Gert J Jonker
  Email : gertjonker@childincrisis.org.za
Address:
  PO Box 6,
  Paardekraal, 1752,
South Africa
 
Overview :
  The Bethany House Trust initiates, implements, co-ordinates and manages projects critical to the children and youth of South Africa. The Trust has national and provincial programmes.



The Trust - established in 1998 in response to the critical need of young people for shelter, access to primary health services and education - is also registered as a non-profit organization (NPO) with the South African Department of Social Development and as a public benefit organization (PBO) enjoys section 18A Tax Exempt Status.



A Board of Trustees approves strategic direction and policy, whilst a management team is responsible for the execution of strategy, policy and the daily affairs of the Trust.



The Trust focuses on three areas of service delivery to children and youth, viz.:



 Welfare & Health

 Education

 Youth & Sport Development



Mission statement: “To develop and implement initiatives that will portray the Bethany House Trust as the leading non governmental organization in developmental issues affecting children and youth, and in so doing contribute to nation building.”



Our approach is based on:



 Aligning the Trust’s initiatives with critical regional issues impacting upon young people’s lives;

 Adopting a facilitative and catalytic role in establishing projects to serve as models for replication;

 Establishment of delivery structures;

 Encouragement of strategic partnerships with stakeholders through the building of relationships;

 Achieving self-sustainability for all projects.



A brief summary of some of our projects follows:



o Bethany House Children’s Home: This home – operational since October 1999 - accommodates children whose ages range from 4 years up to 14 years. The aim of Bethany House is to break the cycle of abuse in the child’s life and facilitate healing and re-integration into the community as a productive member of society. Following a holistic approach, the physical, educational, emotional and spiritual needs of child victims are met. To date more that 400 children were served through this project, which serves the entire Gauteng province. Children from North West, Free State and Limpopo are also housed.



o Bethany House Baby Sanctuary: Our baby sanctuary was opened in March 2002 and has place for 20 babies whose ages range from newborn to 3 years. Most of the babies were abandoned after birth. An early childhood development program is run whereby a trained teacher runs a nursery school (called Bethany Bugs) for our toddlers.



o Bana Ba Thabong (Happy Children) in Orange Farm: Launched in September 2002, this joint initiative between Bethany House and the Good News Outreach operates 3 “places of safety” homes in informal settlements in the vast wasteland south of Johannesburg. Orange Farm remains one of the least resourced communities in the Gauteng province. This project will soon be extended to include approx. 200 orphaned and vulnerable children in Lesotho.



o Crisis Line - Operates throughout South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana as a telephonic child abuse advice and referral service. It is widely used by parents and caregivers alike who are in need of advice on the child abuse management system. The cell phone emergency service providers regularly patch crisis calls through to us – ranging from family violence to child abductions. We recently assisted the SAPS and Interpol to apprehend an international fugitive wanted by the FBI, in the Eastern Cape.



o Professional Parenting Program - “Khulisani Abantwana Bethu” (Raise our children!): This is an empowerment tool (training course) that we developed for parents willing to look after children in need of a safe home (foster care / adoption). The program is accredited by UNISA. To date almost 200 parents and 70 social workers (master trainers) were equipped with this program. The only way to house the millions of “aids orphans” in Africa will be through homes such as these.



o Intermediary Services for Child Witnesses: To minimize trauma to child victims of crime who have to testify in court, we provide trained intermediaries (social workers) to accompany and act as mediator between the child and the court. We





provide services to Magistrates Courts on the West Rand in this 3-year pilot project and have acted on behalf of more than 2 000 child witnesses during the last 36 months. Research findings from this project were presented at the International Child & Youth Care Conference in Canada.



o IKHUSASA: A team of community workers – youth – facilitate enrichment programs in 8 disadvantaged schools in Muldersdrift, west of Johannesburg. Every month approx. 4 500 learners are reached through life skills, sport development and homework centres. Many of these learners come from very poor households, are orphaned or suffer some form of abuse. The aim of the Ikhusasa program is to give these youth hope for tomorrow.



Former president Nelson Mandela expressed his gratification about our approach on reviewing our project in 1997.



After a presentation to the “Office on the Rights of the Child” in the Presidency during September 2000, the following comments were received from the Presidency: Republic of South Africa:



 The initiative was described as an important way in which the goodwill of citizens should be reconnected towards children;

 The vision of the organization was recognized; and

 And we were commended for our efforts to promote a caring society that will not only restore dignity to but also protect and respect the rights of children.



In addition to above projects, I serve as the Vice-Chair: Gauteng Welfare, Social Services & Development Forum where the interests of hundreds of social welfare organizations are represented in sectoral matters such as funding, parity and equity. I also serve as the Chair: West Rand Welfare, Social Services & Development Forum and serve on both the MANCO and EXCO of the National Welfare, Social Services & Development Forum where more than 2 000 NGO’s are represented.