The children’s keepers

NGO Community Keepers recently launched a new counselling facility at PC Petersen Primary School in Kylemore. Pictured opening the new facility, are former Springbok rugby captain, Jean de Villiers; Community Keepers board member, Ernst Hertzog; school principal, Shuaib September; and Cape Wine Auction Trust facilitator, Andi Norton.

Children need to be taught how to make the emotional baggage they carry lighter, and how to handle it better, according to PC Petersen Primary School principal Shuaib September.

Mr September was speaking at the launch of the Community Keepers counselling facility at his school in Kylemore recently, and he thanked the Stellenbosch-based NGO for making the much needed services of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers available to students. “At the end of the day, it is about the children,” he said.

Community Keepers board member Ernst Hertzog, thanked Mr September for agreeing to host the facility at his school. “This is
the fifteenth facility we have opened since starting at Luckhoff Primary School in 2009, and by the end of the week, we will have 17 facilities.

“We’ve worked hard to raise funds, but we cannot get access to a school without the support of school leadership,” Mr Hertzog said.

“It is with your support, and the funding of the Cape Wine Education Trust, that we are able to render much needed services to your students.”

Keynote speaker Jean de Villiers recounted his experiences from childhood in pursuit of his career as a rugby Springbok and captain of the national side, noting that he had access to opportunities and support throughout his career, that had made it so much easier to achieve what he has done over the years.

“Most of these children,” he said, gesturing towards the group of school children playing in the school grounds outside, “have not had access to the opportunities that I have.’

“Life isn’t easy, it never is, but access to support and opportunity helps to make life easier,” said Mr De Villiers.

“It was the support I had that enabled me to get through when faced with substantial challenges like injury and so forth.”

“Community Keepers offers much needed support to children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the kind of support the can help them to succeed in life.”

Community Keepers focuses on fostering the social and emotional well-being of students, so that learning and development can happen.

Counselling is available to students, school staff and parents or guardians.

The facility was formally opened in a joint ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It comprises a reception and relaxation area, and two counselling rooms, and it is staffed by professionals funded by Community Keepers, through its various funding partners.

Mr De Villiers, who is head of philanthropy at Citadel Wealth Management, spoke to Bolander after the formal proceedings.

He encouraged privileged South Africans to contribute financially to charitable institutions. “I’d like to encourage people to make charitable giving a part of their wealth planning,” he said.

“The only way that we are going to close the social gaps, is for us all to do something about it. Giving somebody R5 at a street corner won’t have an impact.

“It needs to be a thoughtful, sustainable process. And I’m not talking about giving 50%, like some people are able to do. Just 1%, given thoughtfully and long term to ensure sustainability, will make a massive difference in our country.”

Andi Norton, Cape Wine Auction Trust facilitator also spoke to Bolander about its decision to include Community Keepers in its giving model.

“We know that psycho-
social trauma is a major detractor to a quality education. Children need to be in a good mental space to absorb what is going on in the classroom,” she said.

“When looking for a partner in this area, we could see that Community Keepers had already made a real difference in the schools where it had opened facilities. We also love the fact that they are permanently in the school, it is not a roving service. A consistent group of people, who are always there, helps to build the trust needed by children and teachers in order for them to make use of the service.”