Your donation does not just make lives better…
It puts a child on the path of re-integration into society and a good future.
How does it all play out?
NOTE: While these stories of the young people that were helped are true, all the names have been changed in order to protect their identity.
Bright Lights is registered as a Drop-in Centre as well as a Child and Youth Care Centre for high risk and street children. Their objective is to reunify children with their family or significant others, and reintegrate the children back into society in the Helderberg basin.
StreetSmart Helderberg provided Bright Lights with a R60,000 disbursement towards a social worker salary and related transport costs.
Feedback from Bright Lights:
25 children (ages 9 to 17 years) benefitted from the services at Bright Lights. Ten children were successfully re-unified with their parents or significant others and we are expecting another 4 children to be moved back to their families before the end of December 2018.We received a child that ran away from home due to the lack of a relationship with his step-mother who was abusing alcohol. Initially he presented with various behavioural challenges. It was found that he had a passion for playing soccer and this, therefore, was used as a method of communicating (as a metaphor) with him. During an outreach session with the local soccer club, the head coach identified him as showing raw talent and subsequently started involving him in training sessions. Soon he started playing at an amateur level for the club’s first team – it is worth mentioning that he is 17 years old and his team mates 25+. After various family sessions his relationship with his father and stepmother has significantly improved. He has, however, moved in with another family to allow him to continue with his soccer (where the father stays, unfortunately, are no soccer clubs or work opportunities). We have received the news that he won an award at the soccer club for Player of the Year.
Cheslyn never knew his biological father. He was raised by his mother, who as most single parents, struggled to balance working to earn money and taking good care of her children.
As the youngest child, Cheslyn could not wait to go to school. He was progressing well in the Grade R class. Then tragedy struck. His mother passed away unexpectedly after a sudden illness. As a five year old, Cheslyn was not allowed to visit the hospital nor attend his mother’s funeral. The day after the funeral, the family was split up and siblings informally cared for by various family members. As the youngest, Cheslyn went to live with his maternal grandmother.
Some 6 years later, at age eleven in Grade 4, Cheslyn had transformed into a defiant and angry boy. Teachers laid repeated complaints of challenging behaviour, as he fought with all his peers and teachers. The constant fighting became self-defeating and he resorted to repeated absconding. He dropped out of school early in 2017.
As a recent drop-out, Cheslyn was referred by the school to Masizame. He is a regular at the Drop-In Centre and attended life-skills programs. Counseling sessions were held with both the child and the extended family, and grief counselling assisted both Cheslyn and his grandmother to have closure over the death of his mother.
Once the teachers understood the history of the child, they have agreed to Cheslyn re-enrolling for school in 2018, and Masizame will continue individual check-in sessions on a bi-weekly basis. This initiative was made possible with the funding grant from StreetSmart South Africa.
Ryan is the eldest boy in foster mother, Rosie’s house. When he turned eighteen, his foster care grant was stopped. He however continued living in the foster home because his younger brother also lives there, and their parents were both deceased. Sadly no other biological family were interested in caring for Ryan. The younger sibling was very stressed, because of the pressure for Ryan to find alternative accommodation. Later in the year Ryan was successfully placed at a youth care centre in Philippi, which caters to young adults transitioning out of care. Ryan successfully undertook a two-week carpentry course recently, attended all lessons and received a certificate.
Reports from the centre have been overwhelmingly positive. They were very impressed at what a well-mannered young man he is, and commended his foster mother for the manner in which she raised him. In another exciting development, there are plans for Ryan to study IT at College, and he will continue to be supported until such time that he is self-sufficient. The foster family has visited Ryan at the centre, and committed to visiting him there once a month.
Lebo’s story: Lebo, aged sixteen, was placed at Kids Haven in November 2016 after having displayed uncontrollable behaviour while living with her aunt. Her parents are both deceased. From 2015, Lebo was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. She was spending most of her time with friends, not sleeping at home, sniffing glue and drinking. She was believed to be involved in Satanism and prostitution and failed Grade 9 in 2015.
Since admission in Nov 2016, Lebo has responded well to the structure of Kids Haven and has been included in counselling and group and individual therapy. Her aunt, who’s also her primary caregiver, visited in March 2017 where she commented on the change in Lebo’s behaviour. Lebo has also been a part of The President’s Awards programme and has volunteered and participated in several leadership activities. In April 2017, she was placed into formal school again and to date has maintained her attendance at school. Kids Haven fully expects that Lebo will continue to make good progress and remain in school.
Siyabonga began attending school for the first time in his life at the age of nine years old. “Bongi” as he’s affectionately known, was placed in foster care with a family in Netreg and enrolled at the local Primary School. Due to Bongi’s age, the principal did not want to place him in Grade R with children much younger than him. As a result, he was placed in the grade 2 class, which was age-appropriate although he was not on the appropriate academic level. To ensure that he got the support he needed, he was selected to attend the StreetSmart Aftercare Programme, to develop his reading and writing skills.
Seven months later, Bongi is able to write and is excelling in Mathematics! We are confident that, with the extra support from the StreetSmart Aftercare Programme, Bongi can catch up to the appropriate academic/cognitive level and make great progress in school, which could provide him with an abundance of opportunities in the future.