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The heartbeat of 80/156 broken hearts, now joined in a joyous reach for a good life, creates a symphony that vibrates through the Carl Sithole Centre in Klipspruit, Soweto. It was named after this Major of The Salvation Army who devoted his life to bettering the lives of young people and so help them rise to the best of their ability and full potential.
Sadly, every child here has faced severe trauma, from the littlest three-year-olds to the almost adult eighteens. Abuse, neglect, parent alcoholism, chronic hunger through extreme poverty … all have played their role.
Being rescued by The Salvation Army, thanks to your help, has changed their lives. For many this is the first time they have a place to call home. The first time they know safety and security – and love. Your invaluable support, your compassion and understanding, not only of their need to survive, but to re-build their lives makes the world of difference to their future prospects.
The Centre comprises four important facilities, each with its own building, each designed for its purpose.
Originally established in the 1930s as a home for young girls with behavioural problems, today Bethany Children’s Home is a place of safety for 60 girls, from ten to 18 years old, who come from dysfunctional families. This is another Salvation Army home where the children develop a sense of their own self-worth.
In 1993 we opened Bethesda House –the first home to accept abandoned children infected with HIV/AIDS. It particularly caters for the very young – 36 boys and girls aged from two to nine years.
On a completely different tack is the Carl Sithole Memorial Creche where 60 pre-school kiddies are introduced to the more cerebral things of life – creativity, story-telling, discussion, music and spiritual guidance. Each day they enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch and two snacks. They’re also taught various life skills such hygiene – and are prepped for their first year at school.
The young hearts in these three homes, like those in all similar Salvation Army facilities across the country, do not find extravagance or luxury, but they do find a priceless wealth of smiles, hugs, friendship, love and understanding. They are also made to feel welcome and important because someone really cares about them. These children are an integral part of the future of our country.
Also on the property of the Carl Sithole Centre is the governmental Bethany Combined Primary school. This facility adds an extra, exciting vibe to the Centre and caters for 300 children attending grades one to eight.
The Carl Sithole Centre is indeed a living monument to a man who had his heart in the right place.