I have written this post a couple of times, but kept deleting it. This post is on a distressing topic, the abuse of women and children, and in particular in South Africa over the festive season. The Children’s Hospital Trust invited me to take part in their 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign, to spread awareness and to ask for your help. The press pack I received contains stories and statistics which are hard to read, but they must be seen. #DontLookAway.
16 Days of activism
These stories flood me with emotions and I could share my own story, my own fears and the nightmares that steal my sleep. I have written them down and deleted them, as I know we all have our stories. We all are affected by the cycle of violence, and we all bear the scars. I know you can relate to this topic and you know the devastation it brings either personally or through someone close to you. Instead I want to share what we can do now, this moment, to make a difference. There are many children who need our help, and I want to share their stories. #DontLookAway.
Caitlyn* is a 4-month-old baby girl. While most children her age are cuddled close to their mother’s chests in a solid bubble of love, Caitlyn’s reality is violently different. Caitlyn was admitted to the Trauma Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital after she was raped by an adult male who was known to her family. Caitlyn’s case was sent to the child protection office and an investigation began. Caitlyn’s parents revealed that they were sleeping in their home – a wendy house – when a man climbed through the window and abducted Caitlyn and another 6-year-old boy that was also asleep in the room at the time. The adult male raped both Caitlyn and the 6-year-old boy he had kidnapped with Caitlyn.
A police case was opened and the perpetrator was arrested. After criminal court proceedings, he was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. Caitlyn was removed from her parents care and put in a place of safety. Caitlyn’s parents were under the influence of alcohol at the time of her abduction. After just 4 short months in this world, she has had to face more violence than most of us face in a lifetime.
Funeka* and Vuyo’s*story
Funeka* and Vuyo* were brought into the Trauma Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital by a family member. Overcome with a desperate need to end a vicious cycle of physical abuse, this family member disclosed a horrifying history of extreme physical, emotional and verbal abuse. Abuse suffered at the hands of their mother.
A physical examination of the siblings revealed no signs of recent abuse, but it was clear that both children were grappling with extreme Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 14-year-old Funeka expressed feelings of deep loneliness and said she felt that there was no one that truly cared for her. 7-year-old Vuyo was emotionally withdrawn, hyper-vigilant and suffered from restless and broken sleep.
A police case has been opened and the family member who brought the sibling to the Hospital has made a statement. She described feeling incredibly angry and helpless but was desperate to help these two children get back to a place where they felt safe and loved. In addition to continued therapy, a community-based social worker has also been tasked with investigating the care options for the children in the future. For now, they remain in this family member’s care.
* You do not need to know their names to know that they deserved a childhood
What would you give to end a child’s suffering?
Child Protection Packs
The Child Protection Office at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital sees an average of 40 to 50 cases child abuse every month. That’s close to (or in many cases over) 600 cases a year. 600 stories of empty childhoods. In cases of extreme abuse and neglect, children are removed from their homes and relocated to places of safety. Very often, these children leave with just the clothes on their back.
Their Child Protection office creates packs for children in situations like these. The packs are age-dependent and include things like hygiene products, toys, and snacks. The festive season usually brings with it a critical shortage in the number of packs they are able to supply. They call the festive season the surge season because the Hospital is like an electrical grid in the middle of a power surge. The rise in substance abuse means a rise in child abuse and child neglect.
This is where we need your help. You can see the need for these packs and we ask for donations of products which can be dropped off at their office. The list of items and contact details are below. If you are not based in Cape Town, or unable to drop off items, please donate to the cause. I donated, and I urge you to do the same. There will be children who will be abused and neglected this season, we cannot change this fact, but we can assist Child Protection with packs.
The Children’s Hospital Trust, South Africa
The Children’s Hospital Trust, South Africa, was established in 2007 and is the UK fundraising arm of The Children’s Hospital Trust, based in Cape Town. Together we raise vital funds to support the activities of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. In 2011 the Trust expanded its reach to fundraise for paediatric healthcare in the Western Cape and beyond.
100% of all received donations goes directly to the Hospital and prioritised paediatric healthcare needs. The Trust is a non-profit organisation that relies on the benevolence of donors to realise its aims and objectives. It enjoys a record of sound financial administration and good governance. Whilst it has raised funds to address many pressing needs, much has yet to be done.
This is not a sponsored post. The information and images were supplied by The Children’s Hospital Trust. The images of children being treated at the Hospital are not necessarily of the children depicted in the stories.