Friends of Child Protection supply comfort packs to FCS units

Last Thursday the Friends of Child Protection got together at the Presbyterian Church in Gardens and put together 1 202 comfort packs for children who have been sexually abused.

The Friends of Child Protection and volunteers gather in the hall to sort the comfort packs for sexually abused children.

These comfort packs will be distributed to 25 SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units that are linked to police stations in the Western Cape.

Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC), attached to state-owned hospitals like the Karl Bremmer Hospital, where victims of rape are safely housed will also receive comfort packs.

“We do this every two months where we (volunteers of FCP) come together and make up packs that have food, clothing and a soft toy. Today we are packing 1 202 packs that will be distributed all around the Western Cape, we go as far as George and Worcester,” said Antonia Zachner, chairperson of FCP.

“SAPS let us know which each one of the FCS needs. They send a list and we then make these packs according to the age and sex of the children. So there’s comfort packs for babies, for boys and for teenage girls. A baby’s comfort pack will have formula and nappies while the teenage kids will get fruit juice, two-minute noodles, facecloths and soap. But every child gets a soft toy and that is the comfort in the comfort pack,” she said.

Ms Zachner says that although violent crimes against children were not reported during the hard lockdown, when kids returned to school they noticed an increase of cases being reported.

“I must commend the teachers for alerting the authorities, they speak up for the children as they notice the difference, they see the change in attitude and they are their voices. We’ve seen an increase for boys (victims) and there are more comfort packs for young boys this time, we get this information from the police and we pack according to what they require,” she says.

Ms Zachner says that it’s a role they wish didn’t exist, but FCP has been in existence for 20 years serving rape victims and the police rely on them for the comfort packs.

She adds that the month of December is a terrible time for children as there is an increase of sexual crimes.

Babies, victims of violent crime, are given comfort packs too.

The MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, says he will engage with them in the near future.

“Our country’s track record on child abuse is horrendous, and there’s an indictment of every single citizen when it comes to the protection of our children. Seeing NGOs helping the most vulnerable in our society is exactly what we need from an active citizenry whose aim is to ease the pain and suffering of so many children,” Mr Allen said.

A list of the recipients for the comfort packs.

Mr Allen adds that it is not an ideal situation where NGOs are assisting children due to these horrific crimes but understand and appreciates the FCP.

“The FCP and similar organisations should be commended for the work they’re doing as they’re also strengthening SAPS’ hand so that when children are assisted, they’ll feel a sense of comfort and safety. Where crime, or as in this case, child abuse, of any form occurs, we’re able to provide the necessary and relevant support to our children. I urge all community members to come together and protect our little ones.”

Boys and girls living in Atlantis will get these comfort packs.

“We have been supporting them for five years now and this is our way of giving back to the communities. It’s not a nice story as it’s about sexual abuse, it’s really sad, but we will continue supporting them and the kids. It’s a good cause but it’s really emotional for us,” said Winny Dubazane, social investment advisor for Astron Energy, who came with a team of 35 volunteers to sort the comfort packs.

Antonia Zachner, chairperson of Friends of Child Protection, says all these comfort packs will go to Khayelitsha.