“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela
Every day news headlines across the world shout out the sad tales of children killed, abandoned or put through unmentionable trauma by those they trusted most and that were supposed to care for them – their parents, close family members or other loved ones.
The vicious circle of socio-economic problems hit our children the hardest: A parent loses his or her employment; a married couple divorces; a child is born out of wedlock and cannot be cared for; a primary caregiver dies. In war-torn areas, children are mercilessly killed together with other innocent citizens and crime doesn’t distinguish between the guilty and the innocent either. All too often children are killed as they get caught in criminals’ crossfire. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse see broken children being accommodated and given hope for a brighter future in children’s homes, where professionally qualified staff counsel, educate and train these children in view of them being reintegrated into society as emotionally healthy and responsible citizens.
COACH – providing a haven for broken children since 1915
More and more children are suffering the ill effects of trauma as well as physical, sexual and emotional abuse in their young lives. Their self-esteem and emotions are severely affected and they need a home, a family and a sanctuary of peace and safety, where they can participate in healthy and purposeful activities that reintegrate them into society. Here they can also receive much needed therapy and counselling, while learning essential life skills in a stimulating learning environment. Social interaction and participation in extracurricular activities are also important.
Since 1915, the Anglican Church in South Africa has been assisting with healing abused and traumatized children between the ages of 0 and 18 (and some of the age of 21) through their three children’s homes located in Johannesburg, namely St George’s, St Nicholas and St Josephs. In 2002, the three children’s homes were grouped under the Coalition of Anglican Children’s Homes (COACH), and today professional care and hope for a brighter future for vulnerable children continue under the auspices of the Anglican Church of South Africa.
However, COACH’s care is not limited to the vulnerable children in the three children’s homes. They also reach out to the community with community awareness programs in communities in the three homes’ areas, aimed at improving the care of children and protecting the rights of children.
As the Festive Season approaches, let’s open our hearts, minds and wallets and give our broken children a Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Not a gift that is cleverly marketed with someone’s commercial gain in mind. No, this Christmas, think before you spend and give these children a gift of education, of love and of care. Let’s make this a Christmas that they will remember!
Here are some ideas on how you can contribute to healing the broken children of our world during this Festive Season and give them a Christmas they will remember.
Give them something they really need
So you are already planning the festive menu to celebrate the Festive Season with your loved ones? The Festive Season starts well ahead of Christmas and the New Year, so why don’t you plan something for a children’s home or orphanage close to you now already? Many children arrive at these children’s homes without basic items such as a towel, soap and toothpaste. Pay a visit to your supermarket, buy a number of these items, include a special gift and put it all in a shoe box, wrap the boxes in beautiful festive wrapping and take it to the children’s home. As the Festive Season often sees newly abandoned and traumatized children having to be accommodated, these beautifully wrapped boxes filled with necessities will come in handy.
Thinking ahead, you might want to provide them with some much needed stationery for the coming year, either to be used by the home itself for its own administrative needs or some stationery sets for the children at the home. A selection of colorful paper, pastels, crayons and even finger paint for the little ones is set to brighten up the new (academic) year when Christmas is over and done with.
Host a Christmas party- for the staff!
Often, you can help the children by looking after the caregivers first. Not all children in these children’s homes can be accommodated in nearby schools and the professional caregivers looking after the children often have to provide in the children’s educational needs as well as see to their psycho-social welfare. This can be challenging and these staff members will welcome the opportunity to relax. You can enlist the services of a mobile service and treat the staff members each to a well-deserved and relaxing head and neck massage.
Give a generous financial donation
If you cannot for whatever reason give back to the children in any of the ways suggested above, a generous financial donation to a registered children’s charity in Johannesburg is always welcome, as your selected charity or children’s home can then spend it where they know it is needed most and where it will make the biggest difference in the lives of those they care for.
Giving a financial donation is easy and can even be done online and anonymously should you prefer, but you will have to give your personal details if you want to receive a tax certificate, which will make it possible for you to deduct your donation from your personal (or company, in the case of it being a business donation) income tax.
You can make a difference in the lives of broken and vulnerable children by giving them a Christmas to remember. In the words of Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States of America (USA): “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”