karen Bruyere, the house mother at Tshwane Haven.

Bruyere set up the Haven 10 years ago.

"She is turning six in August, she is a very independent, very stubborn and normal child who feeds herself [and] gets into her bed by herself. There is nothing she can’t do."

Five-year-old Felicity with her new teddy bear. (Alex Mitchley/News24)

'Quality of life'

Bruyere then introduced the officers to Baby O, who is three years old. He has HIV/Aids because his mother refused to give him HIV medication.

"So because of her neglect, he is dying," said Bruyere.

Bruyere added that they hoped he would live until Christmas.

Bruyere goes on to tell the story of Baby K, who was only five days old when she was sold for drug money and then raped.

The little girl will soon be undergoing a brain operation, she said.

Bruyere said when one of the children at the Haven died, it was always difficult and emotional. However, they tried to be emotionally prepared because they knew the children they had taken in were dying.

"It’s easier to deal with it because you start preparing. It doesn’t make the actual event easier, but it’s easier to prepare yourself for something like that.

"When you take in a baby or child that you know is dying, our motto here is quality of life over quantity of life."

Making a difference

Former president Nelson Mandela once said, "There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children."

Brooklyn station officers heeded this call when they planned to spend 67 minutes with the children in his honour.

One of the premature babies at Tshwane Haven. (Alex Mitchley/News24)

Brooklyn station commander, Brigadier Kushie Nair, identified the need at the home after reading postings on social media about it.

"The Brooklyn police officers are partaking in charity events throughout the year. By giving in simple ways towards a community, police officers found meaning in their own lives and it increased the commitment to the community they serve," said Nair.

Police officers and members of the community donated gifts, milk and toiletries.

To find out more about Tshwane House and how to donate or volunteer, contact Karen Bruyere at bruyerek@mweb.co.za or visit: www.placeofsafety.co.za/tshwane-haven

Since Tshwane Haven is totally independent when it comes to donations and financial sourcing, you can also use these banking details for a financial donation.

Bank: Standard Bank
Account name: Tshwane Place of Safety Association
Account type: Current
Bank account no: 012781282
Branch code: 012345
Swift code: SBZAZAJJ (for use by international donors)
Reference: TH and your name

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