The theme for International Child and Youth Care Workers Week 6 to 12 May 2019: “I am, because you are”.

People like to ask why Child and Youth Care workers chose to pursue a career with demands as taxing and a job description that just never seems to end.

Was it a burning desire to change a life for the better?

Was it an attempt at giving back to the world by doing a lifelong kindness?

Or maybe the underlying desire to be a mother/father to plenty had nibbled and gnawed its way into their future.

The reasons are plentiful and varying, but in all honesty, so is the work. So we might ask ourselves, why do they do it? Let’s forget about the cheesy one-liners and heart-warming Facebook statuses and really apply our minds to the reason why these men and women dedicate their lives to shaping the generation of tomorrow.

Any mother will tell you that raising a child is a big blended bowl of walks in the park mixed with the occasional equivalent of wrestling an alligator. There are ups, there are downs and then there is spinning in circles so fast that you forget which one is up and which is down.

Most of the time you can do little else but close your eyes and blindly stumble forward in the hopes that you are doing the right thing. Parenting is no easier than trying to nail jelly to a tree or asking a dog what it would like for lunch.

So the question remains, why do they do it?

Why get up before the crack of dawn and go to bed long after the stars had started dancing in the sky?

Why take an oath to wash dishes until your fingers go wrinkly and your back threatens to give in on you?

Why pledge your undying allegiance to the broom and mop?

Why wrestle thirty alligators when one is already more than you ever thought you could handle? Why wander around in the dark not knowing when you could potentially stub your pinkie toe against the corner of a desk or table leg?

Comprehensible answers seems non-existent but go out into the world and ask these very questions to the first Child and Youth Care worker you come across. Their reply might surprise you.

They’ll tell you that they do it for the smiles, that they do it to see distinctions on report cards, they do it to see a sleeping face after soothing and singing the monsters away.

They do it to see friends find each other, to witness the systematic shaping of a future doctor or lawyer or leader.

They do it to see the broken be mended, the fallen rise from the ashes; they do it to see fire touching the stars.

They do it to wipe tears from small faces, to patch up a skinned knee and rejoice when the training wheels come off and that first bike ride sails across the lawn.

They do it to pick up the pieces of a shattered High School heart and patiently glue it back together so it may beat on to fall in love another day.

They do it to live in the moment, to stand on the sideline and cheer as those they’ve come to care for strive towards heights formerly thought unreachable.

They say it takes a big person to love someone else’s children like their own, could you imagine how big a person it takes to love upwards of thirty children like your own?

All this being said, Child and Youth Care workers do not call it sacrifice; they do not call it public service or a deed of goodwill towards charity. They do not call it a job but a lifestyle. They do not work with the lives of children, they live with them, silently observing, knowingly shaking their heads and handing out hugs when they sense the aftermath of a bad day at school.

So cheer for them, admire them and believe in them.

 by Marno Reyneke, Third year psychology student.


*LL = pseudonym

Before LL was even a mere thought, he was already part of SAVF. His mum’s involvement enabled us to get to know LL even through his mum’s pregnancy. We have been looking forward to his birth and to start playing with him.

LL’s mother went for routine investigations during her pregnancy, where it was determined that LL would be born with a defect. We were sad with Mommy, but stood together to give her hope that LL would receive medical support.

The special day finally arrived, and LL was born (sharing his birthday with the regional manager, Mrs Ferreira). Great excitement prevailed, and the staff at the hospital had to teach Mommy to support and feed LL with a major cleft lip and palate with which he was born.

There were regular follow-up examinations at the hospital, with challenges regarding early morning transport for mom and baby and waiting in long queues. The investigations culminated in an operation that had to be done at the same hospital, so that LL’s lip could be repaired. The Smile Foundation was approached and the first operation was eventually done with there assistance.

LL is becoming the most beautiful little boy. He is spontaneous and happy and shares love as much as he receives. His first operation was only the first step in a road that still lies ahead of him, but the joy in his eyes is something special to behold.

SAVF walks the road with LL – to change his life, to always give hope and to ensure a smile on his face.

Estelle de Man, Social Worker, SAVF Vanderbijlpark



The vulnerable few months’ old bundle’s soft moaning sounds are quickly replaced by convulsions and a loud cry. Here it is again! Her despondent adoptive mommy affectionately hugs her and prays that the Lord will take away the withdrawal of drugs in her body. It is unfair … kids’ shoulders are not built to bear the weight of their parents’ choices … Wrong decision of a young mom in her youth.

