Little Angels Home is a care facility for children who have severe disabilities. All of them are in wheelchairs, experience daily epileptic fits, and have little to no communication abilities. Many of their children come from horrid circumstances, and are placed into Little Angels’ care by the state, as there is no one to care for them. A team of dedicated staff, medical professionals and the board of volunteers work continually to give these young South Africans the best possible future. Together they make a difference in the lives of these 17 children.

Care is given lovingly and patiently, 24/7. When children arrive at Little Angels Home, after their initial assessment, the necessary steps are taken to improve their physical and emotional well-being. All of them blossom and enjoy the daily routine, which includes singing, physical therapy and eating nutritious meals.

The team knows that they “can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” With this in mind, loving, compassionate care is given to each child and this environment helps them to be the best they can be.

Karin Blanckenberg, Secretary and board member of Little Angels, emphasises how important it is to keep your focus on the good in the world. Helping others began naturally, without her thinking about her calling in life. “Looking back on my life, I can see that I was always drawn to a kind of work in which I could support and help others, and see them grow. The choices I made led me to where I am today.”

Swiss-born Karin came to South Africa when she was only 22. Little did she know that she’d fall in love with the country, its people and its brilliant sunshine. At first, charity work had nothing to do with her big move. She arrived as a karate teacher and now, almost 30 years later, she’s happily settled in SA as a mother of two and part of the Little Angels team.

“I like South Africa. It’s an inspirational country. In many ways, you can do whatever you want and possibly be successful. Entrepreneurs in Europe are very restricted due to too many regulations and rules. Here in Africa, there are countless opportunity to grow, to do things, to expand, to create and build your own business. This will build a better South Africa for everyone. Unfortunately, too many people in SA are still just trying to survive and put food on the table for their families.

The low level of education is problematic. We have to start with children and their education. They will be the future, but they need schooling to reach a better position in life and to lift South Africa to the great country it can be.

With this understanding, most donations by the big funders are given to organisations that support this aim. As most of our children are not able to be part of the normal academic curriculum and could never be part of the working force, generating funding and support for our organisation is becoming increasingly difficult.

Yet, Little Angels Home still forms a vital part of the community. For many families, the intensive care these children need is simply too much, as well as having to deal with social stigmas in their own community.  As our children are severely disabled and need constant care we have a huge task at hand to keep our doors open. In order to generate funds, we have to raise awareness of the plight and that operations like ours are worthwhile.

Disability is also pushed to the side. Communities do not want to deal with the reality that we have adults and children living with disabilities in our midst. It is something that is rejected, like old age. We have become a youth-centred society, wanting to hide age as well as our disabled. This must stop.”

Working towards a more harmonious community is possible. However, to get there, we need to nurture a culture of understanding.

“We need to teach our children how to resolve conflict. But how do you resolve conflict?

Having the emotional maturity to understand others and why things happen in the way that they do, and to deal with issues appropriately is vital. Too many people put their defences up too quickly; not being ready to listen, understand or move forward together. There is a mentality of “I need to win; you need to lose”. It happens in a range of environments, from relationships to families, to business, to countries”. Without communication, there can be no resolution.”

Little Angels Home brings change; one child, one family at a time.

“Change happens in helping these families, and of course the children themselves. Having said that, many times children come from horrendous neglect, where they were undernourished, full of fleas and sores. These children do not always come from loving families, hence the Department of Health places them in our care. But hopefully, at the same time, this can create opportunities for their families to take better care of their other children and go to work.

The reason lies in time. Disabled children are entirely dependent on others and need a lot of physical and medical care. Our children now live in a well-cared, loving environment. Here they are fed, washed, cared for and receive many of the basics children living in good homes can take for granted: they are warm, they have clothes, they are fed, they are loved and cared for. These things are not always a given.”

South Africa must keep on moving forward. There is a way to a happier, healthier society.

“To keep Little Angels running, and rallying for funding is a huge job for the team. But even when things are tough and the going is rough, working as a team is what pulls us through time and time again. Our efforts and continued striving to improve our home and the lives of the children make Little Angels what it is today.”

See the good, understand the bad, look ahead and work towards a more harmonious community.

“I think that humans have a natural inclination to hope. We never seem to give up, striving for more and upwards all the time. Remember that even when you find yourself in a difficult situation that it will change. Change is certain, inevitable, and part of life. It is how you deal with those times that matter.

When you find yourself in a rough patch, is it truly that bad?

Most people tend to focus on the negatives in South Africa and miss all the wonderful, amazing things happening right under our noses. There is much good happening daily – focus and give energy to that. It doesn’t matter how bad something is, there is an equal amount of good happening at the same time. You choose what you want to see. Organisations like Little Angels are only a few of many greats.

If you have lost sight of what you do have, put everything in perspective. Do you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, do you have food and a loving family? If you can say yes to those basics, then you have more than many others in the world. Stay focused and grateful for the positives in your life, even the smallest things. Have faith. It’s just a rough patch and it will get better.

Go and help. Do something – anything. You don’t have to be part of an organisation. You can help within your capacity, ability and field. You don’t need money – a word, a hug, an idea can make a difference. Help one person at a time. Work within your immediate environment and it will have a ripple effect.

But if you don’t have the energy or feel like deserve love, how are you going to give love to somebody else? Everything starts with being at peace with yourself. Only then can you help. To look after yourself is your first responsibility.

Harmony starts within yourself. Take care of yourself, and then the community will benefit.”

Find out more about Little Angels Home, get in touch or donate via their website here: https://www.littleangelshome.co.za/donate.