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ICHAF Training honoured by Child and Family Welfare

Devan Moonsamy from the ICHAF Training Institute has been honoured by Verulam Child and Family Welfare charity for his organisation’s ongoing support to the children of South Africa since 2012. Devan’s parents, Mr Mannie and Mrs Lilly Moonsamy, accepted the award on ICHAF’s behalf. Continuous funding to Child Welfare from ICHAF has contributed to poverty alleviation over the past seven years.

Through Verulam Welfare, ICHAF donations are aimed at helping whole families. This helps build a stronger, healthier family unit, which is still the most critical source of care and support for a child. Nevertheless, more than 6.6 million children live in poverty in South Africa and more than 1.8 million of these children live with neither parent. They are thus in very vulnerable situations with little or no proper adult care and supervision. We know the plight of AIDS orphans and child-headed households is a terrible reality in Africa, and it is vital that more companies and donors focus intensely on their needs.

Young children lack the experience and financial access to improve their lives on their own. Yet there are still many left without their basic living and education needs met. All donations should help the most needy, but many remain neglected, especially in rural areas that are hard to access, and where it is difficult for organisations based in cities to spread their reach. Organisations with reach in rural areas are better placed to help these children and donors should focus on these for maximum effect.

ICHAF is combating child welfare problems in a number of ways. Among the costs covered by the donations are food, healthcare and medical expenses, and domestic child and baby care. Financial assistance is made towards children in foster care to ensure their wellbeing in what is still a potentially vulnerable situation. To ensure children living in vulnerable situations receive education access towards their own upliftment in future, school fees and tutoring are also covered.

ICHAF has been the most consistent funder to the Verulam Child Welfare to date, but this remains an uncommon situation. Many donations are made to help children; however, they tend to be once-off, leading to inconsistent access. Thus, some schools in Africa may receive a donation of stationery, for example, but nothing else again for a long time. This may help in one area in the short term, but companies and other donors should shift to long-term funding strategies.

One way to do this is to ensure that specific, identified children in vulnerable situations benefit over the course of their schooling. Donors can focus on a specific area or need, such as children with a disability from low-income homes, and ensure their unique educational needs are met in the long term so that they are equipped by the time they reach adulthood to have greater independence and a source of income. These kinds of interventions are the ones that make a real difference.

Devan says that support for recognised, well-run charities in South Africa is very important and more companies and people should channel support to these organisations which already have effective programmes in place. Interventions are properly managed, and the results are visible. One can also donate time and effort, and second-hand clothes, shoes, stationery, and books will always be welcome.

There has been an outcry over the poor state of education in the country, particularly the low literacy and numeracy levels. We may sit and wonder why the government doesn’t simply improve the curriculum and conduct more teacher training. While this is helping, we should not miss other potent causal factors of the education crisis – which begin in the home and not in the school environment.

Prof. Jace Pillay, a researcher in education and care in childhood at the University of Johannesburg, thus explains that vulnerable children tend to perform poorer than their peers largely due to a lack of facilities and homework support. This contributes in a major way to the education crisis. There is simply no one available to assist these children, and their teachers are overwhelmed with their workload so that they cannot help their learners enough on the individual level. Other adults are needed to fill in the gaps for these children, such as tutors and orphanage workers. Funding should be directed to help with these costs.

Devan is thus urging other companies to get in touch with him or Child Welfare directly so as to discuss new funding or partnership opportunities and so that more awareness can be created about sustainable donating for the improvement of children’s lives in the long term.

Please contact Devan or Verulam Child and Family Welfare using the contact details below. Alternatively, contact a charity in your area, or one which focuses on a specific need you or your company would like to help with.

Tel: 011 262 2461
Cell: 083 303 9159

Verulam Child and Family Welfare
Address: 5/7 Church Street, Verulam, KZN
Tel: 032 533 1046

Devan Moonsamy featured in the 2019 April edition of Premiere Magazine

Devan Moonsamy is honoured to be the feature article in the 2019 April edition of Premiere Magazine

Homeless and Destitute: Cape Winelands Tenants Turned Out onto the Street

By Devan Moonsamy

20 000 People are Affected by the Winelands Tenant Crisis

The Cape Winelands is facing a severe eviction crisis. A few days ago the Supreme Court of Appeal threw out an application from a property developer to allow the removal of two families. This is only a temporary victory as the property developer still has other options. Not all tenants in these circumstances have been even so fortunate.

The May family of 13 people were evicted last week from a wine farm where they had been living for almost 40 years. Their possessions were dumped on the side of the road and they were forced out by armed security guards. About 20 000 people in what many people think are the tranquil surrounds of the Cape Winelands are also facing such prospects. It truly is a crisis.

There are a number of issues and misunderstandings about the tenant-landlord/lady relationship which have contributed to this problem and which require attention:

  1. Tenants often have to pay for background checks to reassure the landholder of their good standing. They also must provide references. But a landlord/lady is not required to do the same. This means that tenants have no such safeguard against a landholder who will not treat them fairly.
  2. There is no reporting and background checking system for landlords/ladies. There is not even an informal system, website, or online forum where tenants can report a problem landlord/lady. Potential tenants should have a way to check reviews by past tenants. If we do this for restaurants and other business, how much more important is it for people who must blindly enter into an agreement with a landlord/lady? It is advisable for communities, locally and nationally, to set up a forum with a rating system. This is not just to identify problem landholders, but to help prospective tenants find one they can trust.
  3. Few people understand what the (poorly termed) ‘squatter’s rights’ are. There is much confusion about how these rights actually work and when they apply. They do not privilege squatters in the way many people believe they do. Squatters do not have a legal right to indefinite occupancy, regardless of how long they have lived in a place. No person has the lawful right to occupy a property against the permission of the owner – unless a court order sanctions it. Essentially, it is up to the court to decide if and how an eviction may proceed.
  4. What squatters do have is the right not to be forcibly removed. This protects occupants’ constitutional right to dignity and to a home. A court will not sanction a landholder taking matters into their own hands and forcibly evicting an occupant, as happened to the May family in the Cape. Occupants and landholders must both be allowed to plead their case in court. Depending on the individual case, the court may grant the eviction with specific terms.
  5. An expired lease does not give the landholder rights to evict the tenant. They also may not lock tenants out, disrupt the supply of electricity or water, among other actions that would affect the tenants’ rights to shelter and amenities. Rent is excessively high in the Cape Town area, which further adds to the problem. Nevertheless, if the tenant has not been paying rent they may be ordered by the court to do so.

In the end, it is up to the court to decide on these matters. Occupants may stay in a home, and landholders may not remove them until the judicial process has run its course. To protect tenants, it is advisable that communities start a forum or website to report problem landholders and to help people find better ones.