Today she is 17, healthy, laughing, a teenager on the eve of adulthood. She had to make choices and take responsibility, take note of her circumstances and try to make sense of it. She chose to accept, forgive, to reach out, instead of receiving. She conscientiously reports to the social work office and helps to carry chairs, unpack and serve. She targets the children in her school that suffer and takes care of everything. Her values ​​are anchored and her passion is contagious. Youth like you, dear Zoë, give me hope for tomorrow!

Our youth, our ticket for the future, our hope. We need to help them survive in the current climate of political and economic challenges, from social media and worthless movies. We need to free them from a culture of entitlement, from a character without integrity and egotism and from no longer caring for you, next to me. Perhaps we should learn about rights again, but remember to fulfil your own responsibility first.

We celebrate Youth Day on June 16, but many South African children will not have the opportunity to develop into leaders. However, maybe we can make a difference. I took note of the following five ways in which we can help our youth develop into fully-fledged citizens with a difference:

  1. Feed

No one can work on an empty stomach and no child can develop without the necessary nutrition. Help a child.

  1. Educate

A sad reality is that some children will not grow up with bedtime stories or be put in bed by a loving mother. You can help finance a child’s education or open your home to experience your love.

  1. Empowerment

Help empower our young people through education so they can develop in women and men that can contribute to the growth of our country. Set an example. Live your values. Maintain integrity. Learn by showing without saying a word.

  1. Clean up

Instead of complaining about the children’s messy rooms, let them help you. Tackle their bedrooms and donate excess clothes, books and toys to needy children. Let your children be part of this. Teach them to reach out and care. Your unusable items become a jewel in another’s life! It is better to give than to receive!

  1. Read about matters

Help by knowing the needs of your own environment. Find out which emotional challenges our youth are facing, about drug use, the importance of discerning decisions, and emotional intelligence. With your knowledge you can make a difference no matter how small it is.

  1. Time

Love is spelled T I M E. Make time for each other, for your teenager, away from cell phones, television and other entertainment. May your home be a safe haven for your teenager to always return too.

On Youth Day we celebrate being young, dreams and creativity! Together we build a better future, one by one, with Zoë’s small contribution.

Suzette Oosthuizen, Regional Manager


Die weerlose, paar maande-oue bondeltjie se sagte kreungeluidjies word gou vervang deur stuiptrekkings en ‘n harde gehuil.  Hier is dit weer! Haar moedelose aanneem-mamma druk haar liefdevol vas en bid dat die Here die onttrekking van ‘n lyfie vol dwelms moet wegvat. Dit is onregverdig… kinders se skouers is nie gebou om die gewig van hul ouers se keuses te dra nie… Verkeerde besluit van ‘n jong mamma in haar jeug.

Vandag is sy 17, gesond, laggend, ‘n tiener op die vooraand van volwassenheid.  Sy moes  keuses maak en verantwoordelikheid neem, haar omstandighede aanhoor en sin daaruit probeer maak. Sy het gekies om te aanvaar, te vergewe, om uit te reik, in plaas van te ontvang.  Sy meld pligsgetrou by die maatskaplike werkkantoor aan en help stoele dra en uitpak, bedien en regpak.  Sy teiken die afvlerkvoëltjies in haar skool en maak heel en versorg. Haar waardes is geanker en haar passie aansteeklik. Jeug soos jy, liewe Zoë, gee my hoop vir môre!

Ons jeug, ons kaartjie vir die toekoms, ons hoop.  Ons moet hulle help oorleef in die huidige klimaat van politieke en ekonomiese uitdagings, van sosiale media en waardelose films.  Ons moet hulle bevry van bakhandstaan en die ontvang-kultuur, van ʼn karakter sonder integriteit en ʼn eiewaan en nie meer omgee vir jou, hier langs my nie. Dalk moet ons weer leer van regte, maar onthou om eers eie verantwoordelikheid na te kom.

Ons vier Jeugdag op 16 Junie,  maar baie Suid-Afrikaanse kinders sal nie die geleentheid hê om in leiers te ontwikkel nie.  Miskien kan ons tog ʼn verskil maak.  Ek lees die volgende vyf maniere raak waarop ons ons Jeug kan help om te ontwikkel in volwaardige landsburgers met ʼn verskil:

  1. Voed

Niemand kan op ʼn leë maag werk nie en geen kind kan sonder die nodige voeding ontwikkel nie. Help ʼn kind.

