Melanie Burke, the Chairman of StreetSmart SA, is undertaking a 120 km pilgrimage on the Camino Francés in Northern Spain this month, in an effort to raise awareness and R50 000 for the upliftment of homeless children in South Africa.
Melanie has lived between South Africa and Spain for the past 5 years. It was also 5 years ago that the collaboration with Cape Camino started, to do an annual StreetSmart Pilgrimage in Cape Town. This was the beginning of Melanie's love for putting one foot in front of the other while enjoying the majestic beauty of the Cape and stilling her mind through the connection with nature. This experience, and an invitation from a friend, inspired her to walk 120km of the Camino Francés pilgrim route from Logroño to Burgos, in Northern Spain.
“Having only ever walked two days at a time before, a week-long hike sounds like a scary challenge, but an achievable one too. Being away from home and work commitments will give me the time to decompress and follow my thoughts wherever they want to go, something I have not made time to do recently. I expect the physical and mental requirements may be difficult for me so I hope that the simple rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other will focus me,” says Melanie.
HOME FROM HOME
Home from Home provides supported and supervised foster care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in small family homes of no more than six children, in their own communities.
Eddie is four years old. Born to a mom who couldn’t care for him, she put him in the care of an informal ‘caregiver’ when he was less than a year old. He was one of nine children living with this lady, in two shacks which were attached to the house she lived in. The shacks were filthy, unsafe, unhygienic and cold. When Eddie and the other children came to the attention of social workers, he was removed immediately because of concerns for his health and safety- they thought he might die if he was left there any longer. He was taken to go and live in a baby sanctuary where he remained for several months.
Kidstop’s focus is to connect with the children and youth, through street outreach and the Drop-in Centre, where the children participates in a variety of activities giving each child the opportunity to develop his or her own individual talent.
The children find a safe environment where they can learn informally and get motivated to prepare for mainstream schooling. These children are placed into mainstream schools with great success.
BecomingKids functions as one of the projects under Stellumthombo, a registered NPC with PBO status. BecomingKids is an early intervention programme focusing on high risk children living in the Cloetesville area in Stellenbosch. This programme addresses the needs of such children through a holistic approach that focuses on the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of each individual child and has a specific focus on mentorship and peer learning.
School of Hope is a registered special-needs secondary school that provides a second chance at education for at-risk, vulnerable children and youth, that includes former street children, rehabilitated drug addicts, and children from abusive, neglectful homes. There is no requirement of an entrance exam, only the prerequisite that students demonstrate a willingness to learn. They offer computer application technology (CAT) as a compulsory subject to ensure that every learner leaves the school in possession of knowledge that they can use in the current information age and in their future career.
PEN-Streetwise Projects reaches out to orphaned, vulnerable and street children, reconciling them where possible, with their families. Alternatively, children who do not have access to family, parents or caring adults, are offered care and support at the Leratong Child and Youth care Center.
PEN Streetwise Project received R15,000 from StreetSmart Pretoria, towards a social worker salary.