Friday, December 18, 2009

Kids2Kids 2009 - What a Success! thank you

Without YOU guys, this could not be possible. We managed to donate 218 gifts for children this Christmas, covering 5 children's homes and safe houses. Kids2Kids started out as a pilot project and we have accomplished an amazing feat this year.

It could not have been done without your dedication to finding the uniqueness and identifying the individuality of children who are less privileged than our own.

A Sincere thank you and well done.

For more detials and pictures, please log on to

Sunday, December 13, 2009

South Africa tackles World Cup Child Trafficking Fears

By Courtney Brooks (AFP)

JOHANNESBURG — Lesotho-born Thato was brought to South Africa at age three, by a woman she knew simply as "granny". Five years later, her "granny" sold her into sexual slavery. The woman who bought her was running a sex ring that police are still investigating to find out how many children were involved.

   It's a scenario that South African authorities and child welfare campaigners are already working to prevent during the football World Cup next year, which authorities fear could draw in child traffickers hoping to cash in on the fanfare around the games.

   Thato, now 10, was rescued just three months ago by a social worker who brought her to Amazing Grace Children's Home, which houses 79 children outside Johannesburg.

   The home's founder Grace Mashaba, who explained Thato's story, said her parents probably had no idea that the "granny" would sell their daughter.
   "That 'granny' doesn't have children, so she keeps asking people, 'Can you give me your child so she can stay with me?' She has a good house, so people trust in her," Mashaba said.

   Thato at least was able to speak about her abuse. Another 10-year-old Lesotho girl rescued from the sex ring is too traumatised to talk, Mashaba said.

An estimated 247,000 children in South Africa now work in exploitive labour, including prostitution, according to the Child Protection Action Plan for the World Cup, created by government?s department of social development.

Campaigners worry that the problem will grow with the influx of tourists next year, especially as South African schools will be closed during the World Cup, which runs from June 11 to July 11, meaning many children could be left unattended during the day.

   "Child trafficking is a big concern because of the big economic pull of the event," said Stephen Blight, the head of child protection in South Africa for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

"All the fans and visitors spending money will create a whole network that criminal networks will want to benefit from."

The government worries that child trafficking could increase as poor South Africans struggle for a slice of the four billion dollars the World Cup is expected to generate.

Parliament is due to consider a trafficking law early next year, aiming to prevent children from getting recruited to beg or hawk souvenirs on the streets, or more worryingly forced into prostitution.

Rebecca Pursell, a social worker for Kholisa Management Services, a child advocacy group, said the school holidays could add to the problem for children.
   "They will be loitering around without much activity, which places them at high risk not only of trafficking but of sexual exploitation," she said.

In addition to cross-border trafficking from Zimbabwe, Mozambique or Lesotho, many poor South Africans will leave rural areas to look for work in the cities during the games, she said.

   Mariam Khokhar, of the UN's International Organization for Migration, said prevention campaigns are already underway, including theatre programmes in rural areas to educate people about the danger of trafficking.

   "Criminal elements often tend to exploit such events, and there will be an increase in criminality which could possibly include trafficking," she told AFP.

For Thato, she will live at the Amazing Grace home for now. Many of children stay at the home until they finish high school, Mashaba said. Most of them have been abandoned, orphaned or abused. Those who have been trafficked from other countries can be repatriated, but often choose to stay, Mashaba said.
   "Even their own families, they do sell those girls. It's the people that you know that traffic the children."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cops to set up DNA database for missing kids - by Caryn Dolley - Cape Times 11 December 2009

In a desperate attempt to help find youngsters who go missing, provincial police are trying to set up a national DNA database of children. Officers are also trying to get all cinemas and banks in the Western Cape to air a short video clip showing pictures and details of the 114 children who, as of yesterday, were missing in the province.

And they are also planning to approach all mall managers as well as train and taxi operators to try to get them to distribute pamphlets with the details of those missing.

Police announced these plans as officers continued searching for six-year-old Okuhle and three-year-old Mabaxole Maqhubela, the latest additions to the province's list of missing children. They disappeared in Laingsburg last week on their way from East London to Cape Town by taxi.

Yesterday, during the police's weekly press briefing, provincial visible policing head Robbie Roberts, said missing children were one of the "biggest concerns" in the province.

He said "on a daily basis a lot of children are reported missing" and as of yesterday the provincial total stood at 114 children.  Roberts warned parents not to leave their children alone or let them out of their sight.

"And ask yourself when you put your children in the care of somebody, do you really know that person? Do you really trust that person?"

Roberts urged parents to tag their children, including on the tag the child's name and the parents' contact details, especially when taking their children to a large public area like a beach. "It's unbelievable how many children get lost on a beach in one day," he said.

Roberts said children needed to be taught their home address and parents' cellphone or landline number. "Once recovered, we find it difficult to get this information from children."

He also urged parents to take photographs of their children so they would always have a recent one.

Provincial Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros had therefore tasked Roberts, with the help of a number of NGOs, to come up with a more effective plan to tackle the problem.

In the most recent missing children case, Roberts said officers had been unable to find recent photographs of Okuhle Maqhubela and her brother, Mabaxole. The brother and sister went missing from a petrol station in Laingsburg at midnight last week during a trip from East London to Cape Town, where they would have been reunited with their mother.

Roberts said police in the province would approach the national office to have an identity kit they had created for children, to be distributed in the Western Cape and the rest of the country, approved.
Once filled out and completed, the kit would include details of the child, a recent photograph, his or her fingerprints, a DNA sample, his or her blood type and details of his or her parents.

If approved, Roberts said the kits would be distributed at all cr232ches and schools in the province early next year.

Parents would not have to pay for it and could fill it in voluntarily.

Roberts said a number of organisations were "making money out of missing children" as they were selling identity kits to parents and telling them their child would be put on a database.

"But we don't want the community to pay for us to search for a missing child. It's our job," he said.

Dessie Rechner, founder of the NGO Pink Ladies which helps police with search operations, said she was "extremely excited" about the identity kit and proposed database.

Roberts said "top priority areas" in terms of missing children included Cape Town, George, Nyanga and Claremont.

During the festive season, Roberts said at least 500 extra police officers would be deployed in the province.
When they conducted road- blocks and searched cars they would also hand out missing children pamphlets.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on December 11, 2009

How to keep track of your children - by Mary-Anne Gontsana

Cape Times - 25 November 2009
    "My daughter went missing for one minute, I panicked and when asked to identify her, I went completely blank," says Norah Papanicolaou, founder of a community-based organisation Information Empowers.

   Information Empowers was established in 2001 with the aim of distributing information about child sexual abuse and ways to safeguard children.

   Papanicolaou said: "Not everyone has access to the Internet or can afford books. We are developing workshops and a workbook for children, called CIA Kids because confident, informed and assertive children are less likely to become victims of child predators."

   She said a recent project, the "Smart Kids' Kit" derived from a US-based organisation devoted to preventing crimes against children and assisting in the recovery of missing children.

   The kit is distributed free of charge and guides caregivers on how to keep important information about their children. It includes space for details such as birthmarks, height, age, and photographs.

This article was originally published on page 7 of The Cape Times on November 25, 2009

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