Masizame Children's Shelter has been active for over 13 years and is home to 23 children that are there for various reasons, ranging from having no home of their own, parents who cannot afford to look after them, to abuse. These children were potential, or actually were street children but with a lot of love and care we have managed to get them all to go to school on a daily basis. These are children who really do not want to be on the streets, but basically had no other option. They receive clothing, three meals a day, supervision over homework, counselling, camps, art lessons, sports activities and outings. For those children who do have a family to go back to, and with the help of Social Worker and Project Director, Rosaline Claasens, they work on rehabilitating the child and then re-uniting them with their respective families. Once they have left the shelter, the staff constantly visit the families and schools, to make sure all is well and help in any way. Should the child not be coping and problems arise, they are welcome to come back and live at the shelter, as there is an open door policy.
MASIZAME YOUTH CENTRE or DROP-IN
Masizame Youth Centre is situated in New Horizons and was formerly known as the 'Drop-In'. This is another shelter for the street children, children who are not yet ready to live at the shelter or they are simply too old to go to the shelter. The staff are there not only as support, but we also provide them with their meals, clothing, skills training, outings, motivational camps and medical attention. We offer various activities for them, run a full bridging and skills program and take them on outings as part of a reward system. Facilities are available for these children to shower and do their laundry. They have formed a very strong soccer team over the past four years. Attempts are made to get them involved in working projects. A number of teenagers would like to start a gardening service and the staff are currently working together with the municipality to implement this. These teenagers have very low self worth due to the fact that they have not had the opportunity to an education and basically do not understand a stable home environment. Over the years we have built up a relationship of trust with these children, as they only know disappointment and rejection in their lives. The children that have been with the shelter for a long while have a more positive attitude and want to do something with their lives, this is a great influence for the new children that come onto the register.
MASIZAME PREVENTION PROGRAMME - OUTREACH CRECHE
Roseline Claasens, the Project Manager discovered there is a desperate need for a crèche on the premises. There are children ranging from the age of two to five years old, who have either been abandoned or have no one to look after them during the day. These children just spend the day wondering around Qolweni, Bossiesgif or New Horizons. A central pick up/drop off zone has been established in a place called The Gaaitjie, as these are the areas where the street child phenomenon begins. Everyday Nel or Edwin take the bakkie down there to round up these children and bring them back to Masizame. There they are feed breakfast and a full mornings programme is run with them. Lunch, clothing and all the medical care they might need is provided. One thing we have to understand about these children is that they have been hardened by the street life and at this young age have been exposed to many things such as violence, drugs, alcohol and even worse terrible abuse.
The shelter have a regular group of 85 to 100 kiddies they collect on a daily basis. At first these children would arrive with no underwear on and it was necessary to sort through donations to find some for them. It would be impossible to send them to a mainstream nursery school at this stage. The goal is to bridge the gap and work towards the prevention of another child that would turn to the streets.
This is a long process, but in order to make sure these children do not turn to the streets, contact has to be made now, so to speak, at this age. A handful of these parents who are unemployed are volunteers at the shelter and help with the care of the crèche children.
CHILDREN OF THE STREET
For the hardened street child, it is unfortunately too late for most of them to return to school as by the age of seven they have already been exposed to drugs, petrol and dagga and are mostly addicts already. The Masizame Street Worker goes down into town on a daily basis to try and encourage these children to come up to the Drop-In for meals. Edwin is also there to offer support to these children through the project.
Rosaline Claasens and the Youth Care Workers meet on a regular basis with the parents to offer counselling, education and support. Once the child is ready, the child will also participate in these meetings. Masizame will be taking the parents on a camp as part of the rehabilitation and support offered to the parents. Rosaline encourages the parents to come up to the shelter to participate and help in the running of the shelter.
Masizame supports three home schools in the Quolweni, Bossiesgif and Gaaitjie region. Parents have opened their homes for these children as places of safety. They go down each afternoon to deliver food for these children.
The Committee and Staff of Masizame believe in forming partnerships/networks with various community projects. At present we have members on the Knysna HIV/AIDS Forum, members on the Plettenberg Bay HIV/AIDS Forum, the IDP, Police Forum, Rotary, FAMSA and attend open meetings of the Business Chamber of Commerce when invited.
Over the years Masizame have been blessed with a wonderful group of Volunteers who are supervised by Rosaline. These volunteer services ranged from a housewife cooking a meal for the children on a daily basis, sewing curtains or sweaters, providing teaching skills, counselling or sports coaching to a a handyman fixing up the shelter.
Masizame is in need of the following volunteers on an ongoing basis :-
* Artisans - Handyman - The shelter is in need of some urgent TLC
* Garden Service - Twice a month, Masizame play areas at their Childrens Shelter and Youth Centre need a mow and trim
* Food - Any donations of nutritious food is most welcome
* Teachers / Sports Coaches to assist on their various programmes
* Care Givers - If you love children and can devote a time each week on a regular basis, staff would very much appreciate a helping hand
* Fund Raisers - Utilise your talents and personal networks to help fund raise for a worthy cause.
Masizame have a wonderful, very dedicated, long-standing committee and staff members, but they do need the finances to ensure the continuing success of their project. This has been an ongoing Community Development Project and our continued success relies on sponsorship and donations.
If there be anything you would like to ask us with regards to the project, please do not hesitate to contact us at Masizame.