Jess Smit visits a Crestholme crisis home whose warmth extends way beyond its boundary wall.
The afternoon is in full swing when I arrive at HOLAH (House of Love and Hope). Toddlers are bouncing on the trampoline, children are making peanut butter sandwiches in the kitchen, and the new puppy, Hank, is being passed from lap to lap. And this is exactly the environment that founders Kim Brown and Leanne Lorrance had hoped to create – a loving and relaxed safe haven for abandoned and orphaned babies and special-needs children that is distinct from an institutional setting.
When Leanne and Kim began volunteering at a baby house ten years ago, they had no idea that their journey would lead them to open their own unique home in Crestholme. After being screened as crisis parents and registering as a crisis home, they received a phone call for their first placement – a little boy named Soldier who they would go on to adopt. They now have three adopted children – Soldier, Ryder and Vera-May – and have cared for over 100 babies and children over the years.
While the ultimate goal is reunification or adoption, the unfortunate reality is that many of the children at HOLAH may never be adopted due to the severity of their disabilities or their slightly older age. However, Kim and Leanne believe that every child deserves a family and they see it as their responsibility to provide this – whether a temporary stepping stone or, in some cases, a forever home and lifelong care.
With this in mind, renovations are underway to revamp the dedicated special-needs house to allow for wheelchair access. Staff are also trained to provide in-house therapy. The property even has its own little animal farm with goats, pigs, ponies, bunnies and chickens – an asset for those children who are unable to leave regularly.
Alongside HOLAH and Charity Hop Shop in Glenwood, Kim and Leanne manage numerous other community outreach projects under the umbrella of Likhon iThemba (a registered charity). Among these are Vikela Baby Saver, a baby safe on the boundary wall of Charity Hop Shop that allows for safe abandonment, and BOP (or Bowl of Plenty). BOP has established and supports three “gogo” kitchens, between them providing 120 children with a healthy meal every day.
As the afternoon sun dips behind the huge Albizia tree in the playground, it is clear that HOLAH’s roots are as deep within the community as they are within the 16 children who currently call it home.
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7 small ways you can help to change the lives of HOLAH’s children:
• Volunteer your time: Even if it’s only a few hours a month, helping hands are most welcome. It’s best to call ahead so that Kim and Leanne can advise on the best time to suit the children’s routine.
• Grocery donations: If you’re able to load a few extra groceries for HOLAH into your trolley during your monthly shop, they’ll certainly be well received. A wish list is available on request – however, items such as wipes, snacks, toiletries, healthy treats and nappies (including small adult nappies for the special needs children) are always needed.
• Support Charity Hop Shop: This popular eclectic charity shop in a beautiful old Glenwood home provides much-needed funds for HOLAH and projects under the Likhon iThemba umbrella. Shop for bargain treasures or donate your pre-loved clothes, sports equipment and household items.
• Fund a future: This allows you to personally support one or more of HOLAH’s precious special-needs children or babies on a monthly basis.
• Sign up for a monthly direct debit: Donate every month and your funds will be used to help cover monthly expenses such as school fees, therapy, rent, water, electricity and transport. Every bit helps!
• Corporate sponsorship: Follow the lead of Just Flour, who pay the salary of one of Likhon iThemba’s dedicated staff members. Likhon iThemba is BEE-certified and registered.
• Home improvements: From astro turf for the play area to a special swing and children’s road, there are plenty of future projects, big and small, in the pipeline – each guaranteed to make the space extra enjoyable for HOLAH’s babies and children. Consider donating your skills or sponsor a special project.