StreetSmart cares

StreetSmart SA founder Margi Biggs hands a cheque for an R80 000 donation to Home from Home director, Pippa Shaper, at Neethlingshof Wine Estate recently.

All it takes is R5 added to your restaurant bill, says StreetSmart SA chairperson Melanie Burke, speaking at Neetlingshof Wine Estate in Stellenbosch recently, when a cheque for R80 000 was handed to Home from Home director, Pippa Shaper.

Home from Home runs five foster homes in Kayamandi and two in Cloetesville, providing vital refuge, support and care for 42 children who have been placed in foster care.

“A foster home is a normal house, in a normal street with a foster mum and dad, who are looking after no more than six children. Those six children may have been abandoned, they may have been orphaned, they may have been abused, and many of them have come from the street,” said Ms Shaper, in her thank-you address.

“Their parents are living on the street, or they come off the street. Mum might be in prostitution, dad might be in addiction, so there are a lot of different backgrounds as to why children might come to us.”

Speaking about the use to which the R80 000 will be put, she said: “Thanks to the StreetSmart money, we’ll be able to offer a real level of therapeutic support to our children. They will be able to access the things that we would put in place for our children. For example, if any of our children need psychological help there will be a therapeutic appointment, or if occupational or speech therapy is needed we now have access to that, for them to have good, long-term possibilities in their lives.

“We will also be able to pay for social workers, and that’s what makes our foster homes really special,” Ms Shaper said.

“And finally, we’ll also be able to fund a really crucial area, which is training for our foster mums and dads, which we believe is essential. They are not doing a job, it is a calling. They are there from the heart, dealing with children who have had a lot of bad things done to them, and they are doing the best they can.”

Home from Home senior social worker, Shireen van Vuuren, underpinned the vital role foster mothers play: “If you listen to a foster mom’s story, sometimes they come from a place of brokenness themselves, and they want to make a difference in the life of a child so, they too have stuff to deal with, and it’s hard to deal with children’s emotional stuff if you have stuff of your own to deal with as well. What the training does, is raise resilience in them to deal with the stuff they are dealing with themselves, and in so doing, helping children to deal with what they have to deal with.”

Speaking after the handover ceremony, Ms Burke told Bolander: “I’m delighted to let you know that in 2016 we have managed to raise R1 000 060, R5 at a time in our participating restaurants, and we are able in 2017 to fund 25 programs to do the work around social development, and the reintegration work for children who may be at risk of being on the street, or have already been on the street. We specifically fund education, skills training and family reunification.”

StreetSmart SA, founded in 2005 by tourism doyenne Margi Biggs under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, partners with 92 restaurants nationally, and in Stellenbosch alone, is represented in six establishments: Rust en Vrede Restaurant, Cold Gold Artisan Ice Cream, Cuvée Restaurant at Simonsig, Bodega at Dornier, Jordan Restaurant, Makaron @ Majeka House, The Big Easy, and The Restaurant at Neethlingshof.

Allan Ware, general manager of The Restaurant at Neethlingshof, who hosted the handover ceremony, had this to say: “As restaurateurs, the StreetSmart SA initiative gives us the opportunity to contribute to the community, by being the conduit between our clients and the organisation itself. Through this initiative we are able to educate our staff, colleagues and clients alike to the ongoing challenges that street children face in their day to day lives, and the opportunity we have to make a small difference.”

Aside from adding R5 – or more if you so choose – to your meal bill, most participating establishments also have a StreetSmart SA donation box for cash donations.

“We make sure that every single cent donated by diners, goes towards social and educational upliftment projects for street children,” said Ms Burke. “Eat at a StreetSmart establishment. It’s the right thing to do. If where you like to eat isn’t part of StreetSmart, then encourage them to sign up.”