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Lisa* was a lovely young mother of three when a gang of males decided to have their ‘fun’ with her and set about raping her for what seemed like hours. Her tears and screams did not stop them from continuing to have their enjoyment. Inevitably their crime resulted in a pregnancy. Nine months later Precious* was born.
Joyce Sebogodi, the lead carer at Ethembeni Children’s Home related the tragic stories of Precious and little Faith*. When precious was born, Lisa felt no love for the baby girl. She didn’t even want to look at her or hold her. She wanted to give her to someone who could love her as she could not. Understandably, she was still traumatised by the gang-rape. Her child would always be a reminder of that day.
Precious arrived at Ethembeni when she was only four weeks old and was immediately hospitalized: she had a massive growth on the side of her head which even deformed part of her face. The growth was removed and at six months she is now a thriving, healthy and happy baby. “We all love her very dearly,” Joyce claimed triumphantly.
“In November 2018 another distressed mother abandoned her new-born baby, Faith,” Joyce continued. “Her mother had abandoned her in the hospital where she was born, having shown no interest in her whatsoever, even refusing to feed or bath the wee mite.” Two months after her rescue, Faith started getting boils all over her tiny body – even on her head. Then she developed a nappy rash which turned into blisters! Even the hospitals doctor’s were puzzled as they had never seen anything like it. After numerous different courses of antibiotics she has healed and is now crawling and trying to walk and talk. “Soon she’ll be ready for our toddler section,” stated Joyce proudly.
Ethembeni, situated in a quiet corner of Doorfontein in Johannesburg, is home to 60 little ones from new-borns to four-year-olds. The name means ‘hope’ – which it is always full of. It’s easy to understand why Ethembeni brings prospects of a bright future into so many tiny hearts and why these little ones love Joyce and the rest of the staff. No child in the world asks to be born unwanted or unloved. The warmth and affection they get from our staff will be the closest most of them will ever come to having a real-life mommy and it’s nothing short of wonderful what the love of a mommy kind of person can do in the life of a little girl or boy.
The home works closely with child welfare. Many have been cruelly abandoned – in fields, toilets, shopping malls and on street corners. Many in the Home are fostered or adopted, strictly to rule to ensure that adoptive and foster parents are suitable.
Beth Shan – a place of healing
New Year’s Day 2018 dawned with traditional hope. “Within hours it turned into a day of horror, fear and excruciating pain caused by the abuse my husband inflicted on me. It also marked the end of my four-year marriage.” So said Anette* (40), relating how she came to be at Beth Shan, a Salvation Army home for abused women.
The drinking and abuse started two years after their wedding. The more he drank, the more vicious he became. On that New Year’s day he objected to Anette having offered to help a friend move.
“While hitting and punching me, he threatened to kick me out of the house – which he then did. Battered and scared l had no idea what to do, where to go.”
A few days later Anette returned to ask for a divorce. He beat her again. She subsequently got a Court Protection Order which he broke several times. Ultimately through Legal Aid she got a divorce. Now, feeling alone and unsafe, she was also deeply depressed. “I had to leave Pietermaritzburg, start somewhere fresh and safe. But where?” I heard about Beth Shan, a safe shelter in Pretoria.
With tear-streaked cheeks, Anette stressed how grateful she was to be here. How friendly, kind and caring the Administrator Major Moya Hay is. How welcoming her gift parcel was that included her own Bible and a Teddy Bear to hug for comfort!
“Here the pressure’s off, there’s time to heal, to think of my future. I have a passion for stitch work and knitting. The skills I have can earn me a living. Beth Shan is a place of healing. In the short time I’ve been here, I already have an extraordinary sense of peace.”
Hope*. Shelters would not take her in with a child. Sleeping on the streets and in parks was not safe.
One morning, sitting on a street corner, crying, a lady approached and suggested she go to a police station for possible help. After making a few calls, the police officer told Joyce he’d found a place for her to stay – Beth Shan.
Mom and baby arrived, exhausted, hungry, dirty and with just the clothes on their backs. She also recalls how warm and welcoming Major Hay was. She was overwhelmed to receive a gift of a towel, toiletries and fresh clothes.
“I learnt so much at Beth Shan,” commented Joyce. “How to do decoupage, bead work, and mosaic. I was even their first student to attain a certificate for computer skills. I learnt to pray and read my Bible, believe in miracles. To have discipline and order. Today I get through tough situations. I trust again. And forgive. I was part of a family and experienced kindness, caring, love and trust.”
Six years ago, Joyce*, a young Zimbabwean, arrived in South Africa to look for work. Sadly, Joyce, then 24, got into an abusive relationship that ended, after two years of hell, with her homeless and an eight-month-old baby. After seven months Joyce felt ready to leave Beth Shan. She got a good job at a boutique hotel and affordable accommodation. “I am so grateful for my stay at Beth Shan and keep in touch to encourage the ladies to have faith.”
Now we come to an affectionate loving mother who was destroyed when her partner brought home a new young pregnant girlfriend. Margie* had been constantly beaten by this man from the time of their babys birth and he had now turned them out. She needed to find a home for her and her precious little treasure. Penniless and without hope she was guided to Beth Shan.
