Othandweni, which means “Place of Love”, is situated in Mofolo South, Soweto and offers residential care for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. The Centre which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year was established in 1984 and caters for 90 children from the ages of birth to 18 years. The Centre also has limited space available for destitute mothers or pregnant women who are contemplating the futures of their unborn children.
Othandweni acts as a place of safety where children are placed until suitable families have been found, either by our Adoptions or Foster Care Departments. Those children who cannot be immediately placed stay at Othandweni for as long as is necessary. There is a great need for facilities such as Othandweni as incidences of child abandonment, abuse and neglect are increasing. In addition, we are now faced with a growing number of AIDS orphans and HIV+ babies in need of shelter and special care.
All babies are taken for immunisations, weighing and regular check-ups at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto and are individually monitored by means of feeding charts. In addition, students from the Wits Occupational Therapy assist in providing stimulation and support to our babies. Pre-school children attend an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre on the premises.
This serves as a safe environment in which the toddlers are equipped for their future schooling. Regular meetings are held with the Child and Family Unit at JCW head office to monitor the progress in placing babies with adoptive and foster families, or in re-uniting them with their families of origin.
It is our priority to place babies with suitable families as soon as possible so that they do not experience prolonged institutionalisation, which is detrimental to healthy development.
The Cottages offer supervised care in a family setting to 60 school-going children and teenagers. The aim of the cottage system is to minimise the effects of long-term institutionalised living and to create a homelike environment. There are five cottages divided into age groups: the youngest children are 5 years old and the oldest children are 18. These cottages recently underwent a much needed revamp and were each renamed as Houses embracing a number of values core in any child’s development, namely the Houses of Hope, Dignity, Respect, Trust and Honesty. These same values are inculcated and re-modelled to the children on a daily basis.
The nursery provides care for 30 babies and toddlers at any given time, who receive 24-hour supervision by qualified nurses and nursing assistants. Babies who have been found abandoned or neglected are often suffering from a variety of ailments. Where necessary, these babies are nursed back to health while awaiting adoption, foster care or re-unification with their families.