By Madali Chibambu

  • The Desmond Tutu Child and Youth Care Centre has become a haven for children in need, offering stability and support to its residents.
  • Through the Imbizo Group, young leaders like Thabang advocate for the well-being and interests of their peers, ensuring their voices are heard.
  • Despite a tumultuous past, Thabang and his brother have found a sense of belonging and hope for a brighter future at the centre.

Desmond Tutu Child and Youth Care Centre is home to a 17-year-old boy who, along with his younger brother, has been moving between shelters since they were taken away from their mother. Today, *Thabang (not his real name, to protect his identity) is one of the children’s leaders through a structure called the Imbizo Group, which champions the interests of fellow residents at the centre.

Thabang recounts that before finding stability in various child and youth care centres, he and his brother lived with their mother, who struggled to pay rent for their small, rented room. She often locked them inside while she went out to look for casual jobs. As a result, they were not attending school until the police intervened and took them into protective custody.

“I am happy to be part of the Imbizo Group because we are the voice of the children staying in the centre. If the children are not happy with the food and it is not tasting nice, we arrange a meeting and speak to the manager,” says Thabang.

“For me and my little brother, being here today was not easy. We moved from one shelter to another until we were placed here at Desmond Tutu. We have been staying here for four years now. We are attending school and participating in various activities. The social workers are friendly to everyone,” he says.

Thabang’s father died when he was young, but being a resident at Desmond Tutu CYCC has significantly changed his life. He has been introduced to many programs and has learned about his rights as a child. In some shelters, he says, children do not have the right to complain.

Social Work Supervisor Maphefo Mnisi at Desmond Tutu CYCC describes Thabang as a very active child who follows instructions and is dedicated to his schoolwork. Through the support and stability provided by the centre, Thabang and his brother have found a sense of belonging and hope for a brighter future.


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