Our mission is to reach out to the vulnerable children in Zwelihle and try to heal their broken little lives.
IZIBUSISO is a joint venture between the United Church in Hermanus and Hermanus Child Welfare and seeks to address the plight of small children in Zwelihle. With the scourges of unemployment, poverty, alcohol, drug addiction and HIV-Aids severely affecting certain sections of local communities, it is most often the innocents, the children, who suffer. We believe that every child is a blessing from God and as such should be loved and cherished. At Izibusiso we accommodate up to eight abandoned or vulnerable children under the age of three years and care for them until suitable long term arrangements can be made for their futures.
This joint initiative works well with Child Welfare undertaking the statutory placements of children in the house and the church managing it on a day to day basis.
Izubusiso opened in February, 2009. The house is modelled on a normal family home and consists of a House Mother and between 6 to 8 children under the age of 3 years – two assistant House Mothers plus one relief Mother create a good mother to child ratio. We also have the input from a group of women from the United Church (known as the Izibusiso Angels), who go in on a daily basis to work with the children.
We ensure that the children are brought up according to their own culture (in our house the Xhosa culture is observed) as we are aware that they came from homes of a specific culture and will be returned to homes of that same culture. They also live within the community where they were born and are brought up as part of that community, speaking their mother tongue.
Most of the children who are admitted to Izibusiso have heartbreaking stories to tell, some are brought to us when they are 6 hours old, many are severely undernourished and emotionally fragile, some have never known a stable and loving environment – Izibusiso is their first experience of a warm, caring home.
Health and nutrition:
Because most of the children arrive undernourished and with compromised health, we have a stringent medical protocol and several different sources of medical assistance we can call upon when needed. These resources include a paediatrician, a general practitioner who makes calls to the house, a panel of doctors who will see the children at their consulting rooms, the Zwelihle Clinic, the Provincial Hospital Clinic, the Aids Clinic and, when necessary, the Casualty Department of the Provincial Hospital.
Our eating plan for the children has been drawn up by a registered dietitian and includes all the necessary food stuff required for healthy development; the diet also includes cultural food. Senior boys from the local Hermanus High School installed a vegetable garden using old tyres – the healthy vegetables grown in our own garden help provide the children with fresh greens for their diet.
We are constantly amazed when we see what a difference love, good nutrition and medical care make to these children – we see them blossom before our very eyes. The happy faces, robust little bodies and playful energy they expend say it all.
Ensuring the future:
Together with Child Welfare we have monthly meetings to review each child, their progress and the plans for their futures. Each child must ultimately move on to a permanent home, one where they will be loved, and where they will feel wanted. Our wish is that every child could be repatriated to loving parents, but this is not always possible, often the parents are dead, absent or unable to function as good parents. The next placement of choice would be within a unit of their own family, grandparents, aunts, etc, failing which permanent foster homes or adoption are investigated. When adoption is the preference, we work with an accredited Christian Adoption Agency, ABBA Adoptions.
We love these little people from the moment they arrive, enjoy them while they are with us, and cry when they leave – but we understand that they need their own special ‘forever’ families in order to grow up as normally as possible.
The Legal Aspect:
Children placed at Izibusiso fall under the protection of Hermanus Child Welfare. There are three different categories of placement:
PLACE OF SAFETY: The child is sheltered while Child Welfare and the Children’s Court decide on the road forward. This placement can last up to 3 months and can often result in a transfer to Foster Care.
FOSTER CARE: The child is placed in the foster care of the House Mother until a permanent placement can be organised (either repatriation to the parents, a family member, foster parents or permanent adoption). This placement has no time limit.
SHORT STAY: Children at risk brought in by the police are admitted on a short term basis (usually one or two nights) until parents have been located and Child Welfare has authorised their release.
THE MISSION STATEMENT of the United Church:
• To know Christ
• To love one another
• To touch a broken world in His name
“That in all things Jesus might have pre-eminence” (Col 1:19)
…is the reason we reach out to the vulnerable children in Zwelihle and try to touch their broken little worlds.