Volunteer Run Programme Spotlight: Soccer Club
Florian Prauss assisted the Bitou Family Care as a volunteer in Kurland Village from August 2011 till July 2012. He started a soccer team for teenagers to give them something constructive to be a part of instead of being on the streets. It took some hard work at first as there where new players on the field every day, but after 4 months there was a team with players coming to practice regularly.
When he left South Africa there was no coach and felt he would have liked to see it continue. As part of his studies, he had to go abroad for 3 months to do social work. There was no other option for him but to come back and get everyone playing soccer again.
Florian says “I try to teach the team some life skills, every day a little bit, because if you want to change people you must change the heart from them first. And the best thing to change people is with sport. Because sport has the power to change the world.”
Ever heard the adage: "It takes a village to raise a child"?
Well it's the truth. And when children are raised in a home apart from their family, it takes more than just a day mother to input into each one's life. That is where the community at large plays a role and usually comes in the form of volunteers, mentors, teachers and more.
We are so grateful for every single person and every moment they invest into the children's lives. As it is time invested and not spent. Much research corroborates that one positive influence in a child's life raises their chances of happiness and success later in life immeasurably.
The picture on the right is of one of our children, Isaac, spending time at Hope House. Being surrounded by girls in the home he enjoys the quality "Guy time" with Christopher MacKenzie. Christopher is a polo player and felt that Isaac would benefit from learning a skill and the therapeutic effect that animals have on children. Isaac has been attending lessons for a few months and can already canter on his own and continues to improve.
Some of the girls also wanted to learn a skill and make some pocket money. Christopher has a project which involves making simple material shoes and invited the girls to come learn. Later in the year they might even learn more entrepreneurial skills that are needed to make such a project a successful business.
We appreciate you Chris and would like to encourage anyone and everyone to get involved as you can. You don't need specific skills, children need attention. Another well known adage that is true is: "Children spell love - T. I. M. E." Your time could be what makes the life changing experience in a child’s life.
Staff Spotlight - Foster Mother Mirriam:
Mirriam started working with the organisation as a House Mother in 2006. She realised that this was more than work, it was a calling. In 2012 she became a Foster Mother, where she cares for 6 children in a home environment.
Working with the children inspires Mirriam and she finds her fulfilment in seeing them growing in confidence, spiritually and in their eagerness to learn.
16 December 2014 was the perfect sunny day was the backdrop for what turned into a wonderful Bitou Family Care Fun Day. The senses were delighted with bright coloured balloons floating in the perfect blue sky, cool ice tea to quench your thirst and the best homemade biscuits to tempt the taste buds.
The face-painting and jumping castle were naturally hits and our bear and monkey mascots stole the show with their friendly antics. The day culminated in the Mayor being driven in a Horse & Carriage through the Main Street for his Day of Reconciliation address and street lighting ceremony.
We want to thank everyone who joined in the festivities and supported us. We would also like to Bettina and Michiel from T'Niqua Stable Inn for their great support, Remax for the Jumping Castle and everyone who helped contribute to the day's success.
Volunteer Spotlight: Current Full-Time Volunteers
Samuel and Joschua are the current full-time volunteers from Germany. These two young men are dedicating a year of their life to impacting these children.
Samuel wanted to do something impactful in his gap year before continuing his education, while Joschua wasn’t looking for a gap year until his brother told him about his amazing experience working with this organisation.
They both find it very different from what they expected, Plettenberg Bay is by no stretch of the imagination the same as rural Africa, but even though the need is different it is no less important.
One of their favourite functions is assisting in the Homework Centre, as education is so important and so impactful on the children’s lives. Also Samuel says playing with the children affords him much joy, while Joschua told us how seeing the children grow and change is most rewarding.
Spotlight - Operations Management Team Stephan & Elisabeth:
Stephan grew up in a Pastors home and was exposed to missionaries from all over the world, but right from the start Africa always held a fascination. He went to Guinea when he was 10 years old and after speaking to an acquaintance who had ties in Plettenberg Bay, he ended up spending three months after completing his last year of school, volunteering here. After that initial visit he kept returning for summer holidays.
When Stephan and Elisabeth met, they found a kindred spirit in each other. Elisabeth had also always been fascinated with Africa and her Master’s Degree Thesis was about Transformational Development in South Africa. While visiting Plettenberg Bay together in 2004 they got engaged at the Beacon Island Hotel.
In 2009 they were back and started out with the Foster Home project. They quickly saw the need for after school activities for the children and had a desire to reach children who were not in their Foster homes. They started with the weekly programme which included a light meal, sport, games, action-filled competition games, life skills, stories and so much more. Thereafter Women United started to assist and develop between 40 - 100 women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
Stephan loves interacting with the children using experiential education and sport. He feels just being present, engaged and involved is more important than any one particular aspect of what they do. Elisabeth found she fell in love with the children and felt they need a new perspective of themselves and their futures. Even if it is not ideal, as long as it is better. They share a love of encouraging and growing every individual child.