Immediately she found herself and her baby accepted and loved in this home for abused and trafficked women. She knew that her bruises on her skin would heal but what about the internal damage, the emotional hurt would it ever truly go away? Here women and children are promised anonymity and protection, care and understanding.
“We are not about accommodation, we’re about restoration,” said Major Moya. “We’re all about empowerment – they’re ready to leave when they are feeling that they have the strength of God within them.” It is here that they come to find temporary shelter: women and child victims of domestic violence and cruelty, rape survivors, women who’ve been evicted from their homes or who live in fear in parks, and some who’ve escaped from a situation of human trafficking.
These are just some of the hundreds of abused and trafficked women who havebeen rescued at Beth Shan from the abuse for which males in South Africa are notorious. These women today fly the flag of The Salvation Army for the Christian love and understanding they have been blessed to welcome into their hearts.
Giving the famished a feast
The tantalising aroma of roast pork wafts up from The Salvation Army’s South Rand Corps where Nelly Mandega, Matilda Mupanedengu and Fiona Abrahams are preparing this delicious roast and veggy lunch for 50 to 60 guests! The ladies are all part of Home League and Community Care Ministries (CCM). Their guests will be the poor of the local community.
Nelly, who comes from Zimbabwe, proudly admits to having grown up in The Salvation Army. Being part of CCM has inspired her to help the less fortunate. “Our biggest challenge,” she says, “is not always having enough food donations. It’s unthinkable to say to these poor people ‘sorry we don’t have enough for you’. So we appeal to our members to help to us feed this community.”
Matilda, a dressmaker who lives in Rosettenville with her three kids, takes great pride in helping prepare these Sunday meals. “I am so blessed,” she says “This is my way of giving back.”
Fiona Abrahams makes the Sunday school breakfast for 60-70 kids each week, then helps with the lunch for the poor and homeless.
The South Rand Corps also has an active Youth Committee which tackles ways to raise funds for their various projects, and Lt. Owen Mutize conducts rousing strong Sunday services to spread the Gospel.
“There are a lot of children here,” he commented, “and it’s so rewarding to see them not only enjoying the bowl of porridge we give them, but bringing their parents to church!” He’s also busy with hospital visits and ministering to old-age homes in the area.
When Sunday services are over, a long luncheon queue has already formed – moms, dads, kids, singles, young, old, some homeless … All wait patiently for this much-needed meal in these tough times.
Thy will be done
“Are you sure about this?” the Estate Planner asked the elderly lady sitting opposite her. “Oh yes, very, sure, I have no family, and there are a few items that are very precious to me and I would really like each of them to go to someone who will really value them when I’m gone. What’s left I’d love The Salvation Army to have.”
This is not the recommended way you go about making your own Will. But we must stress the importance of making your ‘last will and testament’ no matter what age you are, and being aware that you will undoubtedly change it sometimes along the way. Life is too uncertain to put it off. Dying intestate leaves an incredible burden on whoever has to sort out your estate.
First of all you want to take care of your loved ones, family and others dear to you. After all, you’ve worked hard for your money and you’ll want to ensure that your family can continue the good life you’ve carved out for them.
There’s possibly also a lot that doesn’t mean much to them but would be hugely appreciated by a lot of strangers. This is when it’s a great idea to consider a non-profit organisation like The Salvation Army which takes care of many thousands of the most poverty-stricken, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the country.
We need clothes of all sizes and shapes for people of both sexes and all ages. We need furniture for our many homes throughout the country, pictures and nick knacks to brighten the walls and surfaces, equipment for numerous kitchens, books to expand minds, sports equipment for our growing youngsters. And tools for those studying trade. Anything you can think of, we need.
Generous donors have had halls or centres named after them. All leave a significant and lasting impact on the lives of those who, coming into our care, now have their own aspirations.
Should you choose to include us in your will, communication will be in strictest confidence. You can speak to our legacy fundraising officer, Ethresia van Staden, on 011 718 6708, your lawyer or financial adviser about your last wishes. If you have already included us in your Will, we thank you sincerely and gratefully. God bless you.
Action is our goal for 2020
Dear Reporter Reader,
This year, The Salvation Army is marking 2020 as The Year of Action. The stories we have brought to you in this issue of Reporter, certainly shows the tremendous impact our carers have on those poor souls who seek our help. This is particularly impressive in our homes for abused women and for little children.
While it is sickening to read of the abuse too many of our women have to suffer – shamefully South Africa has the highest incidence in the world – it is inspiring to learn how magnificently those we’ve helped have responded. How our homes bring peace and hope into their lives. And how our dedicated guidance and teaching changes their future, giving new direction and bringing success.
Particularly tragic is the effect that rape can have on a woman, especially the utter degradation of gang rape. It can lead to the total rejection of an unwanted child who may, in turn, suffer all sorts of psychological problems for much of their life.
These are challenges our carers are faced with day after day. And it is our privilege to be able to call on God’s help, on His wisdom and guidance, to effect a change. And sharing our faith and prayers makes a monumental difference in helping our clients reach ‘normality’ through forgiveness, understanding, and building a new and better future.
We have shared some truly inspiring stories here – stories of wonderful recovery and faith in the future that you have helped create through your generous support. Only through this support can we actively help these minor miracles take shape. Thank you and God bless you.
* Please note: all the names in these stories have been changed to protect identities.