The Friends of Child Protection (FCP) got together at the Presbyterian Church in Gardens last Thursday, July 20, to put together 1 300 comfort packs for children who have been sexually abused.
These comfort packs will be distributed to SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Oﬀences (FCS) units that are linked to police stations in the Western Cape as well as Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC), attached to state-owned hospitals like the Karl Bremer Hospital, where victims of rape are safely housed.
Antonia Zechner, the chairperson of FCP, says the Silo hotel and Astron Energy assisted them with volunteers and supplies for the comfort packs, which include a soft toy, underwear or nappies, soap, a toothbrush and snack packs.
“We had about 100 volunteers and the Silo hotel gave extra funding for a safehouse for women that was recently opened in Franschhoek. We packed 20 extra snack packs for Karl Bremer and another 40 for safeline, another safehouse, as they are going on a camp so we decided to donate to them as well,” said Ms Zechner.
According to Dr Genine Josias, the medical co-ordinator at the Karl Bremer TCC in Bellville, FCP also contributed clothing, which is essential to the victims’ well-being.
“The clothes allows a victim/survivor to get dressed after a warm shower and leave our centres in a dignified manner, there is no evidence of bloody or dirty or torn clothes. The snacks in the comfort packs are essential because most victims/survivors are in shock and unable to eat after the terrible incident,” said Dr Josias.
She says that victims’ siblings usually do not understand why they do not receive comfort packs and that extra packs are greatly appreciated.
“Children do not always understand why they do not receive a comfort pack (even though they are not the victim), so to destigmatise the comfort packs, we always have extra teddy bears and snacks for the siblings. In these tough economic times, most victims/survivors are grateful for the comfort pack because it provides basic essentials that many cannot always afford. Sometimes we even give the parent or sibling or family member an extra comfort pack for themselves,” she said.
Jill Koopman, the manager of corporate affairs at Astron Energy, says that supporting FCP is an activity they are committed to each year as an organisation.
“Many of our employees return year after year to support FCP because the meaningful impact this has on among the most vulnerable in our society, and to support those who give so much of themselves in this cause,” said Ms Koopman.
“It is deeply saddening that such an intervention is needed at all in our society and we must all commit to supporting the protection, care and welfare of our children. As former President Mandela himself said: ‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’”
The TCC’s are all open 24 hours a day and can be reached at the following phone numbers: Karl Bremer TCC at 021 918 1321, Victoria Hospital (Wynberg TCC) 021 799 1235, Khayelitsha TCC at 021 360 4570, Heideveld Hospital TCC on 021 699 3246, and Paarl Hospital TCC on 021 860 2500.