Humanities staff members visit Marsh Memorial Home in celebration of Mandela Day.
Located in Rondebosch, Marsh Memorial Home is a place of safety for children who are deemed to be at risk by the Courts. The children, who range in age from between 4 and 17 years, are housed in five cottages on the property, each with their own team of dedicated care-workers. The facility can accommodate up to 60 children at a time and although it operates under the auspices of the Methodist Church and is supported by the Department of Social Development, it relies on donor funding for survival.
Following a successful initiative (making sleeping bags for the homeless) in 2011, faculty staff decided that they wanted to focus on children this year. According to Shireen Webber, Marsh Memorial Home appealed to her because of the type of intervention they provide. 'I have often driven past this building on my way to work and wondered what they do there. When I discovered that they are a place of refuge for children who come from troubled home environments, I was immediately drawn to the place. It wasn't hard to convince my colleagues that this is how we needed to spend our 67 minutes this year."
The Home with its central sports field is an idyllic sanctuary for children
After initial contact with the Home to establish their needs, a staff appeal was launched. The result was a significant cash donation as well as an impressive collection of second-hand goods which included: clothes, a stereo system, Television and DVD player as well as boxes of books. The Faculty's IT department also pitched in with a refurbished PC. Money raised was used to purchase items of clothing and stationery for each of the 42 children currently housed at Marsh Memorial Home. 'We decided quite early on that we didn't just want to be involved in the collection and collation of goods, we wanted to actually visit the institution and experience what they do for ourselves" says Paula de Castro.
On arrival at the Home, the group were welcomed by Principal Steven Moolman who outlined the history of the institution, its aims and ongoing challenges. This was followed by a tour of the facilities led by senior care worker, Venetia da Silva. Venetia explained the importance of the holistic intervention approach they utilise - one which aims to address all aspects of the child's life whilst keeping them connected, where possible to their own communities.
In a letter following the visit, Principal, Steven Moolman commented that the visit had meant a great deal to both the children and staff members. "It happens quite often that groups of people reach out to our children on any given day. However, the fact that you did it on Nelson Mandela Day will make the experience last so much longer. Your visit suddenly became part of a bigger experience of generosity and goodwill. Indeed, our children have renewed hope in what's to come because of people like you" he said.
The Faculty plans to retain strong ties with the Home and several staff members have committed to volunteering at this institution on an ad hoc basis. For more information on Marsh Memorial Home, contact Lira Greeff on 021 689 9301 or visit:
Marsh Memorial Home website
Faculty of Humanities
University of Cape Town
Private Bag X3