It goes without saying that we want every child at The Kusasa Project to reach his or her full potential. This relies on the commitment of all our staff and the effectiveness of our programmes. But also, critically, our children need a safe, stable and nurturing environment to thrive and prosper – both at school and at home. That is why our partnership with and commitment from the parents of each child is so essential: family support is key.
There are often challenges in this regard! The socio-economic history and complexities of South Africa means that it is not uncommon for children at The Kusasa Project to be raised by their grandparents or other extended family members. In many cases, either or both of a child’s parents are absent and/or struggling with very difficult circumstances themselves. Therefore, we contract a registered Social Worker – Leigh Reabow – who works with our children and their families to identify needs and problems and to help grow healthy and supportive relationships.
Leigh shares one recent success story:
At the start of 2021 we reached out to one of our children’s parents in order to offer our support to a very troubled family. I was able, on the off chance, to get ‘Dad’ into my office. This was the first time I had met him. It was on that day, as he shared his story of drug addiction since the age of 14, that I saw true desperation in his eyes. For the past ten years, Marijuana, Tik and Mandrax had become part of his daily life, putting an unbearable strain on his relationship with his children and family. It was then that I gave him my commitment to help him.
In order to help, we knew we had to take ‘Dad’ out of his environment. But places at subsidised rehabilitation centres in our area are hard to find. After many applications, I finally received an acceptance letter from Namaqua Rehabilitation – about four hours drive from Franschhoek. It had been some months since our initial conversation, and I feared that he would no longer want to go.
To my joy and surprise, ‘Dad’ was over the moon, and we started counting down the days. Leaving family and friends and embarking on this journey was extremely difficult for ‘Dad’. When we arrived, he had tears mixed with apprehension.
At the end of seven weeks, I personally fetched ‘Dad’ from Namaqua Rehabilitation. He told me that in order to overcome his addiction, he focused on the well-being of his children. The difference in his eyes was most noticeable – they were clear and present. Six weeks after ‘Dad’ returned home, he came to visit me. And I was very pleased to see that the result of a random drug test was negative.
Today, ‘Dad’ looks and feels great. In the day, he is working as a painter and helping out a mechanic. At night, he is involved in the lives of his children and most importantly, he is committed to helping his mother take care of his children. He bathes them every evening and listens to their stories. Recently he spent three days at The Kusasa Project, helping us with cleaning and heavy lifting!
That negative drug test is just a drop in the ocean. The journey for ‘Dad’ has only just begun, he will have to continue with his hard work and commitment. For that we send him a lot of strength!