working at Bethany Home
A great thank you to everyone that came to the spaghetti feed to support Bethany Home. I cannot even begin to tell all of you how much it means to me to have love and support while i am here in South Africa. I am so excited to start my project of re-modeling the Pre-School and there is no way I could do it without all of your support that you showed by coming and participating in the spaghetti feed. The children and staff here at Bethany are so excited to see new things coming in for Bethany and to see it taking a turn for the better!!! It is an unbelieveable feeling to be helping out with something like this and it is all thanks to my home town that this is being made possible, I cannot tell you enough how much I and everyone here appreciate it!! You all did something so wonderful in these little children’s lives, so Thank you.
Here is a little bit of history about Bethany Home and what I am doing over here. Bethany Home was started in 1991 by the Ursuline Sister in Mthatha as a place for sick mothers and their new born babies to stay and be taken care of. The head of this project was Sister Mary Paule Tacke. Sister had moved to South Africa in 1952 and taught as a teacher in a special needs school in Mthatha until she started Bethany Home. Then in 1995 the police started bring abused and neglected children of all ages to the sisters wanting them to take care of them as well and of course the sisters could not say "no". Bethany Home then started to grow very rapidly and so they moved in 1999 to Ikhwezi Lokusa to a bigger building so they could take care of even more children. So now what started out as a four room building housing mothers and there sick babies has now grown in to a safe haven for around 90 children from the ages 0-6. The children are taken to Bethany Home by the police or their social worker and stay here at Bethany until they are placed with someone in their family, if not then the government decides if the child will stay in the Home permanently until they are adopted or when they are to old for this orphanage they go on to the next one. As for sister Mary Paule she "retired" in 2007 but still comes to Bethany Home often and is on the board committee, she also helps run several other organizations in Mthatha, one being Themeblihie. Themeblihie is also a Children’s home but for older children from about 7-18.
What I do at Bethany: Everyday at Bethany is a different one and some what of an adventure. Depending on the day I either wake up at 5, 7 or 8 and go to work. The children are in groups based on age. The nursery is babies from 0-9 months and they are constantly fed and changed so if I am not doing something else I am feeding babies, the cutest thing on earth to do. The day room as we call it is children from ages 9-18 months and this is the busiest place to be so I am working with these children the most. They get fed 5 times a day and they are always pooping and peeing so they need changed all the time. Also children at this age are starting to get active so we play with them alot, help them learn to walk and feed themselves. This is probably the most fulfilling part of the job, is in this room. However, this is also the age that children are most vulnerable to sicknesses so we are always bring someone to the hospital and that can be a hard thing to watch them go through. The next is called the Downstairs and these are the children from ages 18 months- 2 years. These are the children that leave the dayroom and become toilet trained and simple things like dressing themselves and feeding themselves. This is a very lively group so they take a lot of attention and playing with but, not quite as lively as the Classroom which is the next age group from 2 years to -4 years and they are learning basic things like coloring but mostly playing outside running around and trying to take all the attention from everyone else in the orphanage. The next is Pre-School which is 4-6 years old and they are learning coloring, writing, simple songs, colors, shapes, etc. Also a very lively group and takes a lot of attention and play time. All the children get fed 5 times a day, 3 meals and 2 tea times. We do not have to cook but we do give them teatime and do a lot of running around with the children, trips to town, hospital, cleaning, bathing, etc.
All in all Bethany is a great place for these children compared to where they were before they came here. They get to eat and have somewhat of a normal life. The most important part about volunteering at Bethany Home is just giving the children love and attention because that is what they need the most and without that most of them would not survive. It is hard work and it can be confusing seeing as how the children cannot understand what you are saying but, it is totally worth everything you put into it because you know you are helping them, and you know that all they want is someone to love them.
Thank you all so much for everything!!!