The 1970s was a watershed decade for children in South Africa. These were harsh times and street children became a problem in many areas of Johannesburg. The streets of Hillbrow, in particular, gave cause for concern and motivated the Reverends Lesiba Kekana and Jan Hofmeyer to take steps towards realising their shared dream of providing a refuge for these children. In 1979, informal children’s home was established in an old farmhouse at Emdeni, Soweto with Reverend Kekana as manager
But while Emdeni provided a roof over the children’s heads and regular meals eased the hunger pangs, the standard of care remained inadequate to qualify the home for formal registration as a welfare organisation. A major fundraising drive was undertaken and enough money was raised to build three housing units. In 1983, the dwellings, a central kitchen and dining room came into use
Reverend Kekana was succeeded by Reverend Tladi and under his leadership the home was registered with the Department of Welfare. For a while, the Home thrived, but tragedy struck when Reverend Tladi died in a road accident in 1992, and conditions took a turn for the worse. By 1995, the Welfare Department had threatened to close the home down
Reverend Peter Loving, Chairman of the Diaconal Commission for the Ministry of Caring of the Uniting Reformed Church, took the matter up on behalf of the church. By then, he had become a board member of the Abraham Kriel Maria Kloppers Children’s Home and shared his concerns at this forum. The Board of Directors approached the Department of Welfare with an offer to take over management of the home. The Emdeni Children’s Home became part of the Abraham Kriel family in 1995
In 2009, the Emdeni Children’s home transformed into a skills development centre and Drop-In Centre for children affected by HIV/AIDS. The Skills Development Centre started off with a pilot programme and officially rolled out the centre in early 2010. Because of the high unemployment rate and through extensive research, Abraham Kriel realised the need for a skills development centre was inevitable. The Centre aims to alleviate poverty by providing skills training for the youth of Emdeni and surrounding communities. Not only is this program beneficial to the youth in the community, but also to the youth exiting our Home-Based Care and Drop-In Centres in Soweto
The Emdeni Drop-In Centre started in November 2009 with only 20 children and today serves 100 children affected by HIV/AIDS. During the transition from residential care to the Drop-In Centre, the children were placed out, mostly to our Langlaagte and Maria Kloppers campuses, but also to other children’s homes and back into the community. The need within the community where the Emdeni facility is located, has become increasingly severe, with the effects of the spread of HIV/AIDS impacting more on the lives of young children. An alternative strategy to serve a greater number of vulnerable children was vital.
In 2012, Steinhoff International, a partner of Abraham Kriel Bambanani community programmes, agreed to fund the Emdeni Drop-In Centre.