Urgent Evoke

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Sakhumzi Children's Home - A Story That Needs Telling

Just a share about a children's home in Cape Town..

Sakhumzi, which means 'shelter' in Xhosa, was started by Amelia Poswa some 30 years ago, when she recognised the need to draw homeless and unwanted children into her extended and ever-growing family in a township suburb of Cape Town. It began in a very small and informal way when she took in her first child as part of her family, but the number of children grew quickly as the word spread regarding a 'safe and homely haven'. The home is still making a huge difference in the lives of many children who have either passed through or still live in her home today. Amelia is affectionately known as 'Mama' or 'Mama Amelia' by all the children.

Despite extremely limited space, the number of children in Amelia's home has grown to 96. In terms of her equal-sharing and equal up-bringing ethos, every child is just as special to Amelia as if they were her own. Fortunately there are a number of volunteer adult helpers, two of which have grown up as Amelia’s children and since married. They are constantly on hand to help and support the home.

The house in which Amelia's family lives is situated in Mfuleni, a township about 25 km east of Cape Town on the Cape Flats. It is a single-storey dwelling that has been extended many times to cater for her expanding family. Besides the living room, kitchen and ever-busy laundry, all other space is crowded with beds, double and triple bunk-beds, some of which were made by the older children. The children don’t have space to store their own clothes and belongings, but are happy to 'pool' their resources, which are often re-allocated on either a needs basis or 'first come, first served' basis.

The children vary in age from toddlers to 21 years old, and many have been with Amelia as long as they can remember. Some of the younger children are taught on an informal basis at home, but they are always in need of educational toys and materials. The older children attend the local primary and high schools close-by and are always encouraged to learn. However, school fees and clothing for the 64 school-going children often present unexpected expenses. Uniforms and school equipment for the older children are just some of the outstanding and continuing problems.

Amelia’s recent exciting developments include additions and enhancements to her home. These include expanding and enclosing the outside area in front of the garage giving further protection from the elements. The front of the house has been extended providing more space for beds, together with their first internal fireplace. Amelia has been blessed with a replacement Combi vehicle, which should be a lot more reliable then her previous transport. Amelia’s home is a beacon in the community and once inside, the atmosphere is warm and friendly, and despite the obvious lack of space, the children seem to cope very well.

A major concern for Amelia is the general lack of facilities and space for her children. Despite this, Amelia continues to be driven by her primary vision to build and develop her own children’s village in the community. As part of this process, she has been allocated a large piece of open land on which she hopes to build a much bigger new home, workshops and create her own agricultural small-holding. With the right sponsorship and support, Amelia will be able to achieve her dream. It is also proposed to introduce and encourage the children to become involved and develop commercial skills, such as building and carpentry.

There are plans to formalise a new trust company to help realise Amelia’s dreams by co-ordinating marketing and fundraising efforts and provide administration/management support.

In the meantime, Amelia has to keep her existing house running smoothly and effectively, which requires an enormous amount of effort, self-will and enthusiasm, not to mention financial support. Amelia tackles this almost single-handedly but she hopes and prays for donations from any source in order to meet her monthly budget.

Amelia is a 'one-in-a-million' person. She is dynamic and totally dedicated to the wellbeing of her extended family, both physically and spiritually. Without her determination and the encouragement she gives to her helpers and the children, many of them would either be destitute or on the streets. Amelia needs constant support and encouragement and this can be achieved with outside help and financial aid in the form of regular donations or a monthly debit order.







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