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In these dark days throughout the world, it is wonderful to report the success of young women who have overcome incredible odds thanks to The Salvation Army’s Carl Sithole Centre.
This centre in Klipspruit, Soweto, comprises the Bethany Children’s Home, Bethesda House, Carl Sithole Memorial Crèche and Bethany Combined School. The children here come from unspeakable hardship.
One emerging star is Thembi* (14) a beautiful, bright young lass who came to the centre six years ago, together with her two sisters and brother whose mother had been abused and burnt.
The children were placed in foster care, where the parents, would you believe abused and neglected them, not feeding them and forcing them to sleep outside. A social worker brought them to the Carl Sithole Centre.
Thembi is in grade 9 and doing well, especially in English and creative writing – she loves reading and writes poetry. Thembi dreams of being a model or actress, but also hopes to produce or write for TV/cinema. She’s also keen on motivational speaking so she can share her story and prove that there is hope.
“I am really happy at Bethany. We’re well looked after and I have learnt so much. I especially value learning about God,” comments Thembi.
A Major influence
Major Rosannah Ntshangase heads up the Carl Sithole Centre. Warm and approachable, she values each child who comes under her care. She finds it particularly joyous when they meet God for the first time, creating a strength that sees them through the rest of their lives.
“The Major is just like a mother to me,” says 18-year-old Ntombi* who came to Carl Sithole when she was ten. Today she has the bubbling enthusiasm to be a star in whatever field she chooses. “After my father left, my mom started drinking and in her drunken state became abusive. We lived in constant fear.Thank God, a neighbour called the police and a social worker soon took us kids to Carl Sithole,” Ntombi relates.
This confident, positive young woman is in matric and looking forward to taking on the world. While her favourite subjects are English and Life Orientation, her career choices at present lie between air-hostessing and singing – perhaps both! She also dreams of creating a place of safety for other unfortunate young girls.
“Being here is a blessing and the Major is especially kind and caring. She’s always ready to listen and give great advice.” says Ntombi. Ntombi’s mom has been in rehab to stop drinking and is doing better – and their relationship is getting stronger.
“Bethany was my home for seven years,” says Nelisiwe* with pride. She and a sister came to the Home in 2013, because of their mother’s alcoholic neglect and abuse. “The staff showed us love and compassion – and I loved them too,” says Nelisiwe.
Although she attended a special school for learners with intellectual disabilities, The Salvation Army helped her realize her dream to train as a nail technician. She is now working from home, looking after her family and their terminally ill mother. She plans to expand her business into a full beauty salon.
Doing the honours
When Lerato’s* mom passed away in 2015, she (aged 14) and her four younger siblings were left to fend for themselves. Their family shunned them. Social workers took them from their mother‘s shack to a place of safety before coming to Carl Sithole Centre two years later.
For the next four years, it was Lerato’s home. “I loved everything about it. All the things I’d never had before – plenty of space, my own bed, enough food, security, and lots of time to study.”
“I passed matric with flying colours, thanks to the amazing support and care I got from the staff. I lacked for nothing and focussed on study. Having received a bursary from the Gauteng Department of Education I am now doing my first year at Wits University, studying towards an honours degree in education to be a high school teacher. The bursary was earned for being one of the outstanding learners at my school.”
On the right wavelength
Ayanda*, now 19, was abandoned immediately after birth and The Salvation Army took her in and gave her a secure, caring and loving home in Bethesda House at the Carl Sithole Centre.
“Everything I am today, and everything I‘ve learnt, is through The Salvation Army. The people there became my family, honoured, respected and loved. They shaped my spiritual identity and my Christian values.”
Since completing her schooling in 2020, Ayanda has been staying with a loving Christian family. She’s now in her first year at Boston Media House, where she is studying radio and TV production. “It has always been my passion to work in these media, and I am so grateful to The Salvation Army for giving me this opportunity,” this rising star concludes.
Reading the stories of these exceptional women makes me very proud of the organisation I work for, The Salvation Army, and grateful to you our brilliant supporters, who I’m sure, get the same vicarious sense of achievement as we do. Sadly the incidence of abandonment and abuse is increasing, and demands on our very limited resources are becoming a nightmare. Once again we plead with you, our lifeline, to be super generous at this time.
Thank you sincerely for your caring. God bless you.
Captain Velani Buthelezi
Public Relations Secretary
Southern Africa Territory
*Names changed to protect identities