“I took one look at the children and realised I would HAVE to help. It was an act of faith, but it was at that moment that I told them to come to my house every day. That was how the project started and now I have 44 children in my care.”
Three years after founding Helpende Handjies for underprivileged school children, Wilma Christoffels still runs the care project from her house in Montagu. Her organisation was the winner of AAA Paint’s Paint for a Change competition earlier this year.
The competition was launched in December 2018 and the prize was a donation of paint to the value of R5 000. To choose a beneficiary, AAA went straight to the community itself: Social media followers and their friends were asked to nominate and vote for the non-profit organisation of their choice.
For a while it was neck in neck for Friends of Roodewal’s Kibbutz El-Shammah and Wilma’s Helpende Handjies. A strong effort towards the end of the competition, however, ensured that Helpende Handjies received 134 votes to Kibbutz’s 109.
Wilma says she has already used the donation to give the interior of the garage-turned-afterschool – and the small house where the children take their daily bath – a fresh coat of paint. The outdoor recreation area also boasts a new vibrancy.
“My daughter started high school in 2016. Three days into the school year she came home to tell me about a classmate and two siblings whose circumstances were dire. She wanted to know if there was any way in which I could help them. I asked my daughter to invite them home the next day,” she tells about the events leading up to the founding of Helpende Handjies. Her first glimpse of the siblings moved her to action.
To most of the 44 children in her care today, Wilma’s house functions as a proper day-time home. They gather there for breakfast before school and wrap up with a sandwich before bedtime at their own homes.
Wilma and two colleagues take care of everything in between (with invaluable support from Wilma’s husband Ivan): taking the children to school, fetching them, feeding them lunch, helping them with their homework and letting them take their bath after recreation.
Wilma relies on donations from the public and puts her Facebook page to good use in this regard. “We live by faith every day. I pray to God and I trust Him.” She is thankful for every bit of help that comes their way and extends her thanks to everyone who helped ensure their winning of the paint donation.