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Special kids melt former president's heart

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Special kids melt former president's heart

by Esther Lewis
29 Aug 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Former president FW de Klerk in tears is indeed a rare sight. Yet he could not hold them back when he donated money to the Woodside Special Care Centre in Rondebosch East.

The former president, on behalf of the FW De Klerk Foundation, gave R216 000 to the centre on Thursday. This will cover the costs of caring for six children for one year.

The centre, has been operating for the past 31 years. It is home to 83 children and young adults. About 20 of them are wards of the state. While these children are subsidised by the government, it still costs the centre R3 000 per month, per child.

"This is a cause close to my heart. I will be back and follow the progress closely," said an emotional De Klerk.

He said two other institutions who would receive donations were the Alta Du Toit Centre in Bellville and the School for the Blind in Worcester.

One of the reasons the Woodside centre was chosen as a beneficiary was because of the enormous need for specialised care. The children, who are severely and profoundly disabled, require 24-hour care. They need constant professional nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy intervention.

Hilary Halladay, the centre's director, said that the cash injection meant an awful lot to them, but even more was needed.

"We always have room for more. We always have needs here," said Halladay.

She explained that most of their children's parents made contributions. But the centre houses many children who have been abandoned, orphaned or removed from unfit parents by the courts.

For 20 of the children, there are no financial contributions from families. So there is always a need for fundraising to continue caring for them. Halladay encouraged the community to come forward and meet the children.

"The more community involvement, the better. They are special children, and shouldn't be hidden away," said Halladay.

-- Anyone who wants to visit the Woodside Special Care Centre, or make any contributions, can phone (021) 696-2811.

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