Caring for children during lockdown is not business as usual for Abraham Kriel

Abraham Kriel Bambanani (AKB) continues to care for vulnerable children and youth despite Covid-19 and the lockdown, but it has not been business as usual.

AKB has been in operation in Greater Johannesburg and the East Rand since 1902.

It normally cares for more than 1 000 children and youth in two children’s homes, seven group homes, four programmes for orphans and vulnerable children and an early childhood development centre.

In April AKB approached a number of donors in the corporate world, who have donated regularly in the past. The majority of them now indicate that they are flooded with requests and cannot help.

Until recently AKB had 600 children and youth in its care programmes in the communities.

Overnight that number increased almost three-fold to 1 774 in these programmes alone.

All the family members with whom the beneficiaries live, are now also dependent on the food parcels distribute by Abraham Kriel.

This meant an immediate additional expense of R172 000 in April.

AKB provides an essential service. People rely on the organisation for their survival.

Under normal conditions, the families of AKB beneficiaries have some means to supplement that which the children receive by way of a daily cooked meal, bread and fruit.

In order to protect both staff and children from infection, AKB stopped the distribution of daily meals and the visits of children to drop-in centres and replaced it with food parcels. These food parcels were supposed to last for the first 21 days of the lockdown.

Halfway through this period, however, the first distress calls started to come through and emergency supplies had to be taken to families in dire need.

Paul Momsen, CEO of AKB, is firm in his belief that circumstances are unusual and the response has to be in line with what the country requires of the organisation now.

“Right now, we have to offer the best that we can. If we need to serve a bigger portion of the community, we will use all the resources and infrastructure that we have to do that to the best of our ability. We are ready to be of service and grateful to be able to provide relief,” said Momsen.

The organisation is geared to handle the lockdown and to do its part in minimising the spread of the virus.

It has 19 houses and a baby unit for children in need of care in children’s homes, where abused, abandoned and neglected children as well as children with special needs live.

They are cared for by child care workers. The organisation has thus far been successful in preventing infection of children and staff.

This has taken an extraordinary effort from management and care staff, who now also have to take responsibility for home schooling of the children.

“The carers are exhausted, but the children are thriving on a programme of activities and the additional household responsibilities in the absence of support staff,” said Momsen.

The organisation now faces a real risk of falling through the cracks when it comes to funding.

In April AKB approached a number of donors in the corporate world, who have donated regularly in the past. The majority of them now indicate that they are flooded with requests and cannot help.

“We understand. The crisis is real. Their help is going to the national bodies that, in turn, may fund smaller NGOs.,” notes Momsen.

The general guideline is that an NGO must have a turnover of less than R5-million and no more than 30 staff members in order to qualify for support.

AKB’s turnover and staff count exceeds that by a significant margin.

“With the greater turnover and more staff members, we can and do achieve more and we can and do reach more beneficiaries,” said Momsen. Yet, donor funding will not be available for AKB’s programmes.

AKB depends on donor support for more than 60 per cent of its annual income. Of this, a major portion is income from corporate donors. Apart from the challenges accessing corporate donor funding, AKB has also had to cancel or postpone a variety of fundraising events in line with social distancing guidelines.

“We are exceedingly grateful to the many individuals who support the organisation generously from their own money. This helps and it is a great encouragement to all.

“However, it cannot replace all the contributions we used to get from corporates in South Africa, which can naturally fund much bigger elements in the budget,” said Momsen.

“We urge decision makers to remember both what the bigger organisations like AKB have to offer, not only during this crisis, but in the long run.”

Visit www.abrahamkriel.org or call Hilda du Toit on 082 8942458 for more information.

Read the original article here: https://bedfordviewedenvalenews.co.za/442026/caring-for-children-during-lockdown-is-not-business-as-usual-for-abraham-kriel/