16 June 2017 Read: 480
Dzuni Mathevula turns 17 this year. She was only 3 years old when social workers placed her in the care of Sylvie and her husband, Remi Delsouiller. They are the founders of the Noah’s Ark Children’s Home, an orphanage just outside Tzaneen. Currently, Dzuni is working her way through high school at one of the region’s most prominent schools, after which she hopes to become a social worker herself. She shares a home with another 17-year old, Reineth Maila, who attends the same high school. She wants to be a magistrate one day. They are the oldest of the close on 50 children living at Noah’s Ark and chances are that they will leave one day soon to follow their dreams.
“It is always a sad affair for us when our children have to leave home to fend for themselves,” said mom Sylvie. “These are our children and maternal instinct will always want to keep them where we can protect and guard them.”
The Delsouiller’s are originally from France and came to South Africa around two decades ago when they started the children’s home at the Christian centre, Alon. When the need arose for more space to house the influx of children, the couple left Alon and bought the piece of land opposite Venbeck they currently operate from. Every morning Remi drives the kids to school, and each afternoon he fetches them again. Noah’s Ark pays their tuition fees and have just recently added a brand new crèche, with a teacher, to their property to make it easier for the pre-schoolers.
Being a non-profit organization, Noah’s Ark relies solely on the government grants they receive per child and donations from the community.
“The government grants are not much and have remained the same for a few years now,” explained Remi. “Some months the government doesn’t pay the grants at all and that, as you can imagine, places us in a very difficult spot.”
Remi expressed their gratitude towards the Tzaneen community for the monthly donations of food and clothing they receive. He said they even receive toys. A number of businesses help out where they can with paint and other donations too, but currently, they have a serious need for financial assistance.
The grants total only R2 500 per child, per month, up until the age of 18, when those grants abruptly stop. It may sound like a lot, but when you factor in the 2 000 nappies and the large quantities of baby formula they have to purchase every month, the picture looks rather grim. The problem with the age limit of 18 years, is that some of the children never went to school before they arrived at the Delsouiller’s and will therefor turn 18 while in the middle of their high school years.
“What do we do then? We cannot be expected to kick these girls out on the street where they stand a very high chance of being trafficked into prostitution or worse. But the system is the system and we have to find ways to make it work.”
If you are in a position to donate clothing, blankets, books or toys, feel free to deliver your donation package to the offices of Far North Media in Hospital Street. Once a week we will deliver all the collections to the home. For those able to contribute financially, please contact Sylvie on 082-573-8383 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For any further information visit their website at www.noahs-
Every child at Noah’s Ark has a story. Some were abandoned at birth and others were removed from abusive homes and placed here for their own safety. But all of them remember that they once had parents and that somewhere, something happened. If the ark has managed only thing successfully, it would be the restoration of faith in humanity.