Children, COVID-19 and Consequences – A Reflection in Child Protection Month

We have all been impacted by this pandemic. For some of us it is the burden of working from home while managing crisis schooling, for others it is the worry over lost income and businesses we’ve built up over years. Our frontline families face uncertainty and anxiety as they wait for the approaching wave of patients while for others it is their very physical health that is at stake. We are all in a storm, paddling furiously to keep our heads above the water. We acknowledge this but we know too that we are not all in the same boat.  Our work at Arise as well as continuous ground level research shows us that this pandemic is set to have long-term consequences particularly for the children in our marginalised communities.


Finding the Opportunity in the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has done what all crises do – it’s stripped away many of the masks or veils that existed in day-to-day spaces.  It has magnified the strengths, opportunities and challenges that exist within our personal spaces, as well as in our communities – regardless of whether our community is well-resourced or struggling in this time. The Chinese word for crisis is often cited in motivational speaking: it’s made up of two characters, Wei which means danger and Ji which means opportunity. Both are playing out in this pandemic.    


How to Breathe Out While in Lockdown

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We often remind each other to breathe in during times of stress and anxiety. What we forget to check is whether we are breathing out as well.  Breathing out is important. Without releasing our breath, we can’t take in fresh air, we can’t move, and our bodies remain stressed and anxious, making It harder to think creatively or solve problems. When we are managing laundry, deadlines, children, meal plans and mess, we can lose touch and forget to breathe out!  This has never been truer than in our current state of lockdown.


Family Forum: Where Heartaches and Hope Meet Over a Cup of Tea

Parenting is said to be one of the most rewarding parts of being in family. It’s also one of the hardest parts of being in family. Our children are growing up with challenges and dynamics that none of us had to face. When we combine that with the social and economic challenges, being a parent can feel totally overwhelming. Especially when we are being asked to do things differently to what we know.


Whose Child is Next? An Open Letter to Cyril Ramaphosa

Dear Mr. President,

Why are you so silent? Is the senseless murder of the young Tazne Van Wyk just another South African statistic? How many children and women must die such violent and senseless deaths for the government to wake up and say, “We have to protect the most vulnerable in our society.” Our children are the future and yet they are growing up scared and traumatised, living inside their homes as it isn’t safe to play cricket or soccer outside in the streets. They’re too scared to go and buy a packet of Niknaks because someone could take them and they may never be seen again. The pain we cry as a nation is, “Whose child is next?”

Yes, we are angry! Yes, we are heartbroken! Yes, we demand that you – yes YOU, do more for our communities and our country. Do something instead of shouting in parliament about who is responsible for gender-based violence, a public platform where our young boys watch and see how men in power treat women. Stand up and be a role model. The chaos in parliament ripples into our schools, into our communities, into our homes and into the systems that are meant to protect our children.

Our statutory services are failing. As an organisation who works with children at-risk, children who are thrown out of school, roaming the streets or who are affected by abuse, we are tired of struggling to fight the systems that are in place. As social workers, psychologists and other professionals we struggle to report abuse to police officers, and see first hand how nothing happens to perpetrators of child abuse in our communities.  We fight with police and with statutory child protection agencies to press child abuse charges and we are faced with laughter in our faces and phrases like “Ma’am, nothing is going to happen here…our prisons are so full already.”

You see, this shows our children that they don’t matter, that their voices don’t count. They are invisible in society and people who are put in place to protect them in fact can’t, and promises from adults are broken yet again. Our children are growing up angry, mistrusting and have learnt to keep quiet when abuse continues to happen in their homes, schools and communities because what hope do they have when they see no justice?

What makes us so angry is that Tazne’s Van Wyk’s murder, like so many others, was and is, preventable! Tazne Van Wyk’s killer was a perpetrator of child abuse previously and yet his light sentence and lack of follow-up by parole officers led to her murder. And who is accountable for this? No one, because this is only one case of the thousands of perpetrators who are out on parole and who are not accounted for.

Is there hope? Despite everything, we believe that there is. But for change, we don’t just need hope, we need action. We need government and civil society to work together to keep our children safe. We need heavier sentences for child abuse; we need perpetrators to be in restorative justice programmes; we need statutory workers to be held accountable for their lack of investigative work and we need child abuse cases to be taken seriously!

So while you stay silent, Mr President, our children’s bodies are piling up…and we ask ourselves “whose child is next?”

Written collectively by the Arise Staff Team

It’s Not My Story to Tell – How to Avoid Oversharing as an Adoptive Parent

Imagine something that is private for you – it might be something that is sacred, something that is painful or something that is complicated and not yet resolved. You choose to share this private story, in confidence with someone else. It’s something that has been shared with the other person with the understanding that they will safeguard it for you. You might speak about it, you might be very selective about who you share this with or you might realize that there are parts you feel free to share and others you don’t.


Strong Families, Strong Communities

What is family in South Africa?

Not all families look the same.  International research shows that our country is unique by the extent in which parents are absent from their children’s daily lives. Recent studies have shown that over 20% of South African children do not live with both biological parents and up to 57% of children have absent fathers. Many of our families consist of female-headed households, child-headed households, and combinations of families with aunts, uncles and their children all living together.