Bontle Dedicates Her Matric Triumph To Care Workers At Mary Moodley

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By Phetoho Maja 

Children who grow up in Child and Youth Care Centres often grapple with mental health challenges stemming from the trauma and neglect they endured within their families during their formative years.

A recent study by Save the Children South Africa reveals that children in Child and Youth Care Centres represent one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in South Africa and that they are at a greater risk of mental health disorders.

However, this was not the case for 18-year-old Bontle [not her real name to protect her identity], now a former resident at Mary Moodley Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC) in Benoni, Ekurhuleni. This is one of nine facilities run by the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) to provide residential care services to children in need of care and protection.

Bontle, a member of the class of 2023 at Mary Moodley CYCC, achieved success by passing her matric with a bachelor’s entry. She attributes her average 70 percent pass mark to the unwavering support of her Social Workers, Child and Youth Care Workers, and the Head of Institution (HOI), Margaret Malatji. Despite facing hardships from a young age, including the challenge of acquiring an identity document to write her exams, Bontle persevered with the encouragement and assistance of her dedicated support system.

Though she spent only two years at the centre, Bontle, characterised by passion and wisdom, cherished her time and received the vital support any child would desire. Her experience inspired her to aspire to become a Community Development Practitioner, driven by her deep affection for people.

“Our Child and Youth Care Workers were very supportive and strict at the same time. I would not have achieved these results if I continued to stay home in an environment that made me feel vulnerable and hopeless. My matric year was a memorable one, and I also thank my teachers at Davey Secondary School in Daveyton for their support,” she said.

Bontle, who now stays with her aunt in Soweto, has applied to pursue her studies at the University of Johannesburg and has shown gratitude to Care Workers who continue to be supportive in obtaining her a bursary or student financial aid (NSFAS).

Child and Youth Care Worker, Thokozile Mokoena, added that Bontle is a child who is always dedicated to her books and wants to lead in everything that she does.

“We are grateful for her achievement and we hope she will continue to do her best at university. Her story must be an inspiration to those that follow, and we hope she can be awarded a bursary to further her studies,” said Mokoena.

Margaret Malatji, the Head of Mary Moodley CYCC, expressed her pride in witnessing Molokeng’s holistic development in various aspects, including education, emotional well-being, psychological resilience, spiritual growth, and physical health.

“She is naturally intelligent and a role model to many children in the institution. She is respectful and obedient and sometimes can show a lot of anger just like any other child, but as professionals, we know how to handle a child in that situation,” echoed Malatji.

“We made sure she had all the resources she needed to do her schoolwork, including internet and rechargeable lamps to assist during load shedding. Molokeng has a brighter future ahead of her. She must continue to take care of herself even beyond our care. She must come back one day as a qualified Community Development Practitioner and continue to work with us as we inspire the next generation,” she concluded.

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