CHANGE is on the horizon for Nelson Mandela Bay’s House of Resurrection in Salsoneville, with plans in place to extend the haven to more than just an orphanage.
The haven was opened in 1995 as, what head Reverend Nicolette Leonard calls, a place where people would spend their last years, but she said the haven is becoming a place for children to live.
“We have been planning to do the relaunch for quite some time as previously, it was a place where people came to die in dignity. Children of these people would then be left behind because not all the families would want to take them in after the death.
“Then the Department of Social Development told the haven that the children and the adults needed to be separated. This is how it became a children’s home,” she said.
The church which ran the haven at the time (St John’s Anglican Church in Walmer), could no longer continue running it – after Leonard learnt about the possibility of the haven closing down, she decided to step in to prevent this from happening in 2010 and took a different approach to managing the centre.
“I was sent in by the church to try and resurrect the place. I came to the conclusion that running it as an orphanage would never work because with orphanages and fostering, there are people who come in and out of the children’s lives constantly and the children feel like they don’t belong.
“Some of these children are also torn away from their siblings as a result of fostering and what we do is keep the children together in a family with a mother figure. We try to resemble a normal family.” She said they resurrected the place into something new and different and “by raising children into a family they can have a sense of belonging”.
The haven currently has 36 children who live in families of six, with the mother as the head. Leonard said the aim was to eventually have six separate cottages for the children and their “mothers” to live in – a project inspired by architectural student Ruben Dhont, 25, who provided the plans for the haven.
“We already have two houses on the property but we would like to build new ones for the children. We want them to have a place to grow in and a place that they can call home. Then the family situation can become a reality for these children.
“But to make this a reality, we need the Nelson Mandela Bay community to help us raise the roof over these children,” she said.
Leonard said the focus of the haven had changed over the years from taking care of sick children to raising healthy kids. “We want to take care of the total wellbeing of children – spiritually, physically and emotionally”.