She added that many adoptions and unification processes were also not able to take place because the necessary government departments were closed for over six months of the lockdown. “Before a child gets adopted, goes for fostering or goes to extended family, they have to undergo a Form 30 application (sexual offences clearance) and that office was closed for most of the lockdown – it is still only working on a part-time basis one year later.”
The lockdown has also been tough for a few of the children who would regularly attend school. Adjusting to home-learning was a big change for them.
Van Dongen is, however, thankful that all of the extra health and safety precautions which the organisation adopted, are proving to be fruitful. These precautions included going into a voluntary lockdown and having all of its staff members stay on-site for the first six months of lockdown. “We went into a voluntary lockdown on 8 March and we have not come out since. Thankfully, we have not had a single positive Covid-19 case at Hearts of Hope.”
All of the staff has however tried to make every day a fun one for each of the learners. In April last year, the team hosted a fun-filled Easter egg hunt for the children. “We have just tried to do as many activities for them to enjoy.”
The community is encouraged to get involved with Hearts of Hope in any way possible. Interested in donating? The team is looking for donations of any long-life food or fresh fruit and vegetables. Contact Deborah van Dongen on 082 458 2677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org