Celebrating in the Time of a Pandemic

It’s October 2020 and there are two months to go until the end of the year and what a year it has been. October is Arise’s birthday month and we celebrate 12 years as an NGO. Twelve years of seeking justice for children, to see them thriving in their families, advocating fiercely to see children in permanent families who are equipped to see the fullness of their children through adoption; and training tirelessly to see other professionals and organisations equipped to understand the importance of thriving families in order to see stronger communities.

Founded in 2008, the beginning of the Arise story goes back to the passion of a young lady interning at an NGO in Claremont who wanted to see a holistic response to children living without families. From working with children living on the streets of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs to a move to the heart of the Cape Flats in 2010 and then the creation of the Family Strengthening Model in 2015. 2019 saw us introduce an additional service of training and consulting. Our organisation’s desire has always been to see every child being raised in a thriving family environment so that they can reach their full potential. Arise achieves this through nurturing strengths, building resilience, deepening relationships, growing problem-solving skills and creating a sense of belonging for all families.

We celebrate all of our milestones this month as we reflect on our achievements, learnt lessons, continued challenges, all of the changes we have gone through as an organisation, all of the role players who played such an important part in who Arise is today. From our founder who birthed the organisation, to our social workers who have worked hard to form relationships with families and children in the communities, to our interns and volunteers who challenged us to be more innovative and to our board members who have supported us through it all.

Finding joy amidst suffering is what Arise does best. Strange, but true. Arise has gone through many difficult times and yet there has been joy. In 2018, we were about to close our doors and yet, through sacrifice and determination we saw the end of 2018 winning a Gold Award for Social Innovation. We have received many rejection letters from funding proposals yet we see the change we are making in the families lives and continue to write more proposals and innovate an income generation model at the same time.

In 2020, we had grand plans to travel and grow our training and adoption support services and pilot new programmes in our local communities – then COVID hit us! And just like that, our team did what it does best. Pray. Reflect. And Prioritise. By April of this year, we knew our grand plans had to be changed and so we rolled up our sleeves to strategically determine how to adapt to this new way of living during the pandemic. We were able to do home visits to over 130 families and fed over 500 families through food parcels, supporting local feeding schemes and partnering. We continued to support our local communities through Whatsapp videos, voicenotes, calls and smses. We took our skills online and developed 15 new workshops online and had to adapt 3 of our professional training programmes for the online platform too.

We saw an opportunity to engage with race and diversity conversations taking place in our more affluent schools, and again, highlight the importance of seeing the fullness of a child which includes not being colour-blind and understanding what it means to be living in a race conscious world. All the while we continued to partner with other organisations, learn from other professionals and seek opportunities for our vision to grow. We have achieved all of this during a pandemic where we saw families suffer, while violence erupted in our communities, and despite some donors stop supporting us financially – by advocating strongly for our child protections services to be better.

It’s out of these hard times that we have learnt what we need to change, what we need to keep and how we can continue to persevere.  We’ve learnt who we are as an organisation and how God has called us to serve children and their families. These hard times have helped shape us as individuals, as a team and have allowed us to become more focused and effective as an organisation. What we truly cling onto is our faith during these hard times. As Christians, we believe that God is in control and that we can trust in His guidance. And we learn to appreciate and celebrate every blessing. Despite this, we feel incredibly privileged to be instrumental in demonstrating God’s love to every child and/or adult that benefit from the services we provide. 

To our donors, friends and all those who pray for our work, please share this joy and celebrate Arise and all that we have learnt and achieved so far because without you this would not be possible.

A message written by Danielle Moosajie, Arise Director

*Photo taken by Marysol Blomerus at the Arise 2019 Celebration Event