HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CENTRE:

Angels’ Care was first established in 2001, when Zanele Radebe saw a few children scratching in her rubbish bin looking for food. She started to feed them, others noticed and volunteered to assist. The numbers grew and the Angels’ Care Centre, named after Zanele, dubbed “Angel of Mercy”, was registered as a NPO 020-084 in April 2002, the primary object being the interests and rights of needy children within the Umngeni Municipal Area.

Initially Angels Care had no formal premises, but at the end of 2008 a property in Morling Street, opposite the Police Station, was purchased and in 2010 we were able to build an additional building to house the Pre-school. This enables us to undertake a number of projects, including a pre-school, an aftercare program and a weekly feeding scheme.

While the Centre is a faith based ministry it is not tied to a specific denomination or congregation, but incorporates into its Mission, Vision and Values, Christian principles that are universal such as love, patience, kindness, faithfulness, fairness, humility and service to others. In doing so we require sensitivity to and respectful tolerance of ethnic, religious and cultural differences of our volunteers, staff and the children and families we serve.

Initially the children were fed weekly on the side of the main road, near one of the informal settlements. Today there are up to 250 children who are fed on a Saturday morning. Per kind favour of our many donors, including Pick ’n Pay and Fairfield Dairy, there is sufficient bread, buns, yoghurt and fruit for them to eat at the time, as well as to take some home with them. While at the Centre we attempt to help children with basic health care and also to provide them with much needed access to water and sanitation.

We realised that without education there would never be upliftment of the community, so a pre-school for 3 – 6 year old children was started at St Luke’s Anglican Church, under the care of Elizabeth Zondi. All educational programs including the pre-school and a bridging class for children who have never had the opportunity to attend school, is now under the efficient management of our principal, Mr. Damon Shaw.

To address some of the educational challenges faced by older children, we also supply uniforms to indigent children at some of the local primary and secondary schools using donations we have received. In addition, we run a successful aftercare program in the afternoons to help 50 children with their homework, give them some experience of arts and crafts, and to allow them to participate in sport.

Due to the Centre catering to children from poverty stricken communities and our knowledge that the rate of sexual offences committed against women and children has reached alarming levels in South Africa in recent years, Angels Care resolved to open a crisis centre in 2015 which would cater for child victims of gender based violence in the Howick area in the KZN Midlands within the Umngeni local municipality. The need for such a facility exists, as the closest facility where children can currently obtain assistance is often more than 50km from where the children reside. Due to such challenges many cases of gender-based violence are unreported and the children and their caregivers never receive assistance of any kind. Angels Care Centre has built a crisis centre facility consisting of a medical examination room, a counselling room, reception area and a victim friendly statement taking room where the South African Police Services are able to meet with the children and their families. It furthermore has ablution and kitchen facilities as well as a bedroom where children can stay overnight if the South African Police Services and the Department of Social Development deem it is not safe for the child to return home immediately and when places of safety are closed.

We are, and always have been, dependent on donations and are grateful to our many faithful donors. Without their gifts of money and time we would cease to exist.

MANAGEMENT OF THE CENTRE:

A Committee, currently made up of 8 members, runs the Centre. At present the Committee is as follows:

• Dr. Carolyn Hancock (Chairperson)
• Mrs. Wendy Francis (Deputy Chairperson)
• Mrs. Susan Clark (Treasurer)
• Mrs. Terressia Mhkize
• Mr. Desmond Sohkela
• Mrs. Annette Naiker
• Mrs. Sonja Purdon
• Mrs. Jo James

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE CENTRE:

<>Our primary objective is to provide for the holistic and optimal growth of children from indigent homes in the Umngeni Municipality. We strive to accomplish this through providing not only for the basic needs of the children we serve, but through access to health care and other human services as well as by providing excellent educational services.

We feel that this is crucial as local statistics indicate that:
1. 30% of the population in the Municipality are under 14 years of age.
2. 60% of children live in households with an income of less than R600 a month.
3. 30% of children under 3 are malnourished and their subsequent growth and development is stunted.
4. KwaZulu-Natal has more orphans than any other province with 27% of children having lost one or both of the parents. Women head 50% of households.
5. Vulnerable children affected by poverty, malnutrition and disease are less likely to succeed at school and more likely to enter early sexual and abusive relationships and turn to alcohol and drugs.
6. Poverty, malnutrition, HIV, AIDS, TB and childhood diseases are key influences on the extremely high mortality rate of children under the age of 5.
7. The lack of access to adequate water, sanitation and poor hygiene in the home contribute to infections and disease in young children.
8. Young children in South Africa grow up in a profoundly unequal society in which poverty threatens their development. Their exposure to crime and violence is significant.