In order to address the harsh realities that exist within South Africa a well-trained, inspired workforce of supportive counsellors is needed to service those people who fall by the wayside of accessible mental health services and make a meaningful social impact. At SACAP we believe that our fieldwork programme is the first step towards empowering our student counsellors. We have partnered with more than 100 NGOs, with a specific focus on those that make a social impact in their community. Our students spend time working at these NGOs, gaining valuable work experience and we would like to acknowledge our amazing partner NGOs through a series of posts featuring their work.
Introduction to Heaven’s Nest
Established in 2004, in Ottery Cape Town, as an initiative of the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Strandfontein and the Fikelela Aids Project, Heaven’s Nest provides emergency care for children who have been neglected, abused or abandoned, including those who are HIV positive.
The centre’s mission is ‘To be a safe place of care and nurturing for some of the projected millions of orphans to emerge from the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other children in need’.
Heaven’s Nest cares for up to 14 children at a time, between the ages of six months and eight years old, offering them a safe and loving home until they can be re-united with their families under improved circumstances, fostered or adopted. To date, the centre has cared for a total of 500 children.
Many of the children have experienced neglect and abuse, which has left deep emotional and psychological scars. Other than providing the children with love, nutritious food, basic education and health care, the centre also provides counselling and play therapy.
With the help of donor support and fundraising, Heaven’s Nest now provide Pre-school education to the children in their care, in their very own dedicated classroom.
As part of the St Francis of Assisi Church, Heaven’s Nest also runs a Community Soup Kitchen every Friday, where they feed around 180 adults and 70 children from the community.
SACAP – an integral part of the therapy programme
Volunteers play a critical role at Heaven’s Nest by assisting the full-time staff and offering Directive and Non-Directive Play Therapy sessions, Counselling and more.
Nine students from the SACAP Cape Town campus have completed their fieldwork component at Heaven’s Nest over the last couple of years. The students are almost solely responsible for all the individual and group therapy sessions that the children living at the home receive.
Heaven’s Nest Clinical Psychologist, Robyn Jacobs says, ‘It is safe to say that without the SACAP counselling students, our home’s therapy programme would not be successful. The students help give the children a voice, process their experiences and learn new skills. They are also a valuable part of the team, and form a link between the staff and children, advocating on the children’s behalf and helping the staff understand why the children might be acting out in certain ways.’
She added, ‘The students have become increasingly confident and sure of their professional skills, while always being willing to learn. They are equipped with a high degree of professional knowledge and skills and make a valuable contribution to the centre. They are able to integrate well into the team and come humbly to the centre to both teach and learn. Our organisation has benefited greatly from its involvement with SACAP and we look forward to many more rewarding endeavours together’.
For further info on how to support them and to find out about volunteering opportunities, visit www.heavensnest.org.za