It is sad to see the rise and fall of good initiatives in a short space of time.
Such is the story of the Child Welfare cluster foster home in High Street.
There was much excitement and enthusiasm about the cluster foster home project in 2010, and after acquiring the property in High Street with the assistance of the provincial government, it took the combined work of tireless volunteers, the sponsorship of local business and private donations to make the home a reality.
There is a list on a wall inside the property bearing testimony to all who contributed towards the project.
The foster home was opened in February 2011, the old house converted it into a home comfortable enough for 12 children and two house mothers.
At first there were only two children and one house mother, but eventually all 12 places were filled after careful vetting by social workers as to which children really needed to live there and would not later be retrieved by a relative showing up on the doorstep. They come from backgrounds of deprivation and abuse, and the foster home was a sanctuary, a place where they could grow up in safety and be loved by their foster mothers, who were also carefully chosen.
One of the key donors to the project was the Nemato Foundation, which maintained ongoing support for the foster home beyond the initial help of many other businesses and individuals.
There were also many work parties to clean up the garden and paint the house, including by the Mormon Church in Port Alfred.
Others had an attachment to the foster home by virtue of proximity. One such person was Delys Eichele, who rented the flat on the property – an additional means of income for Child Welfare.
Eichele became the children’s neighbour and resident “granny” – even the house mothers called her granny. Full of love for the children, she often bought treats for them and hired videos for them to watch – all under the supervision of the house mothers.
Eichele also organised a special Christmas party for the children last year, with the involvement of the Grace and Truth Church. Visitors were treated to poems and songs by the children, some displaying remarkable talent.
These moments were important – that the children had outside contact and were not hidden away from the world.
Now they go to live permanently with their foster mothers in Bathurst. At least we know the Nemato Foundation has an abiding relationship with them, and is an intermediary for locals to continue to support the foster children.
– Jon Houzet