Christmas gifts for foster children

THERE are children who have very little cheer at Christmas time. It is estimated that about 5percent of children live far below the poverty line.

THERE are children who have very little cheer at Christmas time. It is estimated that about 5percent of children live far below the poverty line.

There are many who fall between the cracks and are never officially heard from again.

Those who are lucky are fostered by caring adults. But these adults also need a helping hand.

Mama Angel, at the request of Johannesburg Child Welfare, gave Christmas presents to foster children in the Johannesburg area.

June Ruvando, a social worker in charge of the fostered children, said: "Thank you, it will be a lovely Christmas for my foster children. They will be very happy."

Ruvando and Yandisa Mahlangeni work in the Foster Care and Family Reunification department. "We do the supervision after the court process. We place abandoned children and orphans in foster care or in orphanages.

"We keep in touch with the children and their carers to see that children are treated well. There are some foster parents who may decide they no longer want to care for these children. Then we have to look around for another family or carer to take the children," Ruvando said.

The children are cared for from birth until they turn 18. The lucky ones live with their foster parents and are absorbed into the family.

"We do psychological assessments before we place the children. Problems crop up when neighbours say nasty things to the children.

"Other children cannot cope with the idea that they are orphans or were abandoned by their biological parents. They act out because they feel unloved.

"We place them with families and some, the very problematic ones, go to industrial schools. We are their friends, teachers, guides and parents when necessary."

Ruvando said their caseload was too much and they covered a wide area as the system did not have enough social workers.

"We appreciate the contributions to our children who need love and care. Some, because of early nasty experiences, have never had love. With these gifts, even if they were abandoned, they will know that someone out there cares for them."

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