03.07.17 | News, Project of the Month

A Home for Children with Disabilities

In July, the Project of the Month comes from South Africa
EYVP volunteer Paul takes care of a child at Elim Home in South Africa.

Each year, two volunteers of EMS support Elim Home. (Photo: EMS/Lohnes)

"Our biggest challenge are not the children," says Lesinda Cunningham, manager of Elim Home. "Our problem are the children who came here 20 years ago when we started this project. Most of them still live here because their parents do not want them back."

More than 50 children and young adults found a home in Elim Home in the Western Cape of South Africa. They all suffer from different disabilities. Some depend on a wheelchair others have severe mental handicaps. Separated into five groups the employees take care of the needs of their fosterlings. They foster the children according to their degree of disability with physiotherapy, ergotherapy but also with excursions and games.

The South African society has still difficulties dealing with children with disabilities. In summer, the children leave Elim Home to stay for a few days at home with their families. But some stay in school because their parents do not want to see them. There are also few governmental institutions which are comparable with the professional full-day care and support of Elim Home.

To reach more children with disabilities the team of Elim Home opened up two day centers in Bredasdorp and Gansbaai in 2013. The children stay for four to five hours a day in those daycares about 40 kilometers away from Elim. Therapists and employed parents look after them. In that way, the children receive a holistic care but can stay in their familiar and social environment.

Each year EMS sends two volunteers to Elim Home in South Africa. For 12 months the volunteers support the team led by manager Lesinda Cunningham. They learn how to work with children with disabilities and grow with their responsibilities.

Elisa Heiligers

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