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As author John Holmes once said: “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” This epitomises the actions of our SSH Cape Town office, as it decided to give back to the immediate community in celebration of this year’s National Women’s Day in South Africa on 9 August.
Ons Plek, located in the suburb of Mowbray, Cape Town, is currently the only housing child and youth care centre in the city that specialises in developmental and therapeutic intake services for girls who have lived, worked or begged on the streets. This worthy organisation was chosen as the focus of SSH’s charity drive.
On 8 August, a generous donation of much-needed items collected over the previous week in the Cape Town office was presented to the residents of Ons Plek. Nicky Joshua and Andiswa Majwede (Head Assistant and Children Caregiver, respectively) welcomed the SSH team with open arms as they delivered toiletries, sanitary ware and various dried goods in abundance.
Physical abuse, neglect, or being sent away by families who cannot support them are just some of the reasons girls become homeless. Each year, almost 150 girls between the ages of six and 18 years are forced to fend for themselves on the streets of Cape Town. Due to the deterioration of socioeconomic conditions in South Africa, this number increases yearly.
Statistically, female street children are the poorest of the poor and as a minority group (12 per cent of street children are girls) are seldom catered for by projects set up to help them.
The programme at Ons Plek is designed to empower the girls to cope with life. While adjusting to a structured environment, a social worker and child care staff members investigate the girls’ home circumstances. For 70 per cent of them, there is a supervised return to their families, who are assisted in resolving their difficulties. Of those remaining, 75 per cent return to school.
“Since our doors opened in 1989, we have helped more than 2,000 girls. From a yearly average of 100 girls on the streets, it is now generally under seven girls,” says Nicky Joshua, Head Assistant at the centre. “Most girls attend school, with support from the homework tutor. Creative educational workshops also help girls build important learning skills.”
Ons Plek aims to empower all the girls by instilling a sense of responsibility for themselves. Each girl must participate in household duties, including cooking and grocery shopping. Household decisions and rules are made by girls and staff members together.
Thank you to every member of the SSH Family who added to the successful outcome of this charity drive.
Ons Plek, Mowbray, currently houses 16 young girls. Other branches are in Woodstock, Cape Town, and the small town of Philippi, in the Cape region. Visit Ons Plek 's website at www.onsplek.org.za to find out more about how this cause helps young women. If you would also like to help, the website has a donations section, so you too can make a difference.