St Francis needs support

Chairperson of the St Francis Child and Youth Care Centre, Muhammad Kaazim Vickerman.

The St Francis Child and Youth Care Centre in Athlone is appealing to the community to support its upcoming fun day, the proceeds of which will be used to keep the centre running.

According to chairperson Muhammad Kaazim Vickerman, the centre was established in 1919 after many children became orphans as a result of the flu epidemic of 1918. The centre is home to 45 children ranging in age from three to 12, and from different social backgrounds, who have been placed there through an order of the Children’s Court.

Mr Vickerman said the children remain at the centre for two years during which they are offered stability and a caring and loving environment before going back to their parents who have been rehabilitated – or to their grandparents or other family members.

“We constantly maintain contact with the families of the children because they eventually have to go back into a safe environment. There is a continuous rehabilitation programme where we work with the child and the family in order to get the child back into the community again.”

He said that a third of the children are diabetics which means they need extra care and resources to stay healthy.

Although the centre is subsidised by the Western Cape Department of Social Development, they are still in dire need of funding to run their daily operations which amount to R50 000 a month.

They are also in need of beds, cupboards, tables and chairs, clothing, food, and toys, among other things.

“The community has always supported us and we are very grateful. We also want to appeal to religious organisations to come on board,” he said.

Mr Vickerman said the public is urged to come and spend time with the children and read to them to or play with them, rather than just making a donation, so that the centre can build relationships within the community.

“We want the community to become more involved with the kids. Come on a weekend and play games with them and entertain them.

“We are trying to make this an inclusive environment where we make a difference by bringing the community on board and making this a community project. We believe in community investment,” said Mr Vickerman.

The fun day will be held at the centre, in Thornton Road, Athlone, on Saturday December 2 and Sunday December 3, from 11am to 4pm. Food vouchers will be available at the door.

Entry is R10 an adult and R5 a child. There will be entertainment, stalls, food stalls and more. For more information contact David Mcnamara on 082 820 9842 or call the centre on 065 869 5785.