A loving home

Director of Leliebloem House, Francisco Cornelius, pictured in front of the building.

Leliebloem House is celebrating 150 years of providing shelter to destitute children from all over the Western Cape.

The home in Crawford now accommodates 60 children, aged between four and 18, who are placed with them by the Children’s Courts of South Africa.

The children remain there for only two years while the home tries to reunite them with their family.

The sanctuary began its life as The House of Mercy in 1868, helping the harbour’s sex workers who had fallen pregnant. The home was for girls only and served as an extension of the St Georges Home for Boys in Bute Road, Wynberg, which is now St Georges Home for Girls. Children of all faiths were welcomed.

The House of Mercy was located in Woodstock and provided refuge for more than 120 children who attended school in Cape Town.

The home changed its name to Leliebloem House in 1886.

The building was demolished in 1972 due to apartheid’s Group Areas Act and as it had been poorly maintained and apparently became unsafe for the children to live in.

However, the Anglican church had bought the plot in Crawford in 1971 and built a church and the home and they were able to occupy the premises in 1972.

The home’s children attend schools in Athlone, Hanover Park and Khayelitsha.

Director Francisco Cornelius said the children are taken to school in the morning and fetched in the afternoon but this becomes difficult with the limited resources which they have including only one bus and one car.

They have 35 staff members and regularly receive volunteers from an overseas group for three to six months at a time.

Besides the residential therapeutic programme, they also offer an adolescent programme for their children as well as children from the community who are referred by teachers from different schools for their behavioural problems.

“We firstly run assessments to find out why the children are misbehaving. Sometimes they are from child-headed households with no adults, or they are being abused, or don’t even have a meal before coming to school. Sometimes there are children living with a granny and aunty and so they don’t understand the dynamics behind the children’s behaviour and also can’t afford to send the children for counselling,” he said.

The programme includes skills development through workshops and camps and is progressed to the leadership programme which is linked to The President’s Awards programme. Children then become mentors and a few of them come back and run programmes at the home afterwards.

Another programme which they offer is the specialised behaviour management programme where children are referred by social workers and schools. These are children who display bad behaviour which cannot be controlled by the parents or teachers.

Another programme that the home offers is the Isibindi programme in Grabouw, which helps children who have lost their parents due to HIV/Aids.

Mr Cornelius said it is a really beneficial programme which creates jobs as the staff must be trained from the community. They work with the families that they know and visit them daily to make sure the challenges are being addressed.

The programme, which serves 800 children in Grabouw, sees to the child-headed households where the care workers cook for children and help them with their homework. They approach adults around the children’s homes to help them and keep them safe after hours.

The last programme offered is the family reunification programme.

Leliebloem House works with families of the children to overcome social ills and household problems so that their children can return home when they are 18.

Mr Cornelius said that this is difficult because it costs quite a bit of money. “They often don’t have food and refer to drugs and prostitution. We try to rectify this so that the kids can be reunited with parents.”

His advice to anyone who would like to donate to Leliebloem House is that they should come and see what the home is all about.

“We serve the community. Anyone should make themselves available and come and see what we do with these children and help the children not only with their basic needs but tuition, and just playing with the children. That will determine what they want to contribute to our home,” he said.

Call the home on 021 697 4947.