Without caring adults to foster them, many children would be living on the streets as orphans or in homes with biological parents who may not be fit to raise them.
Fostering is an incredible, home-based, flexible and self-employed role that uses many different skills and provides great role modelling for children.
With Father’s Day just behind us, Home from Home foster dad Ernest shares the immense satisfaction that he gets from fostering no less than six children.
Ernest and his wife Gail, live in Zonnebloem, in Cape Town, with their six foster children.
They contemplated becoming foster parents for a long time before eventually taking the plunge. Ernest’s mother was a foster mother and he was greatly influenced by this and would often relieve her if she needed some time off.
"Fostering vulnerable children has proven to be hugely uplifting and a positive experience" Ernest says.
"It is obviously not without a few challenges. It can be very emotional at times and you need lots of patience and understanding" he says, adding "You have to love children."
"It is a passion for me, not a duty" he says.
The couple is supported by Home from Home, an NPO which provides 36 foster homes to 200 vulnerable children in communities within the Western Cape.
"Fortunately, we receive excellent training and good quality advice from our dedicated Home from Home social worker. This really helps us to succeed" he explains.
"As a foster carer, I always try and ensure that I am a positive role model to a child who may not have had one in their life before.
"I advise and guide them through life and demonstrate how being treated with kindness and respect are important qualities for them to follow. We need our children to grow up to be productive and contributing young adults in society and a happy childhood really helps!"
"Being a foster dad is hugely rewarding and the benefits easily outweigh everything else. To see a child develop and grow up with a good self-esteem and sound family values as a result of your care, is just amazing."
Peter Marx, the Executive Director of Home from Home NPO, agrees, saying "Foster parents play such a vital role in South Africa which has a staggering 2,7 million orphans."
He gives a special shoutout to Ernest, adding "It’s special people, like Ernest, who really make the difference to the lives of our vulnerable children."
Have you been spending more time at home with your own children during the coronavirus pandemic? Has it made you realise how rewarding it can be?
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