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Robus’s mission is to keep child care centre running

For three years, Larnè Robus has been on a mission to keep the doors of the East London Child and Youth Care Centre open by raising R70000 each month.
Robus, 29, started fundraising for the centre in June 2015 – just three months after joining it. This was after she was told there was no money to pay her while the centre, which looks after 105 children, faced the possibility of closure. But the social worker, who says she knows each child by name, could not sit back and do nothing.
“I had to network and contact the relevant people to help us which they did, because if you ask, people will give. I am a mom to these kids and seeing them [children] flourishing, smile, gaining weight and receiving the love they deserve, makes me so happy,” she said.
The organisation, which has been running for 94 years, takes care of orphaned, vulnerable, malnourished, sexually abused and HIV/Aids children who are placed by social workers.
The youngest they have in their care is a baby boy only seven months old.
The centre has two safe houses with 60 staff members. One house is in Beacon Bay for the children with special needs and the main house is at Glen Stella.
“We have changed their lives, their lives have improved. We have churches coming here so their spiritual life is also taken care of,” said Robus.
A Grade 11 pupil who arrived at the centre as an infant is very fond of aunty Naynay, as they affectionately call Robus, and would one day like to be a social worker just like her.
“She treats us very nicely. She never shouts at us and we can talk to her anytime. She helps us with whatever issues we have and she always advises us on how to approach the matter and she motivates us with our schoolwork,” she said.
One of the centre’s many projects, Isibindi, focuses on developing communities and takes care of 856 families in Ncerha, Overton and Fort Grey informal settlement. They care for identified families and take care of 1008 children over and above those who permanently stay at the centre. They also assist with tertiary applications and bursaries for Grade 12 pupils.
They offer services such as medical care, emotional and psychological wellbeing, recreational and educational needs, skills development and physical needs to the communities.
Some of the children arrive at the centre with tuberculosis and the staff is at risk but Robus says they cannot treat these any differently from the rest. A doctor visits once a week.
“They all deserve to be loved, kissed and comforted at night when they cry, that does not mean we are not going to do that if they are diagnosed with a certain disease,” she said.
While Rumdel Construction, ISG, ELVIN, Sundale, Blue Ribbon, Blue Lagoon Hotels and NG Churches are regular sponsors for the centre, Robus said funding remains a challenge
“Because of our sponsors we don’t have to buy groceries anymore. There are so many other players in this organisation. Our kids go to schools all over East London so we spend a lot of money on petrol. Whenever we can during the holidays we take them to an outing. They deserve so much more than what I am giving them, they didn’t ask for any of this. These outings are just to give them a glimmer of hope and maybe replace the one horrible memory they might have with a good one,” she said.
The centre’s manager Vuyelwa Mahlahla described Robus as a loving and caring person who loves her job.
“When she started she was a social worker and but now she is the fundraiser. It wasn’t her job but when she saw the challenges she jumped in. She is always willing to help,” said Mahlahla.
Regardless of the law saying that a centre can only keep a child up to the age of 18 the centre keeps them until they 21 on condition they are still at school or at a tertiary institution. — lisekhom@dispatch.co.za..

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