Early in 2013 Sarah Tompkins’s daughter, Isabelle came to SA and Samara Private Game Reserve, with friends and family to celebrate her 21st Birthday. During this joyous occasion Sarah organised a special visit to Vuyani Safe Haven in Graaff-Reinet to deliver educational toys and clothing she collected in the UK for Vuyani.
Martine and Edouard de Royeres were part of this group visiting Vuyani and they were touched by a young boy, Lemmie, and decided to assist Vuyani in helping Lemmie to reach his fullest potential. Lemmie has special needs which has the permanent effect on his life that he won’t ever be an independent adult taking responsibility for his own life and working in the open market.
The de Royeres took the initiative to start the Friends of Samara Trust Fund for Lemmie which enabled Vuyani to assist Lemmie with much needed special attention. He was assessed thoroughly for the first time and we knew with more certainty that he won’t benefit from being sent away to a Special Needs School. With the assistance of a competent Occupational therapist we started working to support Lemmie to reach the highest possible physical independence.
Vuyani Child and Youth Care Centre’s only Male Child Care Worker and also the designated Driver taking all our children to school daily, supported Lemmie at Vuyani to be able to be more independent in his personal hygiene. He assisted Lemmie in small tasks like cleaning the yard every day and responsibilities in a vegetable garden and Vuyani’s garden. Khanyisa Day Care Centre assisted in the social aspect by providing Lemmie with a safe place where he could form relationships with his peers outside of the home.
All the while Vuyani’s Social Worker, Hildegarde Brummer, was working on a Developmental and Permanent plan, not only for Lemmie, but also for his siblings, who unfortunately have special needs themselves and also won’t be able to live independently as grown-ups.
Since 2011 their family in the Western Cape kept on reaching out to them by phoning and inviting them for holidays. The siblings visited this family during every July and December holidays since the end of 2012. The Social worker in their town was part of the whole process and helped the family to be able to welcome these 3 children to their family. She also organised a sheltered work for Lemmie and Maggie where they would be able to feel that they are worthwhile and contributing towards their upkeep, but not feel overwhelmed by responsibilities that they are not able to live up to.
On the 31st of March 2015 Vuyani Safe Haven, together with Khanyisa Day Care Centre and the Sheltered Workplace of Graaff-Reinet, bid farewell to the Haarhoff siblings – Maggie, Lemmie and Priscilla. We all had such mixed feelings . . . hope for their future, knowing we’re going to miss their special personalities and trepidation for the weight of responsibility that their Caledon family is now ready to take on.