We fiercely protect the privacy of our children, and want to help restore dignity that has been taken from them. As we seek to meet their needs, we also want to advocate and educate about the plight of so many children orphaned in South Africa, experiencing unimaginable trauma and loss.
The following are stories of our children, and the journeys that have brought them to us. As always, their names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Minenhle (name changed to protect privacy)
Some of our youngest girls have been victim to the myth that still plays out in South Africa- that sex with a virgin will cure HIV/AIDS. Before she was a year old, Minenhle was raped. When she came to Acres of Love, she required reconstructive surgery to repair the physical damage that had been caused by her abuse. Her hollow eyes and withdrawn demeanor showed a deeper pain, and we have worked diligently to provide her with therapeutic sessions to address her emotional and social wellbeing. While still reserved, Minenhle loves to play with her sisters, harvest vegetables from the garden, and attend school. More importantly, she has found her smile, and we are pleased with her physical and emotional progress after such horrific abuse.
Dube (name changed to protect privacy)
At 13, Dube had already been the head of his household for three years. When he was 10, his mother threatened to kill him and his three younger brothers, and eventually abandoned them. He was left in charge of three siblings; a 4-year-old brother, and 2-year-old twins, who were unable to walk or even stand properly. They eventually found shelter in an abandoned car, and Dube would kill birds or insects for them to eat. When those were scarce, he would scavenge in a nearby dustbin for old food. Living on the street was incredibly frightening and the boys formed an amazing bond. Social services found the boys and placed the three younger siblings in the care of Acres of Love. They quickly flourished under consistent and proper care, but Dube was placed in an overcrowded home for older boys and did not receive the level of care or attention he needed. Soon his caregiver asked if Dube could come stay at Acres of Love, and we welcomed the opportunity to embrace him. We gave him his own bed, in a room with his twin brothers, and watched him blossom overnight. We were told he didn’t speak, so we were thrilled to hear him speak to us in perfect English. He arrived withdrawn and sad, but quickly became a part of our family.
Dube finally found a safe place where he could experience the life of a child. A place where he could hear how special he was, and how glad we were to be his family. Dube was transformed by unconditional love and acceptance, and has shown us that there is nothing too big for the Lord to restore.
Ntombi (Name changed to protect privacy)
One of our infants, Ntombi, was found locked in a cabinet, after suffering much abuse. She is now a young girl who loves to read, write letters, tell stories, sing, and dance. She will sit on her house mommy’s lap for hours, making up for lost time, but she is learning to swim and blossoming in many other ways.
Sithembile (Name changed to protect privacy)
Due to poor dental care prior to coming to Acres of Love, many of our children require dental and orthodontic work to ensure healthy smiles through adulthood, and self-confidence as they enter the workforce. Sithembile, along with many of our teens, wished for braces. Due to the generosity of The South African Dental Association, a group of local orthodontists have partnered with us to meet our children’s orthodontic needs, pro bono. Sithembile, and many other teens are thrilled to have this luxury, and we are overjoyed to be able to watch their smiles become more confident. This is yet another way we are able to engage our community partners to help provide the highest level of individualized care to the children we serve.