After waiting impatiently for three days to see their newly renovated home , children from one of the largest and oldest safe havens in Cape Town couldn’t help but break out in shouts of joy as the grand unveiling took place.
Leliebloem Child and Youth Care Centre, a non-profit organization which provides residential care to 84 children from troubled family backgrounds, was given a whole new look as more than a thousand volunteers, along with corporate sponsors and professional contractors, joined forces to give an extreme makeover to the premises, which were badly in need of renovation. Improvements included repairing light fittings and switches, fixing bedroom and kitchen cupboards, replacing broken windows, painting interior and exterior walls and a lot more.
This renovation was an initiative of Newkidz, another non-profit organization whose major focus is the plight of orphans in South Africa. It was undertaken in association with Cape Town’s Heart 104.9fm radio station, which has been involved with Newkidz in the past, rallying sponsors, contractors and volunteers to help turn children’s shelters into homes.
So far, 29 organisations have been given an extreme makeover through the Newkidz project, which started out in 2007 when a make-over was accomplished in just one weekend at the Masigcine Children's Home in Cape Town.
According to Newkidz’s general manager Hilda de Beer, 30 companies were involved in the Leliebloem makeover. Several teams from different organisations, including Heart 104.9FM, Woolworths, Good Hope Foundation, My School and the Old Mutual Legends programme were part of the renovation. She says that the turnout and number of volunteers was beyond what they expected, adding that the Leliebloem makeover was by far the biggest project they have ever been involved in. “We were blown away by the response!” she adds.
Leliebloem’s marketer and fundraiser Liza Rossouw says it took 13 months of hard work and planning for the project to be a success. “We are so grateful to all the individuals, companies and of course to Heart 104.9FM and Newkidz for all their amazing efforts to make Leliebloem feel like a true home to the kids who stay here,” she says.
She added that while the renovation has made a huge difference, significant challenges still remain for the organisation and many of the kids it supports.
“Our children are battling to read; we have a few volunteers coming once in a while to help improve the situation, but it would be great if more people would volunteer to help the children learn to read more confidently,” explains Rossouw.
A recent nationwide literacy and numeracy assessment in primary schools in South Africa revealed an alarming truth - the majority of Grade 3 and Grade 6 students in the country cannot read and count at an acceptable level. In Gauteng, almost 70% of the province’s Grade 3 pupils were found to be illiterate.
Financial sustainability is also a concern - Leliebloem needs R2 million to cover the year’s running costs until March 2013.
To learn more or offer support, visit www.leliebloem.org.za
By Abram Molelemane