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A loving home for orphans

help alliance has used your miles to create a Safe House in Johannesburg, to help children who have lost one or both parents on their way to living independent lives

help alliance 15 years october safe house south africa new

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and a place of contrasts. Despite being a progressive metropolis, everyday life in the townships is dominated by poverty, unemployment and a high level of crime. It is also the city with the most street children in the country. These are often victims of psychological and physical abuse, and grow up without a proper family.

The Safe House opened in 2001 when Yvonne Deetlefs, a native of Johannesburg, spontaneously converted her old house to establish it. Since then, it has offered a secure home and a family to abandoned, neglected and abused children from the local townships. The Safe House also allows them to get a school education – an essential foundation for an independent life free from poverty and abuse. 

help alliance has been supporting the Safe House project since 2010 – thanks in part to your mileage donations.



Over the past 20 years, the house has become a place of refuge and security for over 100 children. Loving foster and adoptive parents have meanwhile been found for many of the children, both in Europe and in South Africa. 

 

Mickey Lederer (project manager since 2003) is a purser. She says:
“South Africa is a country that I have come to know and learned to love through my profession. But the beauty of the country has not made me blind to the many challenges faced by the people on the ground. I’m glad that we can give our children in the Safe House a secure home and a good education, and I believe it is important to be able to support them on their path through life. It is also important to let the children know that they can rely on us, and by doing so, strengthen their confidence in themselves and others.”

 

 

Martina Reiser (project manager since 2002) is a flight attendant. She concurs:

“I also believe in the importance of allowing disadvantaged children to grow up with dignity in a family community. The children in our Safe House experience protection, security and care, and receive an education that allows them to ultimately take control of their lives and work towards specific goals. Over time and thanks to countless long stays on site, we have developed an intense bond with the children – like a family. Our goal from the outset was to provide emotional stability, to safeguard their material needs and to give them a decent education.”

March 31, 2017. Alice Maria Ana (Norah) at college.  Feature: Safe-House children's refuge in Alberton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: JAMES OATWAY for ONE

Norah, at the Safe House since December 2006

Norah ran away from home because she was no longer able to endure her domestic situation and many years of abuse. After finding her at a petrol station completely distraught, the police brought her to the Safe House.

Norah is now a self-confident, well-educated and ambitious young woman. Besides studying for a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she works full time in a law firm. She has just started sharing a flat with Cecilia and Nobuhle from the Safe House, and has virtually been standing on her own two feet since July 2021.

March 31, 2017. Alice Maria Ana (Norah) at college.  Feature: Safe-House children's refuge in Alberton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: JAMES OATWAY for ONE
March 30, 2017. Martina Reiser (centre). Tebogo Letsie (left, in pink) and Tracey Booysen (right). Feature: Safe-House children's refuge in Alberton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: JAMES OATWAY for ONE

Tebogo, at the Safe House since 2001

Tebogo has suffered from infantile cerebral palsy since birth. Her parents failed to collect her from the hospital in Pretoria after brain surgery. 

There are no inclusive schools in South Africa – children with mental and/or physical disabilities are often simply passed from one place to another. Funding from help alliance has made it possible to send Tebogo to a suitable special school. She is delighted to be able to attend this special school – and is making continuous progress.

 

March 30, 2017. Martina Reiser (centre). Tebogo Letsie (left, in pink) and Tracey Booysen (right). Feature: Safe-House children's refuge in Alberton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: JAMES OATWAY for ONE

The successful partnership began in 2010 with the acquisition of a school bus. Since 2017, help alliance has been covering all the annual living expenses, schooling, education and training costs, the cost of maintaining the house and providing medical care, as well as the wages for the full-time “mothers”, including social security for their families.

The Safe House has continued to develop from the simple dwelling it was in 2001.

The goal for the future is for all young people from the project to be able to lead an independent and self-sufficient life “beyond the townships”. As in Norah’s case, that means young adults will be able to move into an affordable and secure flat-share when the time comes, and will be able to count on “their” Safe House community until they complete their ongoing education or studies. A support fund is therefore being set up in 2022 to cover all expenses. The project managers remain in close contact with the youngsters even after they move out of the Safe House, as the long-term relationship they have established has created a family bond that will be hugely important for the youngsters in future stages of their lives.