13 February 2013

South Africa: Refuge for Homeless Boys Opening in D-Section Khayelitsha

A new refuge has opened in Khayelitsha D-section that will accommodate young homeless boys in and around Cape Town.

Street-children have always been an issue of major concern in Cape Town. They can end up living on the streets when their families and communities are unable to take care of them. Children who are exposed to life on the streets, without adult guardians to protect them, experience danger and fear on a daily basis. The Homestead Hilary House identifies their needs and has been working with street children in Cape Town for 30 years. Homestead helps children to leave the streets and rejoin society through a variety of projects.

According to Sandra Morreira, the director of Homestead, they experienced some resistance from the community in the early days. "It was difficult for the local community to accept the project because they did not understand the need for child and youth care centres. It took many meetings and a great deal of help from Councillor Kofoko, South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), and other structures to get them to understand how much Khayelitsha needs this type of centre and how they can benefit."

Morreira added, "The land was purchased 10 years ago, and it took a long time to raise enough money to build. Construction first started in May 2010, but was then delayed by the community for 19 months and only continued in November 2011."

"As a result of the lengthy delay, construction costs increased considerably and we have not been able to complete everything, although the centre is useable. We are still appealing to the public for funds for marley sheeting on the floors, lockers for each child, garden plants and a soccer field," said Morreira.

An opening event took place on 6 February. Siviwe Mhlomi, who organised the event, said, "As a community leader it gave me such great experience and more understanding of an orphanage home. I have no regrets about organising the event."

Benjamin Nduna, a community member, said, "I am so proud of the fact that the children's home was brought here, I also grew up without parents and the people of D-section took care of me. I don't drink or smoke and it's all thanks to the discipline and values that the people of D-section instilled in me."

The Homestead can accommodate 25 boys per cottage and there are three cottages. At the moment there are 48 boys in care.

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