A home, rehabilitation and learning Centre for some eighty children from the farms, informal settlements and streets of Eastern Gauteng, South Africa.
A place of refuge for children in need of love, care and warmth. A safe harbour for children in distress, due to abuse and neglect.
A drop-in center for children who are hungry, sick or cold.
A place where youngsters can re-claim their childhood, learn to play and look toward their future with hope.
Somewhere children can dream and know somebody really believes they are gifts to be nurtured and cherished.
The Sithabile Child & Youth Care Center was established in 1994 to rehabilitate
and educate children from the farms surrounding Dawn Park in Eastern Gauteng.
Originally a day care center up until 1997, it has since expanded into a home
where the children receive love, meals, shelter and an education.
Sithabile creates a safe haven for children who are survivors of abuse, exploitation, and neglect. It is a drop-in facility for children who are hungry, sick or cold; a place where youngsters can re-claim their childhood, learn to play and look toward their future with hope; a home where children can dream and know that others believe they are gifts to be nurtured and cherished.
The primary mission of the Center is to provide a bridging facility to rehabilitate families in poverty and children in distress through education, care and counseling.
The main goals of Sithabile are the following:
1. Identify and rescue children at risk.
2. Provide a home for children at risk (sexual, physical and emotional abuse, child labour, neglect and abandonment).
3. Rehabilitate and counsel children from exploitative situations.
4. Ensure that these children are receiving a meaningful education.
5. Promote literacy and skills training for the older children.
6. Integrate the children back into mainstream life.
7. Assist the children to realize their dreams and develop their full potential.
From 1994 to 2000, the Center operated on residentially zoned property in Boksburg, which led to the following problems:
• The Town Council of Boksburg constantly threatened the Center with
• The lack of space for children to play freely resulted in the breaking of windows, and forced children to play in the street, which exposed them to speeding cars.
• The lack of accommodation meant that we were unable to separate the children according to age.
• Due to the lack of space, we were unable to expand skills training programs for older children.
• Although we had always had the support of neighbours, there were complaints about noise.
Thanks to the constant support of 3M, we were able to relocate to bigger and better premises in Benoni in December, 2000. The children now have ample space to play and run without compromising their safety.
In 2006 we were finally able to fulfill our dream of having suitable brick accommodation for our boys who have since the establishment of the Center been accommodated in wooden zozo huts. We would like to thank Selina Rust of Germany and the Greater Allen Cathedral in New York for making this a possibility.
We are also in the process of completing a girls dormitory which is also being sponsored by the Greater Allen Cathedral.
We would also like to have nursery for our babies, so that they can have their own space with an indoor play and dining area.
With the Assistance of the Canada Fund and the Diplomatic Women’s Guild in Switzerland we have been able to build a Sick Bay and Clinic for the children on the property. This has been a great help in our ability to isolate children who are ill.
In 2001 when Sithabile relocated to the current smallholding we worked with the Department of Agriculture to set up a vegetable garden. The department provided our staff with skills on managing and ensuring that our garden would be sustainable. They further ensured that our borehole was operational to ensure that we had a natural water source to irrigate the plants.
We also have started poultry farming, which helps to provide the children with eggs for their meals. We have also acquired geese and goats. At Sithabile’s inception we recognized that one of the primary functions of our facility would be to provide a good balanced diet to the children in our care to ensure to counter the effects of malnutrition a large percentage of our children suffered from. The animals and garden have helped to provide the children with education on how to grow their own food and also an opportunity to interact with animals through helping with their care. Further it was felt important to provide them not only with a skill but also with knowledge on how a small vegetable garden could provide food for a family for when they became adults.
In 2004 we had the grade 10 learners from Kingsmead College, pilot an eco-circles project in our vegetable garden. This methodology was to teach young people an innovative method of gardening that used minimal water, so as to be able to garden even in times when there little water available.
In 2005, we had one of our young girls and a housemother attended a course at Pretoria University on sustainable agricultural faming and animal husbandry. The course helped them bring new ideas to continue to have a flourishing garden.
We continue to see the benefits for our children in both working with the land and having the land provide food for them. While we are currently able to plant and harvest prior and during the summer months, we hope to be able to build a greenhouse to have vegetables throughout the year.
Through a donation of a container by the Benoni Rotarians, we have been able to set up a library for our children. The American International School of Johannesburg donated the majority of the books for the library and even came to spend a day setting the library up. A few of our girls were provided with skills on how to run the library, which has been a great help to ensuring that we keep track of all the books.
Most of the older girls have been part of the beaded card making project through which they were ultimately able to purchase a container to house their project and materials. While they were assisted and guided by Rebecca; a Canadian; who volunteered her time in 2005, the girls are no managing the project on their own.
While we do not have a computer lab at present, we do have a few computers housed in the library, but we would like to see a fully operational computer lab for our children in the next couple of years. We feel this has become a necessity not only for research for their school projects, but also a basic life skill for our older children to be able to compete in the job market once they leave the Center.
We would also like to renovate the existing hall at the back of the property into an indoor recreational facility with some gym equipment for the older children as a large number of them are either involved in various sporting activities at school or they are dancers at the East Rand School of the Arts. We feel that having such a facility would help to maintain their fitness levels and assist them to excel in their chosen extra-curricula activity.
In an effort to prepare our younger children for education we converted the garage into a pre-school class, where the toddlers spend their mornings learning their numbers, nursery rhymes and abc’s. While in time we would like to see a better equipped facility for our youngest children
Our children attend three different primary schools, three high schools and a special school as we recognize that the needs of each child vary and to ensure that they are able to thrive as learners these needs have to be taken into account. Even though we have had discussions with the Department of Education, and the school fees have been waived for our children, we still experience problems with the schools demanding fees and we would like to thank Clientele for their commitment over the last few years to ensuring that our children’s fees are paid.
We recognize that education does not end in high school, so where possible we have our older children in Technical Colleges to ensure that they are skilled to be able to either start their own businesses or compete on the job market as they prepare for independent living.
The Center hopes to initiate the following programs to provide the older children with skills while also providing services which can help generate an income for the Center:
• Carpentry and upholstery
• Candle Making
• Panel Beating and Repair
• Self Defense courses for women
• Business management courses
• Early Childhood Development training courses
We feel it is not only important for the children to get formal education, but we also feel the need for the children to be taught alternative skills as we are not only hoping to mould academics, but also hope to develop the various skills which the children have and ensure that when the young people in our care reach their majority they are able to continue to grow and live independantly.
Sithabile Child and Youth Care Center is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. We depend solely upon donations and sponsorships from instituions such as yours. Please find enclosed a copy of our running budget.
Any help that you could offer us would be greatly appreciated! Should you require any more information, or if you would like to see proposed budgets for our upcoming projects, please contact us by email, telephone, or post.
We look forward to continue forging a strong partnership in enriching our children's lives.
Any Donations can be made to: Sithabile
Child & Youth Care Center
Corner Jark & Victoria Streets
Account No: 1547006277
SWIFT NO: NEDSAZAJJ