A humanitarian organisation has decided to help the struggling families living at Westdene 10A, the organisation’s founder told The Open Journal on the 13th of September.
The Wykes Foundation is a charitable organisation that wants to open a children’s home for at-risk children living at 10A. Lynn Fortuin, the founder of the Wykes Foundation intends to convert her own home into a children’s home.
“We’ve started a home. It will be launched [on] the 31st of October this year,” Fortuin said. The humanitarian also said that the haven will be focused primarily on helping “vulnerable” children.
“They will be provided with a safe home, [a clean, healthy environment and] nutritious food. We also plan on making sure that they’re placed at educational institutions whether it’s a creche, preschool [or] primary school,” she said.
Due to its unique location Fortuin’s home is ideal for becoming a children’s home. “It’s right opposite a primary school. The environment would be a lot better for the children,” said Rosa Vucevic, Vice Chair of the Westdene Residents Association.
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Many of the children that the Wykes Foundation wants to assist have suffered traumatic events. UJ’s Auckland Park Kingsway campus is near the home that will soon be opened. The organisation would like to involve UJ in the project for the purpose of offering counselling to the children.
“We would like to work with the University of Johannesburg in terms of getting them (the children) support on a psychological level…to help them deal with some of the trauma,” Fortuin said.
The Wykes Foundation will also be helping the children’s parents to find ways to support their families. The parents will be allowed to look after their children full-time once the foundation is confident that the family unit will be a stable one. “The aim is not to separate parents from children but rather to help them both find their feet,” Fortuin said.
“Some of the parents really need help. They’re just unemployed, they’re forced to live in 10A. Those that would want to be rehabilitated into society again, we’ll try and help them find jobs or help them start their own businesses,” she added.
Fortuin has already managed to assist some of the residents of 10A. Elizabeth Damani who lives at 10A said she was grateful to Fortuin who helped her get a job. Damani said she hoped Fortuin succeeds in her attempt to assist the families at Westdene 10A.
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Llewellyn Josephs is a bodyguard who patrols the Westdene area and will be offering security to the children’s home once it is opened. Josephs said that Fortuin’s initiative faces more dangers that stretch far beyond ordinary security risks.
“You tend to get people in 10A that she’s trying to assist that will be negative towards what she’s doing and [who would] try to damage her reputation,” he explained. Josephs said that it was up to the community to help Fortuin however possible.
Fortuin shared Josephs concerns and said that one of the biggest challenges faced by the organisation is the mindset of some of the parents who show no signs of wanting to improve their way of life. “They view us as trying to close down their home and to take their children from them. So to change that mindset I think that’s a challenge that we constantly face,” Fortuin said.
Fortuin runs the organisation with her three siblings Derek Wykes, Kim Leon, and Rae Israel. The four started the organisation in honour of their father Colin Wykes who loved children. The launch of the children’s home will coincide with the first anniversary of his death.