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When Hide & Seek is no longer a game
I’m sure you remember playing Hide & Seek as a kid. The search for a never-to-be-found hiding place, the exciting suspense, the squeals of delight on discovery. Sadly, today Hide & Seek has taken on a sinister character.
New-born babes are hidden in rubbish bins and other obscure places; those lucky enough to be found spend a lifetime seeking for their birth mothers. The same happens to abandoned and adopted children, ever searching for their ‘real’ parents.
Then there are those innocent young ones who try to hide from an abusive relative or so-called ‘friend’. The grim reality of adult ‘games’ causes them pain – physical, mental and emotional – scarring them for life. And there are young girls, still children, forced into prostitution, exploited by unfeeling adult pimps, hiding their fear and shame as so-called ‘men’ seek their childish charms.
The Salvation Army has seen it all. And we continue to deal with it, day after day. To combat what seems to be an escalating evil, we have set up sanctuaries for babies, young girls, and young boys.
Homes where they are loved and cared for, counselled to overcome their adult-infl icted trauma.
We also have crèches, where caring parents unable to cope financially can ‘hide’ their toddlers in the protective care of God’s workers. Seeking – and finding – love and care.
In Doornfontein, Johannesburg, you’ll find Ethembeni (Place of Hope) Children’s Home which has at any given time some 60 little children of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds. All are abandoned, abused or HIV/AIDS infected. They often include hours-old foundlings and stay here until age three when they join the older children in our care. Most are referred to Ethembeni through Johannesburg Child Welfare. Here they get all the loving care possible – medical, physical and emotional. What’s more, these little gifts from God go through a ‘dedication ceremony’, which is like a christening, adding more blessings from God for their future.
And in the Cape there are crèches in Bonteheuvel, which cares for 112 pre-school children, in Mitchell’s Plein where the crèche is part of the Church and Day-Care Centre, and a Kids’ Club at The Salvation Army Crossroads Church.
At all these sanctuaries, in notoriously dangerous areas, love is lavished on those who’ve found sanctuary through God’s guidance.
Back in the Vaal Triangle, in the heart of Soweto, are another 140 little ones, aged two to fi ve, enjoying day-time protection in the Bridgman Crèche, White City, Jabavu. Their day includes a hearty, healthy breakfast, lessons, some hyper-active play, then well-earned rest before being collected at 4.00 p.m.
Growing up . . .
The Joseph Baynes Children’s Home in Pietermaritzburg is noted for providing the warmth of a ‘home from home’, to the extent that many of the older 82 boys and girls who range from birth to 18 years old prefer the atmosphere here to that of distant relatives inclined to treat them as drudges on their rare visits. Most of the children come to Joseph Baynes through placement agencies and the courts, but two days before one recent Christmas God sent a very special gift – a new-born babe found on the side of the road in soaking rain.
The Salvation Army’s Strathyre Home for Girls in Kensington, Johannesburg, teaches young girls the life skills that enable them to cope with day-to-day issues. They learn how to make
good and wise decisions, budget, do an ATM transaction, read and understand legal agreements, and how to write a CV.
The Carl Sithole Centre is a massive, multi-faceted refuge that houses four independent facilities: The Salvation Army’s Bethany Children’s Home, Bethesda House and Carl Sithole Memorial Crèche, as well as Bethany Combined Primary, a government school catering for 300 students from grades one to eight.
Hiding to seek safety
Often a mother is as badly in need of a safe haven as her young. She needs to escape from the violence, often drunkenness, of an irresponsible spouse. Most of the 55 women and children who God guides to our Care Haven in Cape Town are victims of domestic violence. They are destitute – and it has taken great courage to leave the scene of their trauma. The children suffer from nightmares; many have been sexually abused by a relative. Trauma counselling is as important as TLC.
The Salvation Army provides both. . . . and seeking salvation Some youngsters, for whatever reason, turn to drug or alcohol abuse. Many are guided to our Hesketh King Treatment Centre, established in Cape Town 110 years ago. Here they ‘hide’ while undergoing an intensive eight-week programme that has an excellent success rate of salvation.
Oh yes, The Salvation Army knows all about hide and seek – the dark and sordid side that leads God’s children to us. And the fun and happy side as we watch our wards bloom and blossom as they enjoy real kids’ games with love and laughter.
As you can imagine, caring for so many of the country’s traumatised young ones is enormously costly and, with the spiralling cost of living, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. On behalf of The Salvation Army I thank you for your continued support that makes the search for sanctuary, safety and happiness still possible for those damaged children who never asked to be born.
To remind you for a little time to come just how much The Salvation Army appreciates your support please accept the enclosed small pocket/handbag-sized notepad with our blessings. I’m sure you’ll find it useful in many small ways – to make a quick shopping list, to solve an anagram for a crossword puzzle, work out a split bill in a restaurant . . .
May the joy of God be with you.
PS: As the constant postal strikes have dramatically reduced our income from donations, I urge you to use electronic banking when making your much-needed and appreciated contribution.