A new school year – a new start
For children whose lives have been turned upside down by abuse, neglect or abandonment, school can play a huge role in providing stability and continuity. More than that, it provides a space to be a child among other children, a 'normal' experience in the middle of events that have made the child feel 'different'.
The start of the new school year (in January) is therefore a time of great excitement! There are new clothes (school uniform) and a new start, and lots of new possibilities to make a new start.
And meanwhile - the little ones stay at home with their carers and say good bye to their bigger brothers and sisters
In recent weeks South Africa has hit the worldwide headlines as the rape and mutilation of 17 year old Anene Booysen hit the international press.
South Africa faces a huge challenge in terms of gender based violence, and has become known as one of the countries with the highest rates of rape of any country not at war.
One of the ways to combat abuse of women and children is to challenge rape supportive attitudes and to teach children from a young age about how to protect themselves.
Jerry Giraffe is one such programme, which in a fun way teaches the children that they are special, that all people must respect their private parts. They learn that there is good touch and bad touch, and identify who they would tell if they felt uncomfortable.
Fikelela recently trained Sunday School teachers from eight churches to run the Jerry Giraffe programme with their children.
Christmas is am unusual time at Fikelela's Children's Centre - it is quiet!
But for the best of all reasons - all the children are enjoying a family Christmas.
December is often the time that school-aged children finally go to live with extended family or foster families, as it is the end of the school year. This year we found 26 children 'forever families' - and took in 26 more! There is a shortage of places for children who have been abandoned or abused, so we are always full.
For the children who can't go to a 'forever family' there is still a family Christmas. Sometimes extended family are able to have their grandchild, neice or nephew for a visit, but are not able to give them a home full-time. Those with no extended family go to stay with staff members and join in with their family celebrations.
Then, just before school starts again in January, the noise levels rise again!