Heaven’s Nest ‘a home away from home’

Heavens Nest is tucked away at 16 Edward Road, in Ottery, across the way from Makro.

Heaven’s Nest, a child care and recreation centre in Ottery, is looking for volunteers to tutor vulnerable children in subjects such as maths and languages, one day a week.

House manager Wendy Abrahams said the volunteers would tutor primary school children.

Volunteers must be 18 years of age and older with a Grade 12 qualification. “They must be able to commit to a minimum of six months and be in possession of or apply for a police clearance.”

Ms Abrahams, who has been working at Heaven’s Nest for more than two years, said the NPO started by seven Anglican church women, in 2004.

“Initially the focus was on children who suffer from HIV/Aids. Later it was spread further and children from all different backgrounds, such as abused, abandoned and orphaned children, are taken in at Heaven’s Nest.”

Ms Abrahams said a community member gave the Anglican church women a house and in 2005 they registered as an NPO.

“This house is called a home away from home because it is a temporary safe care home for children between six months and eight years. We have a total of 12 children but take on a maximum of 15.”

Some children are referred to the home by the Department of Social Development if there is a court case pending. “Children stay three months and there could be a waiting period from up to seven months.”

Ms Abrahams said they embarked on a parenting programme last year. “At that workshop we have the opportunity to get to know the parents and the circumstances they live in. We found out that some parents battle because they have no money and that is one reason why children are neglected.”

She said, “everyone has a choice, but not everyone has the skills to make a proper choice.”

The parents interact with their children at the workshops and they even offer them time to eat lunch together, “which some hardly find the time to do,” she said.

Ms Abrahams recalled two successful stories from the workshops where one father and son relationship was “rehabilitated” and an aunt and her niece formed a better relationship with each other. Students from University of South Africa (UNISA) will get involved in their next parenting programme from February to August as part of a project.

She said they have a gardening project which teaches gardening skills and parents how to create their own vegetable gardens. The children also have the opportunity to receive therapy because there is an in-house social worker. “There are some children who come in here emotional and crying while others adjust quickly and go with the flow.”

She said sometimes she goes home with tears in her eyes and other times her spirits are lifted because of what a child may have said that day. “One of the child carers was going to feed a little girl porridge, but the little girl refused to eat. She said she was thinking of her mother who doesn’t have porridge. So the carer had to feed one spoon for her and say that the next spoon of porridge was for her mother. And she was happy with that.”

If anyone wants to volunteer to tutor the pupils, they can call 021 703 9781 or email heavensnest@telkomsa.net