“The children who sleep in the streets, reduced to begging to make a living are a testimony to an unfinished job.”
These are the words of Nelson Mandela who was quoted by radio personality, Africa Melane at Streetsmart’s 13th annual handover on Monday November 19.
StreetSmart South Africa is a non-profit organisation that raises funds for street children projects through participating restaurants, accommodation establishments and wine tasting centres.
The organisation handed over R1 05 million to their Cape Town beneficiaries for 2019.
Organisations such as the Amy Biehl Foundation, Cape Town multi-service centre, Home from Home, Learn to Live, Ons Plek and Zip Zap Circus were among the beneficiaries that each received R75 000 for their contribution in helping vulnerable children and communities.
Mr Melane spoke about the importance of caring and nurturing children from a young age.
He said we were living in a country that denied children undivided attention, unconditional affection and the love that they need and deserve.
He said the country had policies that protect children but they were not implemented. “We have enshrined in the constitution that every child has a right to basic education, but there are thousands of homeless children who are not going to school, how is this possible? What are we doing to help these children?”
Mr Melane said the country tends to focus on putting in place remedies for when children are teenagers and already abusing drugs but more should be invested in the early stages of their lives to prevent them from going astray. He said the true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.
Quoting some lyrics from the song Greatest Love of All, Mr Melane said: “It is left to each of us to make sure we do our bit and play a role in creating a future that is a better world for our children, to teach them well, to let them lead the way and allow them to see the beauty that they possess, give them a sense of pride and to have their laughter remind us who we used to be.”
The chairperson of Streetsmart, Melanie Burke, thanked the patrons and partners who help children build their lives.
“Through the generosity of our fund-raising partners and other supporters, we are able to continue to expand our national footprint. For the fifth consecutive year, we will be disbursing over R1 million to beneficiaries nationally enabling us to support 35 programmes,” she said.
Ms Burke urged restaurants, accommodation and wine tasting venues to become “Streetsmart” in their local areas.
About 33 establishments in Cape Town are part of the programme and funds are raised by adding a R5 donation to each patron’s bill.
The co-owner of La Mouette and Upper Bloem restaurants in Green Point, Mari Vigar, said they do this because it was important to be part of something with substance that showed real results. “We encourage everyone to join this cause that allows the adults of tomorrow to see a better future for themselves, one R5 at a time,” she said.