Aside from our residential facility, Isiphephelo place of safety, we also have an outreach programme which we call Isiphephelo Outreach. We work with our local community in their own homes and on the streets coming across many wide ranging social issues.
Here is an update on a few cases that our auxiliary social workers have been dealing with recently:
Absenteeism from School
Three girls staying in our local township, Khethani, were reported to us as they were not attending school (2 siblings and their friend). They were counselled about the importance of school and the advantages of attending school and they eventually agreed to return.
It was identified that the friend had run from her foster mother in Bergville -Oliviershoek and had been staying with the 2 girls in Khetani. In a situation like this where a child has run away it is important that proper procedures are followed so we reported the case to the local social worker who was able to conduct her own investigation. After meeting with the girl and the foster mum the social worker was able to return the child home and she is now back in Oliviershoek and attending a new school.
One of the siblings decided to leave Khetani and moved to Loskop to attend school there, she since returned to Khetani but is not attending school, again the case was referred to the local social worker.
The other sibling is back and school but came to the office to complain about her sister hiding her school uniform and books meaning she had missed 5 days of school, she told us she wanted to leave school now and go to live with her Aunt. We counselled her again and she agreed to return to school. The school principal asked for a meeting which went well and the child is now back in school and we have regular follow up sessions with her to monitor her progress.
Unfortunately absence from school and moving from one home to another is not uncommon. Children grow up with so little stability in their lives. We intervene where we can and offer counselling, support and advice.
More challenges with schooling
A family from Lesotho came to our office to explain their children were attending school some distance away and they could no longer afford the taxi money so their children were being forced to drop out of school.
We were able to talk to the principals of both their existing school and the local school in Khetani and it was agreed that the children should be transferred to the school closer to home. The parents were very happy and thankful.
Often community members don’t feel able to tackle situations like this alone. A huge part of our work is to advocate for the best interests of our clients. We are thankful that community members feel they are able to share their problems with us and we are then able to work together to find a solution.
A mother came to us for advice regarding her son, she had taken new children into her home and her own son had started “behaving strangely”, he was jealous, angry and didn’t want to help out with chores.
We attended the home and met with the family to conduct counselling and suggested a few practical things to help them resolve conflict.
The mother returned to our office to say her son is so amazing, he has drawn a roster and each child takes a share of duties, we were delighted to hear about his progress and the mother was also happy that we could talk with her children.
Staff and volunteers at Isiphephelo come from far and wide, we have local Zulu volunteers as well as volunteers from England, Australia, Germany, Belgium, USA etc, some permanent and some just visiting We are privileged to be able to attend training courses dealing with child behaviour and often have volunteers running sessions for us in these areas. It is great when we are able to put some of the theory into practice and to see the amazing changes that can be made in a household.
Visits to ex Place of Safety Children
We visited some children who had previously lived with us at the place of safety, we wanted to check how they were doing and we gave them some clothes, they were very happy to see that they are still being recognised and loved by us.
One child, a girl of 16 years is still receiving counselling, she was the victim of a recent sexual assault by a family member. A medical report was done and a police case opened. The family on perpetrator’s side wanted to have negotiations with the victim’s family in order that a settlement could be reached and the case would be withdrawn but the family of the victim refused.
Negotiations and subsequent compensation are a very common way of settling abuse cases in this area so it was very encouraging to us that the victim’s family showed support to the girl and wanted to pursue the proper course of law.
Long term client
It is always good to hear success stories from our long term clients, we have known and assisted one particular lady for around 7 years now, after many years of only getting casual jobs she has secured a full time job as a domestic worker with a family in Emmaus. For years she has been struggling financially and searching for jobs and she has finally found something. She moved her two youngest children leaving an older sister with neighbours in Khethani, we will monitor this child to ensure she has sufficient food, is taking her medication correctly and is generally well and cared for. The client was very happy that every month she will receive the sum of R800-00 and she will be able to save some from this money and make her children happy.
It is not uncommon for guardians to leave their children to go off to find work. Because this lady is from Lesotho she does not have a South African ID book and getting work is therefore so much more difficult, as long as we have known her she has worked in the fields doing whatever casual work she could find. She has survived various health challenges and poverty through sheer determination, the goodwill of neighbours and assistance with food parcels. We are delighted she has now found work.
We have continued to conduct home visits in and around Khetani meeting with clients who needed help with their health, family unification and also for counselling sessions to the victims of rape. We were happy to have a LifeLine facilitator visiting for the second time and offering monitoring and coaching for us specific to the cases we are dealing with. She helps with any challenges we have and will visit us again soon.
We are blessed to be able to work with and partner with other organisations such as LifeLine to work together to serve the community. LifeLine focus on counselling around sexual abuse and we have learnt a lot from them.
Last week we were called in a nearby school to offer counselling to three girls children who are the victims of rape and sexual abuse. The children talked freely during our counselling sessions and the counselling will be conducted weekly with these children for as long as they want or need it.
Whilst we are grateful that schools contact us to deal with situations such as this it is always heartbreaking to discover more cases of abuse. We are thankful for our team of staff and volunteers who give their time and love so freely to reach out to others.
Isiphephelo outreach is an important part of our work and these are just a few stories and updates from our recent cases.
Please keep the people mentioned here and our community at large in your prayers.