Support Traumatised Children

Who is HealingLeaves?

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HealingLeaves was founded in 1997 by Andre and Dienie Kotze as a means to support the most vulnerable people in their community, first focusing on the Gauteng area, and then on the community of Cornelia after the family relocated there in 2002.

Cornelia is a small town in the Mafube Local Municipality of the Free State, a district with a total population of fewer than 60 000 people. Like many rural areas of South Africa, unemployment and poverty rates are extremely high, with an estimated 33.4% of the population being unemployed, and 12% of the population receiving no form of income.

Throughout the years we found various ways of becoming involved in the community and assisting those in need. We began delivering food hampers to elderly community members, we donated warm clothing and shoes to school children, we supported promising young learners so that they could study further, and we had the opportunity to build two homes for families who needed safe and decent housing. Although we were continuously looking for opportunities to assist those in need, our main focus was always helping and empowering children, especially those who had suffered trauma through abuse or neglect. 

What made us realise the desperate need for trauma-based intervention for children was our involvement with Royal Family Kids Camps. In 2006 we became involved in the camps that RFKC hosted, fist as volunteers and later also by hosting our own camps for children in the Mafube region. These camps focused on providing abused and neglected children in the welfare system with a safe and healthy environment in which to find healing through love and positive affirmation. Here we experienced first-hand not only the horrific trauma that many young children are being exposed to daily, but also the incredible power of loving, safe relationships to enable healing and positive growth in traumatised children.

Because all of our programmes and work is self-funded, financial restraints together with the lockdown and difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic have prevented us from hosting any camps in the past few years.

However, our experience with RFKC, together with Andre and Dienie’s daughter Marthé becoming a permanent member of the HealingLeaves team in 2018, inspired us to think of new ways to support children who have experienced trauma, and this led to the development of H.E.L.P – Four Stages for Supporting Traumatised Children Programme.

Regardless of the projects and programmes we may be involved in, HealingLeaves ultimate aim has always been to restore dignity to those who have experienced trauma, adversity, and shame, through community-based relational intervention programmes.

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