Build-up to celebrations

OWN CORRESPONDENT

One of the province’s oldest child care facilities is looking to reconnect with its past students and alumni, in the build-up to their 150th birthday celebrations in two years’ time.

“We have assisted thousands of people over the years since we first opened our doors. As part of our 150th anniversary and honouring the past, we would like to build an archive of memories, photos and stories collected from everyone who has been part of our organisation,” said Leliebloem’s marketing co-ordinator, Carla Stewart.

Leliebloem House was founded as a House of Mercy for women in need, back in1868. Year after year their services changed as the needs of the Cape Flats community changed. Since 1967, it is a registered NPO.

They were initially housed at a site in Plein Street in the Cape Town CBD and later at premises where the Nelson Mandela Boulevard Garden Court Hotel is now standing.

“We were compelled to relocate when the old building became dilapidated and too expensive to renovate and ultimately demolished. The Group Areas Act also meant that forced removals from District Six were imminent; the Anglican Church was asked to look at building a church and facility to house us. Our current building in Athlone was completed and occupied in 1972,” said Ms Stewart.

Other anniversary plans for the home include a “homecoming dinner” for current and past residents later this year, as well as a number of fundraising and awareness events.

Children are placed at Leliebloem after the intervention of the courts, in cases of domestic or other societal problems. The home’s work focuses on the Athlone, Wynberg, Mitchell’s Plain, Paarl, Strand, Worcester and Overberg magisterial districts.

“We receive a government subsidy that only covers about a third of our budget needs. Our core service is the residential care programme we offer, but we have embarked on offering prevention and early intervention programmes over the past ten years for young adolescents and their parents in and around the Athlone area,” said Ms Stewart.

Leliebloem currently houses 84 children between the ages of four and 18. Their 61 staff members render services to a total of 737 children between the ages of four and 19; this includes the centre’s Isibindi Programme in Grabouw which provides visits to orphans and vulnerable children by child and youth care workers.