The experience provided by Kidshaven and facilitated by the Benevola website has been invaluable. The family orientated housing provided by Kidshaven is incredible. Rainbow, the house where I resided throughout my stay, consists of children from 3 to 20 years old, all of whom treat each other like sisters. It is incredibly impressive that at such a young age, they are placed in a routine which includes chores around the house as well as homework time. At 6.30 on the dot, the tv goes off and everyone sits around a large table for ‘dining hall’ – my favorite time of the day and something which has dissipated in the Western world with the epidemic of tv dinners. It is so enjoyable to hear the girls swap stories about their day and ‘Mum’ get’s to hear how her girls are getting on at school.
The role that Kidshaven plays in the lives of these children is priceless but at an organizational level there is a lack of communication between staff which rendered my role more difficult than necessary at times which needs redress, although did aid me in cultivating my communication skills. Kidshaven has managed to re-create the ups and downs of family life for these children. I have seen them being told off, hugged, disappointed in and proud of, all the stable necessary elements to a healthy path towards adulthood. Unfortunately, many of whom are HIV positive, have suffered sexual abuse at a young age or have been diagnosed with TB, this path is made all the more challenging – rendering the attention and care they are receiving at Kidshaven all the more vital.
On a personal level, it has been incredibly eye opening to experience the realities of a different culture and race and I am incredibly sad to leave all of the wonderful children and incredible members of staff who treat them as their own. To some it would seem a little insane to go half way across the world in favor of cold showers and an almost constant stomach ache as a result of the change in diet… Well, the laughter and vitality of the people I have met along the way has more than outweighed those issues and I have been left with a special place in my heart for all of these children and I am grateful to Kidshaven for affording me such an opportunity that will continue to positively shape my outlook on the world and encourage me to instigate change.