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In the business of giving hope

Johannesburg, 08 Jun 2016

In a four-bedroom home in Kensington, Johannesburg, live 48 girls aged 12 months to 20 years. Every spare wall has a bunk bed against it and they share one bathroom. Many of the girls are orphans, have HIV/AIDS or experienced trafficking and other exploitations.

The community organisation Home of Hope which houses them, provides not only shelter, but a safe and caring environment in which the young residents can set themselves up positively for the future.

Rehabilitation programs in Home of Hope’s two accommodation facilities in Johannesburg, and elsewhere in the community, focus on nurturing and educating young girls to help them build strong foundations.

There is so much to be done and if we touch even one or two lives it’s worth it.

Home of Hope founder Mam Khanyi set up the charity in 2000 after seeing girls as young as nine work as prostitutes on local streets. She had just moved to the area and was shocked by what she discovered.

"To my surprise I found out that the children I saw were orphans and that they were not from Johannesburg - they were from rural areas in southern Africa," Khanyi says.

"They had been trafficked by people who wanted to exploit them."

Before founding Home of Hope, Khanyi ran a successful small business but increasingly needed to care for 16 girls, initially in her own apartment, who had escaped from brothels in Johannesburg.

Khanyi and her team have expanded the refuge since those initial days, with 13 staff and many volunteers supporting the girls in their care and those still living on the streets.

"There is so much to be done and if we touch even one or two lives it’s worth it," says Anneli Meyer, a keen supporter of Home of Hope and Chair of Macquarie’s Johannesburg Community Advisory Committee.

As one of a handful of charities supported by Macquarie’s Johannesburg office, Home of Hope receives ongoing support from staff.

"We wanted to put our energy into one cause to make the biggest impact we could," says Meyer.

Staff began supporting the home in 2014, purchasing baked goods and jewellery made by the girls. The partnership has since progressed to include a mentoring program, educational sessions, helping to build a new toilet at one of the charity’s homes, arranging dental screenings, expanding their vegetable garden and providing funds for university fees, clothes, textbooks and school uniforms.

The first mentoring session in early 2016 focused on developing the girls’ confidence around knowing their purpose in life. Twenty four of the residents attended the session, with Meyer and her colleagues providing practical advice and tips.

"Most teenagers are confused but these girls are also dealing with their own challenges from the past. They have been traumatised and through so much," says Meyer.

"We’re trying to help normalise their lives so they can integrate back into the community eventually."

Image caption: Home of Hope provides a safe and caring environment for young women in Johannesburg.