Heaven’s Nest Child and Recreation Centre is a haven for little South Africans aged six months to 8 years of age. The team offers a caring and nurturing environment for up to 15-18 children at a time. Many of whom have been abused, neglected and suffering from HIV and Aids. At this temporary care home, children are in a loving environment, where they are provided with healthy meals and security until they can be reunited with their families, fostered or adopted.

Heaven’s Nest ensures that children get basic education, health care, counselling, and play therapy. This cannot be possible without help from qualified and registered child and youth care workers. Through the team’s love and compassion, children’s self-confidence can grow enough for them to be reintegrated into society successfully. The team aims to break the toxic cycle of abandonment so that children can age into well-adjusted, happy adults.

Zama Mbele, the facility manager of Heaven’s Nest, knows that the first few years of life has a substantial impact on an individual’s future. Her humble beginnings led her to follow her calling. Opportunities were few and far between during her early years. She states, that “if you finished matric you were a hero in the community. I never had an opportunity to pursue formal higher education until I was 35. Back then, we had to work twice as hard to be where we are now.” Now, 17 years later, Zama is fully qualified and still passionate about social services.

Her academic background, and various experience in working with children and the insights she gained, while working as a deputy chairperson at the NACCW in the Western Cape Region, enable her to help the community to the best of her ability. Striving to improve the lives of neglected children is what fuels Zama’s passion.

Beautiful memories are made when there is hope for a new future.

“My fondest event happened recently. When I took up my position at Heaven’s Nest, I learned that children were not authorised to go on outings. I quickly requested that our social worker must get an authorisation for us to take them out. After getting the go-ahead, we went on our first outing to the beach. It was one little girl’s first time seeing the beach, and she exclaimed: “Aunty, look at the big bath!” That moment will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Facing challenges is part of living in South Africa. It is what we make of these difficulties that determine the future.

“Challenges are there and will always be there. In South Africa, we need a progressive, pro-active government that is willing to address youth issues before they manifest into uncontrollable social ills. Currently, the challenges we are facing are youth unemployment, femicide and contact crimes among others. This results in a high number of young people becoming destitute and homeless. The failure of our government to address the challenges of youth transitioning from care into society contributes to youth homelessness in South Africa.

The way forward in South Africa relies on politicians. Unfortunately, until politicians practice social justice, there is no way forward. Funding to address these social ills is scarce. Red tapes imposed on organisations by people who sit in big offices kills NGOs. Organisations are dying a slow death and the daily ills remain unaddressed.

However, we keep on trying to overcome our difficulties. We knock until someone opens, patiently and persistently. Individual challenges can be conquered – if you tell your story to someone who cares to listen. Always maintain your empathy and compassion for humankind. Be resilient and know that every little bit goes a long way, especially to someone who has nothing.”

Heaven’s Nest has its own set of daily challenges. However, together the team can overcome them.

“At Heaven’s Nest, we aim to change the future of young South Africans by reaching out to every child in need through our temporary placement and aftercare programmes. We don’t believe in institutionalisation. We are determined to find workable solutions to re-integrate children with their families where they can experience pure love. If you teach a child from a young age how to live in peace and harmony, they grow up teaching justice and fairness to others. As an organisation, we strive to teach our children that no matter how badly you have dealt with the blows of life, someone is always willing to listen and support you.”

Look to the future, positively, and you will find hope for tomorrow.

“Life is too short to worry about things you cannot change. If life gives you an opportunity, grab it with both your hands and make every moment shine. But above all else, be kind and compassionate to others!”

Find out more about Heaven’s Nest Child Care and Recreation Centre, contribute or get in touch via their website: https://heavensnest.org.za/