Human Trafficking Awareness Week (3 to 7 October) brought some good news to the children’s’ rights non-profit organisation Anex (Activists networking against the exploitation of children) with a donation of R200 000 from the 1000 Women’s Trust in support of a much-needed initiative in the Karoo town of Murraysburg.
Earlier this year Anex was approached by the Department of Social Development to help establish a Child and Youth Centre for kids declared in need of special care by the Children’s Court. A property has now been identified in Murraysburg and on 1 April 2017 the doors of this special haven will open to 40 young people between ages 6 and 18.
With this initiative Anex hopes to help address the needs of destitute young people in the Karoo who often fall prey to sex predators along the N1 route. In recent years grim details have emerged about the increase in the number of children being abused and trafficked by truck drivers stopping at towns such as Beaufort West, Murraysburg, Merweville and Laingsburg to Cape Town.
Anex works tirelessly to prevent trafficking in children and child labour and to enhance the response from role-players to trafficking, explains Claudia Burger, Programme Director of the organisation. “Our main focus is on prevention and early intervention. There is a great need for alternative care for children whose home circumstances have deteriorated to a point where a court orders them to be taken into care,” says Burger. “At present the closest centre where such vulnerable children from the Eden and Central Karoo district can be accommodated is in George.”
The house in Murraysburg will not only be a shelter for children, but a family resource centre for the whole community, Burger explains. “We want to help parents reconnect with their children in an environment that is friendly and supportive. Murraysburg has one of the poorest communities in the country and there are a lot of broken attachments in families. The best way to help these kids is if we also reach out to their struggling parents, without making them feel inadequate. Everybody comes with their own trauma and in many cases parents simply can’t give children the care they need or provide them with security.”
The Anex house will be furnished in a way that is comfortable and child friendly, but not too far removed from the children’s own circumstances, Burger says. There will be a food garden and various facilities and programmes are envisioned to educate and empower the community. “We will host events that involve parents and the broader community and we will also ask businesses to come on board to support the initiative.”
The substantial donation from the 1000 Women’s Trust will make a big difference towards renovating the house and to train staff. Labourers from Murraysburg will be employed to help with the renovations. A management committee with representatives from the local community will soon be appointed.
Burger says any help with furnishing the house will be appreciated. “We can cover the basics, but we’ll be grateful for any kind of donation that can help us make this a warm and inviting place. We need furniture, toys, curtains, kitchen utensils, linen and blankets, pots and pans – anything that you can use in a house. Our aim is to bring about real and lasting change in a community plagued by many social ills.”
Tina Thiart of the 1000 Women’s Trust says this is a very special initiative that will provide much needed safety and security for vulnerable young girls and boys. “It is a project that will bring hope and healing to the whole community. We’re proud to be able to make a difference.”
Contact CLAUDIA BURGER of Anex if you want to make a contribution to the furnishing of the house in Murraysburg.