Safe Haven for children
After our return flights back to Thailand were cancelled we joined up with my Aunt's non profit organisation in South Africa, Ranyaka , helping in any way that we could - whether it was to pack and deliver food parcels or make people aware of the dangers of Covid-19. Mid September I was asked if I could take a look at a community centre in the town of Cloetesville, Stellenbosch (Western cape province) to see if there were any repair jobs I could help out with. The centre was once a theatre (the Breughel) and over the years, it has become a multi-functional centre run on a shoestring budget by a team of volunteers from the local community. The structure is sound, but this incredible space with so much potential is in desperate need of a make-over. With your help, I would love to transform, furnish and equip the room where abused women and children are counselled. When I met the centre's chairperson, Lamees de Klerk and trauma counsellor, Magdalene Blankenberg, they shared their stories with me and their hopes for what they want to achieve. The neighbourhood of Cloetesville offers virtually no recreational or training activities for the town's youth. Covid-19 has been hard on most people but there's no doubt the people from poverty stricken areas have had it the worst. Crime went up as jobs were terminated and food became scarce. The Breughel centre has become a place where people can come in and feel safe to use the space in any way they want to benefit the community. Whether it be through cooking, boot camps, dance lessons, training or entertaining, just the vibe of this place is heartwarming. After hearing the story of Magdelene, the child counselor, I was speechless and instantly moved. Her one mission in life is to help children and women who have been abused or neglected. Unfortunately the need is so great that government's social services can't deal with all the cases. Also, kids aren't always comfortable to go to the police or child welfare. They feel safe here. It takes brave people like Magdalene and Lamees to take things into their own hands and create a place where good people can get together and help guide and show others a path to a better future. I have started working on the counseling room that is tucked away in one of the back rooms. We want to create a cosy place where children can come and feel safe to open up to talk about what has happened to them. At the moment our budget is small and just enough for some paint, cladding and new lights, but with a little bit of charity we could fix up the washroom, supply the Counselors with the right tools and make this place a real safe haven where children can start their path of healing.