The Community that Builds Our Children
By Dianne Andersen
This is a famous African proverb and a very apt description of all that goes into raising children. It takes a whole village, a community of different individuals to build children up, to fill them with love and guidance, to offer them security and protection, to nurture and educate them, and to see them grow into responsible, caring and productive citizens.
Here at Shelter we are passionate about this, and would like to highlight in this issue how much the community has helped our children in every stage of their lives. And what better reward for all those who work tirelessly for our children than seeing the fruit of their labour – happy, well-balanced children growing into confident young adults. We know this doesn’t happen overnight but over time. It is never one big thing but a series of small things that help mould children - like a daily set routine, school, tuition, caring for their needs, nutritious meals, playing, learning, and so many other things that fill a child’s life day to day. These things don’t happen by themselves but are the result of the work done by many selfless, dedicated individuals who help build our children in one way or another.
Children - from infancy to early childhood, pre-teens and teens - require much time, love, nurturing and guidance. Without these basic needs, they will grow up lacking in many ways, in self-esteem and confidence. Being vulnerable and easily led astray, many end up going down the wrong path in life. More so for orphans, neglected, rejected or abused children who end up in Homes. These children are far more vulnerable and need to have all their basic needs met and be in a safe and secure environment surrounded by people who care for them.
SHELTER strives to meet all the needs of the children who live in the Homes; the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter and an education, we provide tuition and counselling for those who need it. There are so many hardworking, caring helpers, kind and generous volunteers, sponsors and all those who help either monetarily or in other ways, who make all of this possible. Without the combined help and support of all, SHELTER would never be able to carry on doing what it is doing.
This is why SHELTER feels so strongly about this topic and would like to convey both gratitude and appreciation to all, including many of the hardworking individuals whose work might seem to go unnoticed, but who are enriching the lives of our children in so many ways every single day. We would also like to specially mention the many volunteers and helpers whose love and dedication have made such an impact on our children. They have helped in an array of ways including teaching, cooking, training, driving, giving medical help and the list goes on. And of course, there are also those who have helped ‘do up’ the Homes by painting, fixing, supplying needed items or donated goods. These Homes are the very sanctuaries for our children to live and grow in; and having them all spruced up with everything in good working condition creates a healthy living space that one can thrive in.
SHELTER would also like to thank our sponsors and donors who help keep everything afloat. Without your invaluable support, it would be an uphill battle to meet all the needs of these young ones. At present, where both education fees and cost of living have soared, it is an on-going challenge that we face. We sincerely hope more people will stand with Shelter in supporting these Homes and we believe that together we can continue to make a difference in so many children’s lives.
A quote from historian Lewis Mumford, articulating from a child’s point of view:
“Above all we need, particularly as children, the reassuring presence of a visible community, an intimate group that enfolds us with understanding and love, and that becomes an object of our spontaneous loyalty, as a criterion and point of reference for the rest of the human race.”
It speaks of the importance a community plays in the lives of children and subsequently the result of that involvement that brings forth a generation that is caring, responsible and tolerant, wanting to give back to society even as they have received.