KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE

Danie van Loggerenberg from Toys for Africa shared his passion for the safety of children with us:

We have various Child Protection Weeks across the country coming up.

In summary, we visit schools with the local SAPS and children are told how to be safe inside and outside of the school. Anti-bullying is a widely discussed topic, along with not walking home alone, taking sweets from strangers, inappropriate touching, etc. For the high school, we shift focus to cyber-bullying and drugs, while also having more intense discussions around inappropriate touching.

From personal experience of parental alienation, we touch on this subject too.

We meet roughly 60 000 plus children during these Child Protection Weeks. I believe the opportunity is there to encourage children to come forward and tell us about either parent not being part of their lives, for whatever reason.

After an incident that occurred at Valhalla Primary, we were invited to speak to the children there. It was encouraging that some children came forward after we spoke to them.

After a separation period due to parental alienation, my children have been back for 3 years. This happened after some corruption, blackmail, bribery and falsified reports, locked court files, etc. Due to these circumstances, I have not been as active, as back when I fought my “battle”. Research back then showed an alarming percentage of children that were unfortunately withheld from contact with an able and willing parent without any reason.

Of the 60 000 children we will meet, I believe over 6 000 children suffer this terrible emotional abuse.

At Toys for Africa, we are by no means limited or in any way forced to take hands with the SAPS and in the towns where we do not receive approval, we still meet the children. The reasons we approach the SAPS stations are countless. However, with regards to parental alienation, false Domestic Violence 116 orders are something we have been able to educate or rather share some insights on, with the SAPS.

The amazing stories are plenty:

An 8-year-old boy was forced by Parent A to lay a false claim against Parent B for sexual assault. He came forward and said it was all made up and that he missed Parent B.

A 13-year-old girl received a quad bike from Parent A for telling a social worker she did not want to see Parent B out of fear for Parent B. After 3 years of no contact, now being more mature and having a real emotional need for Parent B, she acknowledged that Parent A promised the gift for the testimony.

I’d love to take hands with you to protect and empower our children.

Contact Danie: danie@toysforafrica.org.za to collaborate.

To date, over 379 350 children have benefited from our Passion.

SUSTERS

Ek en my ma arriveer van die kraaminrigting. Laan is ‘n kleuter van twee.  “Kyk na jou Sussie”.  Laan hardloop kamer toe en gaan haal haar kosbaarste besitting, haar speel strykystertjie.  Sy wil dit vir my gee – ‘n gebaar wat haar liefde en aanvaarding wys.  Sy was nooit jaloers nie en het haar hele lewe lank als met my gedeel, sonder om ooit daaroor te kla.  My Ousus is so ‘n onbaatsugtige “gee mens”.

Ek sit kruisbeen op die kombuiskas.  My onderlip bewe.  Ons Ma het weer voldag begin werk.  Ek mis haar en die huil sit vlak in my keel.  Ek is baie Ma-vas vir ‘n kind van agt.  Laan kom in die kombuis in en met een swiep tel sy my van die kombuiskas op, abba my van kamer tot kamer en sing en hardloop en maak perdgeluide.  Die lawwigheid laat my lag.  Dan stop sy ‘n half papgedrukte sjokolade-trosie in my hand.  Die taai soetigheid vul my hele wese en troos tog ‘n bietjie.  “Mamma kom amper huis toe… en as sy sien jy het gehuil, gaan sy ook huil”. Sy vee ‘n traan van my wang af met haar regter wysvinger.  Sy, my Ousus, was nog altyd my anker.

Dit is twee jaar later… Sy is nou ‘n wyse dame van dertien.  Dit is Junie vakansie en snerpend koud in die Vrystaat.  Die ryp wys nog plek-plek wie is baas.  Ouma Dons en Mamma is doenig in die huis. “Vandag gaan ek jou leer waar babas vandaan kom”, kondig sy aan met ‘n stem wat gesag dra.  Vasgeknyp onder haar arm is Oom Jan van Elfen se boek.  Sy sleep twee tuinstoele nader en ons kry ons sit agter die hoenderhok. “Kom laat ons begin”… Sy lees en lees en ek gaap haar oopmond aan.  Na elke bladsy vra sy plegtig:  “Enige vrae?”  Die grootmense is salig onbewus van die seksvoorligtingklas wat agter die hoenderhok ‘n aanvang neem.   Twee jaar later sleep Mamma ook die einste oom Jan van Elfen boekie nader. ”Laan het my klaar geleer Mamma.”  “Wanneer?”  Mamma se mond hap borrels soos ‘n vis.  “Ek was tien”.  My Ousus was altyd my leermeester.

Ons is studente en geniet elke oomblik daarvan.  Laan woon in die kamer langs myne in die studentehuis en later in die koshuis.  Op ons af-middae klim ons in ‘n skuimbad en “Nice and Easy” ons hare. Ons eet slap tjips in die studentesentrum en “gee punte” vir die mansstudente wat verby gesuiker kom.  Goeie, sorgelose dae!

Nou woon ek op my eie.  Ek is eensaam en alleen.  Agter bakhande fluister vriende en familie “Oujongnooi”.  Ek word genooi na al wat ‘n kombuistee en babatee is, maar vir my is dit net een groot droogte  Ek smag na ‘n maat, maar die troubesigheid wil maar net nie gebeur nie.  Maat vind is deksels moeilik!  Dit is ‘n Sondagaand. Die depressiewe Sondagaand-gevoel het my in sy greep, en daar verbrand ek my aandete ook nog.  ‘n Klop aan die deur… Laan staan met ‘n bos sonneblomme in haar arms, want sy weet dit is my gunsteling blom.  Ek huil op haar skouer.  “Toemaar, als sal regkom”.  Sy het my altyd hoop gegee.

