So what does Moira do? And this is when words start to fail me. In the most indefinable way she has a presence that can only be likened to something that is not of this world. Something angelic . She treats children with the utmost respect and dignity and models all of the qualities we would want our children to grow up with. She leads in a way that people naturally want to follow and talks with a quiet wisdom and compassion to every child that enters Kids Haven. She sets a tone that is filled with unconditional love and regard for every child, regardless of their circumstances. She embodies hope in a world that has often just given children a sense of horror. My experience of Moira has been that when I get a phone call about a case that seems as if there is no possible solution, Moira always says “We will try and help”. There is no ego involved in her responses as she knows that this is not about her. It is about a part of herself she will leave behind in all of those that her work at Kids Haven has touched.
I remember a 10 year old boy who was so, in the words of psychiatry and psychology – disturbed. He hurt himself, he hurt others, he was uncontrollable. His mother was considered mentally ill. What was the response of our so-called human rights based State institutions? Well, the school expelled him and said that his mother must home school him. Moira got him into school. The psychiatrists doped him as a method of control as they did not know what to do with him. The psychologist said he was not a therapeutic candidate. What did Moira do? She cared for him. Religious institutions may well have labelled him as possessed. Moira treated him like the angel he could be. Where is he today? He is back in a world that may not understand him and as a result, treat him cruelly. But he is in that world with an experience of what Winicot called “good enough parenting” and as Winicot said, without that experience, we are doomed. Moira and her staff at Kids Haven gave this young man an experience of being cared for well enough. So that when he one day has to care for children of his own, he will have a different experience to draw from and depending on his decision may not be doomed to repeat the well documented cycles of abuse from which he came from. Thereby sparing future generations from what he had to endure.
In our dealing with unaccompanied foreign children in South Africa, who are coming here for a better life – Moira has made these children’s experience of South Africa one that embodies what should be their experience of a country that prides itself on human rights. Sadly, a country that still gets caught up in cruelty of gross and subtle forms of xenophobia. Moira truly believes every child is our child and that it takes a village to raise a child. This village is Kids Haven and its partner non profits and Government Departments.
How does one conclude a speech like this? Amid the horrific circumstances facing our children and a system that is suffering a financial and moral crisis, Moira at times despairing and doubtful, as another figure who was overwhelmed by his task on earth and felt forsaken by his Father, Jesus ultimately knew that this task needed to be completed, not for himself, but for those that he was put here to serve. I consider Moira to be an unsung hero who I would place in the pantheon of philanthropy with Mother Teresa. We know that we work with the vulnerable because we too are vulnerable and this recognition builds strength. Moira lives what Mother Teresa said when asked what we do in the face of overwhelming despair and suffering – she said, just love them. I know that this investment by Moira pays off as she is dearly loved by many.