Johannesburg – Despite some challenges faced by children in foster care, for 17-year-old Ntombi Zitha*, getting an education is her priority and she is determined to make it against all odds.
Ntombi, who comes from Soweto, has been living with foster parents for the past three years following her mother’s death. Her dream is to become a Chartered Accountant. She is also passionate about encouraging other children in the same situation not to give up but study hard in order to achieve their goals.
She admitted that sometimes, it was painful not to get the things she wanted as there were other children in the house.
“If there are five children in the house and you want something, you end up not getting it as your needs are not a priority. However, I’m thankful because I get everything I need for school, including uniform and stationery because that is the most important thing for me… getting an education.
“Being in foster care is just the beginning for me, there are greater things ahead for me. I am going to pass matric with flying colours and achieve my dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant,” said Ntombi, who is currently doing Grade 9.
Ntombi was among the children who joined Ministers for Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini and Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, during the launch of Child Protection Week held on Monday at Abraham Kriel Childcare centre.
Along with other children, she got an opportunity to ask the ministers some questions regarding their welfare and the proper channels to go through for assistance as orphaned children.
Statistics also show that 512 763 children are in foster care and their primary caregivers receive the Foster Care Grant.
Dlamini said as part of Child Protection Week, the department will embark on public awareness activities to popularise the new Adoption Strategy. She urged anyone who was thinking of taking the first step to adopt or foster a child to visit their local social workers or welfare organisations to find out more about the process.
“We encourage individuals and families to think about the great rewards that fostering or adopting a child can bring. We urgently need more foster care parents and adoptive parents to provide safe and loving homes for the growing number of orphans and vulnerable children, some of which are unable to live with their own families,” Dlamini said.
She said Child Protection Week provides government with the opportunity to ensure that children are able to exercise their constitutional rights and that their young lives are filled with love, peace, care and prosperity.
Xingwana emphasized the need to strengthen collective efforts against child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
She said the department will during the week focus on the challenges facing children in child headed households and ensure that these children access the various services that government has made available for them, including free education through enrolment in the no fee schools, social support through child support or foster care grants and various health programmes essential for survival of children.
“There are a number of activities planned by various government departments, provincial governments and non-governmental organisations during this period to increase community awareness and highlight the plight of children in our community. We will be visiting some of the child headed households in Northern Cape on 4 June,” Xingwana said.
This year’s Child Protection Week is held under the theme ‘Working Together to Protect Children’. – Gabi Khumalo, BuaNews
*Name has been changed