“We feel that the term orphanage is outdated and has a stigma attached. What we do here is give girls – who don’t have parents – a home. Not just housing, but also therapeutic and developmental support,” says Graeme Cairns, manager at St George’s Home for Girls.
With only 32 child care centres in the Western Cape, St George’s is filling a much-needed gap in the social space for up to 40 girls. The girls, between the ages of 3 and 18, have been placed here by the South African Children’s Court.
What support does the children’s home offer?
Graeme Cairns explains, “Girls who are placed here often experience neglect, abandonment, abuse and trauma in their families or communities – and this needs to be addressed. Often, it’s impossible to send the child back to their community or family as the conditions there have not improved or the perpetrator might still live there.”
While the goal is to reunite the kids with their extended families, it’s often not possible. The girls have to learn from a young age to be independent in preparation for when they have to leave the home. St George’s teaches them important skills through a “Transition to Independence” and “Mentorship” program.
The transition program helps them to learn to very basics skills needed to live independently after school and having to leave St George’s. Some of the skills we teach them are: how to find a job, save money, write a CV, etc. In the mentorship program, each girl is partnered with a mentor who meets with them once a week and helps them plan their future.
Graeme and his team are warm and friendly. And I can see why St George’s Home for Girls has just celebrated its 155th birthday. It feels like a safe space, just with a few more kids and mums than any other home.
Contact us if you’d like to find out more about how you can give back on your African holiday.