On 20 November we observe World Children’s Day, which promotes international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. In recognition of this day, we shine the spotlight on an extraordinary organisation, the Jakaranda Children’s Home, whose mission it is to create and increase the value of children through healing, education, culture, and hope.
We learned more about the work of Jakaranda Children’s Home from Ina Kotze (marketing and fundraising) and Elizabeth Mahlangu (central distribution centre for food, toiletry & cleaning product donations). Jakaranda is a registered children’s home that cares for children placed in their care by the Children’s Court. The children, aged three to 18 years, are housed on two ‘campuses’ in Pretoria, Jakaranda Children’s Home and Louis Botha Children’s Home. There are 20 and nine houses at Jakaranda and Louis Botha, respectively.
Education and extra-curricular activities
Each day, they transport the children from the two sister campuses to and from 23 different schools, pre-schools, primary schools, special schools, and high schools. Ina refers to this as their “daily logistic miracle”. Every child has different extracurricular activities assigned to them by their designated social worker. Volunteers also offer their skills and time, for example, doing soccer and karate with the children. The homes are extremely grateful and appreciative of such pro bono initiatives.
Collecting and distributing donations
Elizabeth manages the daily roster by which her colleagues, Jabu Gamede and John Monama need to collect donations from donors. Upon receipt of donations, the food is checked, sorted, and distributed amongst the houses by Elizabeth and Sarah Baloyi. The house parents prepare three nutritious meals a day for the children in their care so that the children can grow up in as normal a family environment as possible, sitting at a table and eating together with their “mother” and “siblings”. The house parent is responsible for 10 to 12 children of various ages, which means different schools and different homework.
Providing a safe place for vulnerable children
The courts place the children due to various reasons. Some of the children are removed from their parents, some are allowed to visit their parents, and some parents can visit their children under the supervision of social workers. In some instances, parents are not allowed to know where their children have been placed. The two campuses are currently busy with matric farewell celebrations, for their 19 matriculants. The two campuses are registered to take care of school-going children, so after matric, the children must leave the Children’s Home. The social workers try to find bursaries or jobs for those leaving, and if possible, a place to stay.
The partnership with FoodForward SA
Jakaranda and Louis Botha has been beneficiary organisations of FoodForward SA’s Virtual Foodbanking programme, managed by the FoodShare platform, for the past two years. This allows them to receive regular donations of surplus food (food that has reached its ‘Sell By’ date but before the ‘Best Before’) from their nearest Woolworths store. Elizabeth tells us “The food is still very fresh, we wouldn’t call it “waste” as you call it because it’s still very fresh when we receive it. For example, if we collect on a Saturday, we can still consume the food on Monday, that’s one thing I’ve noticed and the other thing is when we log in, the FoodShare service is spectacular”.
Some more inspiring words from Jakaranda
Says Ina: “Our every effort is to enable and empower the children while we have the opportunity and to help them develop their skills and talents. So that we can place a well-developed individual back into the community and they can then in their different communities make a difference. We want the employer to say because this child was in this children’s home, we want them in our employment; that is our effort, to raise empowered enablers – that is what’s important to us. To get that message out, Because we care”.
FoodForward SA is proud to have Jakaranda & Louis Botha Children’s Home as one of more than 2,500 beneficiary organisations in our BO network. The partnership demonstrates how our foodbanking model serves as a critical lever for transforming the lives of vulnerable children.
Images and permission to use images were provided by Ina Kotze and Elizabeth Mahlangu.
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