When significant numbers of children were orphaned as a result of the big flu epidemic of 1918, the Dutch Reformed Church in the then province of Natal decided to establish a children's home to accommodate the orphans of deceased members of the church.
The home started with six children in 1919 and over the years the number of children grew among other reasons due to the worldwide economic crisis of the 1930s, severe droughts resulting in the collapse of many farming communities and the devastating impact of the World War II.
The building complexes were expanded accordingly and at the moment the home is registered to accommodate 150 children between the ages of 3-18 years. The Home reflects the full spectrum of the diversity of South Africa. Children in need are removed from their place of stay and placed in the Greytown Children’s Home care by order of the court. Although the home is run according to Christian principles, children are accepted irrespective of sex, race or belief.
What started out as a small orphanage for children of deceased members of the Dutch Reformed Church and the subsequent human tragedies in the world had grown into the present facilities. The expansion of the facilities can now be viewed as a visionary decision which fulfils an indispensable role as safe refuge for the shadow children of our modern society.
The mission of Greytown Children’s Home is to provide physical, psychological, cultural, educational and spiritual care for children, and to prepare them for possible reunification with their parents, or foster placement, as well as for adult life. The home is thus an institution that provides total care for disadvantaged children from all over KwaZulu-Natal. The children are Greytown Children’s Home’s biggest asset and the aim is to afford them opportunities to heal the wrongs of the past, change their lives for the better, and develop them to become main stream citizens who will be financially independent and contribute towards the creation of wealth for all the people of South Africa.
To execute the mission and objectives the Home follows a holistic care programme where the needs of children are individually addressed by the director, social workers, child care workers, medical staff and other support structures. The programmes are on-going and are adjusted when necessary. The goals set are achievable and are realistic in accordance to the child’s abilities. Time wise the programmes run for the whole of the child’s stay at the home.
Greytown Children’s Home’s children are accommodated in seven houses on the premises (the junior children’s house has 18 children per house and the senior boy’s and girl’s house has 30). The home accommodates children living with HIV/AIDS as well as other disabilities. The Greytown Children’s Home’s children receive three balanced nutritious meals per day, attend school, participate in sport at school level and receive all necessary medical attention.
The biggest challenges for the Greytown Children’s Home are to secure sufficient funding to continue its operations and to have skilled and dedicated personnel to care for the children. Every challenge poses an opportunity to develop a unique strategy to overcome it. The Greytown Children’s Home has established a broad base of regular donors to cover the shortfall between the government subsidy paid for the children in the home’s care and the actual expenditure incurred to provide the level of care offered by the home. The organisation is situated in a small rural town; recruiting skilled staff can be a problem.
The lack of certain skills is however overcome by in-house training programmes and the attendance of training courses by the personnel. It also contributes to skills development in the country.
The Greytown Children’s Home has not received any awards for the services that it renders, but sets a higher standard than the required minimum for food, education, medical and therapeutic services as well as accommodation. The result is that:
- The Greytown Children’s Home’s children are healthy and absenteeism from school is minimised;
- The quality of life of the children coming from the most depressing circumstances possible has improved dramatically, the same results are achieved with children on chronic medication;
- The home’s children accept the opportunity to change, heal the wrongs of the past and create a future for themselves;
- The balanced nutritional meals also have a positive effect on the academic achievements of children and some children even excel at school;
- Many of the children have also achieved great success on the sports field;
- The home’s children held leadership positions for the past number of years. For 2013, one of its children was elected as a prefect at high school while two primary school children were elected as head boy at their schools. For 2012, the Greytown Children’s Home’s entire grade 12’s passed their examinations and a number of them are furthering their studies; and
- The Greytown Children’s Home former children can be found in all walks of life.
The Greytown Children’s Home is thus highly respected by the communities within which it operates, is regarded as beacons of hope for the destitute and the beginning of a new life for the Home’s children.
The Greytown Children's Home thus provides a safe haven for disadvantaged and vulnerable children. The large number of children placed in the Greytown Children’s Home care and the positive results that emanate from their stay is proof of the necessity to continue the service that is rendered to the children.
To view Greytown Children's Home in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.