Today I began my service learning project as a volunteer at the Edith Benson Babies Home. Although this residence is referred to as an orphanage, it does not ultimately represent what one would call an orphanage in the United States. An American orphanage typically houses children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Edith Benson offers full-time residency for children suffering from these issues but also provides medical and day care services for children of extremely low-income households. As the Child Welfare Durban and District accurately describes, “with deterioration of social and economic conditions and the AIDS pandemic, the survival of the extended family is under threat”. Thus, child welfare centers like Edith Benson may provide housing and services for children so that parents can attempt to create a more stable environment for their families.
As part of my work as a volunteer, I assisted the staff with teaching the children in the traditional Montessori education style. These lessons involved English instruction on basic terms such as the parts of the body, artistic exercises through sculpting and coloring, and logic puzzles with blocks. I also helped to oversee the children’s daily activities such as mealtimes, naptimes, and playtimes. It is heartbreaking to think of what medical or domestic conditions these children have suffered from over the years, but it is nice that Edith Benson is able to provide a safe place for those they are able to admit. I am interested to learn more about the different welfare programs available in South Africa.