  1. Voed op

ʼn Hartseer werklikheid is dat party kinders nie met slaaptydstories sal grootword of deur ʼn liefdevolle ma in die bed gesit sal word nie. Jy kan ʼn kind se opvoeding help finansier of jou huis oopstel vir ʼn kind om jou liefde te ervaar.

  1. Bemagtiging

Help om ons jong mense deur opvoeding te bemagtig sodat hulle in vroue en mans kan ontwikkel wat tot die groei van ons land kan bydra. Stel ʼn voorbeeld.  Leef jou waardes. Handhaaf Integriteit.  Leer deur te wys sonder om ʼn woord te sê.

  1. Maak skoon

Pleks van oor die kinders se deurmekaar kamer te kla, laat hulle jou help.  Takel hul slaapkamers en skenk oortollige klere, boeke en speelgoed aan behoeftige kinders.  Laat jou kinders deel wees hiervan. Leer hulle uitreik en omgee.  Jou onbruikbare items raak ʼn juweel in ʼn ander se lewe! Dit is beter om te gee as om te ontvang!

  1. Lees na

Help deur op hoogte van die behoeftes in jou eie omgewing te wees.  Vind uit watter emosionele uitdagings ons jeug mee te kampe het, oor dwelmgebruik, die belangrikheid van gesonde besluite en emosionele intelligensie. Met jou kennis kan jy ʼn verskil maak, hoe klein dit ook al is.

  1. Tyd

Ons almal spel liefde as T Y D.  Maak tyd vir mekaar, vir jou tiener, weg van selfone, televisie en ander vermaak.  Mag jou huis ʼn veilige hawe wees vir jou tiener om altyd heen terug te kom.

Op Jeugdag vier ons jonk wees, drome en kreatiwiteit!  Saam bou ons aan ʼn beter toekoms, een vir een, saam met Zoë se klein begin.

 ‘n Woordjie van die aanneem-mamma:   “Ek is so dankbaar dat ander ook die mooi in hierdie kindjie van my raaksien.Sy was van dag een af die grootste geskenk vir my en my man.

Dit was nie elke dag maklik nie, maar ek het NOOIT OOIT gedink aan opgee nie.

Dit is die waardes wat ek vir haar ook leer.

Dankie vir die grootste geskenk ooit aan my toevertrou.

Ek GLO iewers het ons iets reg gedoen om so pragtige kind te mag ons eie noem”.

 Susette Oosthuizen, Streekbestuurder


Children known to SAVF are often traumatized by their circumstances and sometimes by their parents. These are conditions without hope and with tragic endings.

As someone recently said, the terrible circumstances children experience are often “age restricted” but that is what the children experience in practice!

Read the success “stories” of certain very special children.

According to the provisions of the Children’s Act, they may not be identified, but we may share their stories. The children have benefited from the community’s generosity and over time, with their own inputs, changed their lives.

  • On Christmas Day 2007 a girl was admitted to a SAVF Child and Youth Care centre (CYCC). She was destitute, neglected and without family. Twelve years later she is a fourth year B.Ed. student. She was not only able to go to university, but also to rise above her circumstances.
  • In 2010 another girl, who was one of four siblings, and who could no longer live in the very poor circumstances without food, clothes and proper shelter, was admitted. Last year she obtained a BA degree and is currently busy with her LLB. She passes every year with excellent marks and is now trying to obtain her driver’s licence.
  • In 2009 twin boys without parents were admitted to a CYCC. Not only did they find a home but also a place where they could develop their passions and talents. One of the boys obtained a BA Sport Science degree and is a role model for his “brothers” and “sisters” in the CYCC.
  • In her matric year the circumstances of another girl were so bad that she had to be placed in a CYCC urgently. She had no family who could take care of her. The positive outcome of her circumstances made such an impression on her that she started studying social work.

These children took advantage of the opportunities created for them.

They each received a government bursary that paid for study fees and accommodation. SAVF, as their parent, provided them with moral support, a home to visit during the holidays, as well as pocket money, money for books, food and clothing. The funds were provided by the SAVF Development and Empowerment initiative.

Would you like to make a contribution? There are more children who would love to benefit in the same manner.

Dr Blanche Verster