Drie jaar later kry ek ‘n teksboodskap van haar.  “Sus, ek het jou nommer vir een van my vrywilligers gegee en hy gaan jou bel vir ‘n koffie-afspraak. Sy naam is Robert. Moet nou nie hardekwas wees nie.  Gee die man ‘n kans.  Robert kan ‘n lekker tjommie vir jou wees”.    En dit is inderdaad so.  Na tien jaar van getroud wees met my Robert, kan ek inderdaad saamstem.  Hy is my beste Tjommie.  As my Ousus nie ingegryp het met haar praktiese raad en hulp nie, het ek seker vandag nog alleen op Sondae-aande gehuil en my aandete verbrand.

Ek is swanger met ons eerste baba. Oor twee weke word die Asjassie gebore.  Boeke beantwoord nie my vrae so mooi nie.  Ek peper Lanie met ‘n lysie van sestig vrae.  Alles van keisersnitprosedures, tot babaversorging, tot wanneer die asjas uit die huis gaan oor twee dekades.  Alles wil ek in een aand beantwoord kry.  En Laan sit geduldig en teug aan haar koppie koffie en verduidelik en wys en demonstreer totdat al die bang weg is.

Nou is ek en sy volwasse vroue met huis en kind en kraai en manliefies en honderde take elke dag.  Maar die kere wat ons kuier is dit soos ‘n tuiskoms.  Gebind met ‘n onsigbare band van jare se daar wees en meemaak met mekaar.  Dankie, Sus, vir jare se liefde en raad en deel van my lewe wees.  Ek is baie lief vir jou.

deur Henlie Holm

SISTERS

My mother and I arrive from the maternity home. Lanie is a toddler of two. “Watch your sister”. Lanie runs to the room and fetches her most precious possession, her toy iron. She wants to give it to me. A gesture that shows her love and acceptance. She was never jealous and shared everything with me all my life, without ever complaining about it. My elder sister is such a selfless “giving person”.

I sit cross-legged on top of the kitchen cupboard. My lower lip trembles. Our mother started working full day again. I miss her and the sob is in my throat. I am too attached to my mom for a child of eight. Lanie comes into the kitchen and with one swoop she picks me up from the kitchen cupboard. I ride piggy-back from room to room while she sings and runs and neighs like a horse. The silliness makes me laugh. Then she puts a half-melted chocolate in my hand for comfort. The sticky sweetness fills my whole being and comforts me a little. “Mom will be home any minute now … and if she sees you crying, she’ll cry too.” She wipes a tear from my cheek with her right index finger. She is my Big Sister, she has always been my anchor.

It’s two years later… She is a wise lady of thirteen now. It is June holiday and freezing cold in the Free State. It is still frosty in places. Grandma and Mommy are busy in the house. “Today I’m going to teach you where babies come from,” Lanie announces with a voice that carries authority. Pinched under her arm is Uncle Jan van Elfen’s book. She drags two garden chairs closer for us to sit on behind the chicken coop. “Come, let’s begin”… She reads and reads and I gape at her open-mouthed. After each page she solemnly asks: “Any questions?” The adults are blissfully unaware of the sex education class that commenced behind the chicken coop. Two years later, Mommy also approaches me with the same Uncle Jan van Elfen booklet… ”Lanie has already taught me, Mom.” “When?” Mom was astonished. “I was ten.” My Big Sister has always been my teacher.

We are students and enjoy every moment of it. Lanie stays in the room next to mine in the student residence. During our afternoons off we climb into the bubble bath and “Nice and Easy” our hair. We eat chips in the student centre and “give marks” to the male students who pass by. Lovely, carefree days!

I live on my own now. I am alone and lonesome. Friends and family whisper “Spinster” behind their hands. I am invited to every kitchen tea and baby shower, but I experience a continuous drought – finding a soul mate is difficult! It is Sunday evening and I have the Sunday night blues. I even burnt my dinner!  A knock on the door … Standing there with a bunch of sunflowers in her arms, is Lanie.  She knows this is my favourite flower. I cry on her shoulder. “Don’t worry, everything will be alright”. She has always given me hope.

Three years later I receive a text message from her. “Sis, I gave your number to one of my volunteers and he will call you for a coffee date. His name is Robert. Don’t be obstinate now. Give the man a chance. Robert can be a great chum for you”. And that is indeed the case. After ten years of being married to my Robert, I can concur. He’s my best Tjommie. If my sister had not intervened with her practical advice and help, I would probably still be crying by myself on Sunday evenings and burnt my dinner.

I’m pregnant with our first baby, due in two weeks. Books do not always provide the answers. Lanie is bombarded with a list of sixty questions. Everything from the ceasarian procedures to baby care to leaving the house over two decades. Everything must be answered in one night. Lanie sips her coffee patiently and gently explains and shows and demonstrates until all the fear is gone.

Now we are mature women with homes, husbands and kids and hundreds of tasks every day. The times we visit each other are like coming home. We are tied with an invisible bond of years of being there for one another. Thank you, Sis, for years of love and advice and being in my life. I love you very much.

by Henlie Holm