Feature image: Tutor Mpho and two Grade 4 children
Carmel Lawry returned to Holy Family Care Centre (HFCC) at the end of 2020 to offer organisational and administrative support as well as mentoring for the Outreach Program. She has been connected with HFCC since 2011 in various roles. Carmel shares an update below.
Hello from South Africa! I returned to HFCC on the 31st December 2020 right in the middle of the second wave of the Covid pandemic!
About Holy Family Care Centre
HFCC is located in the northern province of Limpopo in South Africa. We take care of abused, neglected, abandoned and sick children who are referred to us through the intervention of Social Workers, Police, Educators and Health providers. We currently have 42 school aged children from Grade Reception to Grade 10, 6 babies in our nursery and 14 Creche children. The aim is to reunite the children with relatives when their home situations are improved or when a responsible adult is found who is willing to care for the children.
Effects of Covid-19
The Covid pandemic has been a major disruption to the lives of the children and staff at Holy Family Care Centre just like the rest of the world. Keeping the children and staff safe and well during this time, particularly the vulnerable living with the chronic illness of HIV/Aids has been our ultimate aim.
Infection control procedures at the centre have been ongoing since March 2020. The children were home schooled last year and at the end of 2020 some children were allowed to return to their extended family / foster carers for a limited time over Christmas. During this time many people returned from major towns and cities where they were working, back to their home villages and this saw the second wave of infections and consequently deaths within the broader community and a marked increase in the Limpopo Province (the second poorest province in South Africa).
In January 2021 the country returned to stage 3 restrictions and as children returned, we were extremely careful to monitor everyone. The procedures consist of daily temperature recording for all children and staff, wearing of “Personal Protective Equipment”: facemasks, face shields, provision of hand sanitisers in every department and health education updates. We also purchased more infrared thermometers and oximeters so that we could monitor everyone’s health on a daily basis. Fortunately, we have 4 oxygen concentrators in stock if required. As expected, all hospitals are not managing the demand for help.
We have just recommenced the home-schooling program for 2021. The Government schools opened on the 15th February but are only providing staggered classes. In discussion with all the local school principals it was agreed to reduce the risk to our children and home-school again. Continued flooding rains since late January as a result of the outreaches of cyclone Eloise have made the gravel roads to our local village schools impassable, another reason for home-schooling.
What does the future hold?
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says that South Africa is not out of the danger zone yet although the second wave has passed. The country is currently edging towards 50,000 deaths. The risk of a third wave is highly likely as the new South African variant is highly contagious and we again head towards an Easter break where we see increased travel to other provinces for gatherings and celebrations. The availability of a vaccination is in its infancy stage as stocks have not been made available and the new virus variant has caused reconsideration of effectiveness.
HFFC has been fortunate thus far to report that all the children and staff are Covid free and we will continue to remain vigilant to ensure everyone’s safety.