Frequently Asked Questions
Many of our children have been placed at Sibongile by the Department of Social Development, because there parents or guardians are not able to care for their child. Some children have been abandoned either at the centre or some other public place, where – thankfully – someone knew about Sibongile and brought the child to the centre.
Due to the time consuming special care that CP children need, many parents in the community of Khayelitscha and other townships are overstrained with their disabled child. Some face social and cultural pressure from their neighbours and family who despise the children and their parents or believe they have been cursed by a witch doctor. The high rate of teenage pregnancies adds to the problem. Often, disabled children are abandoned or hidden away and neglected, which causes their physical and emotional condition to deteriorate even more.
In South Africa – unlike in other countries – parents of disabled do not have easy access to a full range of free public services, government support and specialized care. They are often left alone to face their challenges and depend on non-profit organizations to fill the gap.
That is why there is such a great need for care centres such as Sibongile, where these special children are given professional care either in a residential context or a day care facility (see Sibongile’s Action Plan for 2012).
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a general term for brain damage conditions that cause physical – and often mental – disability. CP is caused by damage to the motor control centre of the young developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, birth or after birth up to age three. It is mostly caused by complications during pregnancy or birth or by central nervous system infections (such as meningitis). CP symptoms vary greatly: the children at Sibongile generally suffer from heavy CP resulting in spasticity, spasms, epilepsy, blindness, speech disorders, eating problems, mental retardation and other conditions which make them vulnerable and dependent on specialized, loving care.
At Sibongile we ensure that all our children are treated with the same love and respect. Even though we do have a handful of children whose HIV status we know to be positive, we make sure that careful hygiene measures are implemented with all our children, no matter their health status.