This month we celebrate 64 years of Girls and Boys Town South Africa (GBTSA). A place where vulnerable children across the country have a safe and healing space to grow and develop.
Some of South Africa's most marginalised groups is its children. At every stage of their life, children face life-changing challenges. Our work at GBTSA has allowed us to provide ground support to vulnerable kids to help them build a better and brighter future.
GBTSA started out in Magaliesburg with just nine young residents facing very challenging life circumstances that no child should have to endure. GBTSA has since evolved to be the only youth-care organisation in South Africa where 'at-risk' and vulnerable youngsters are actively involved in a structured system to teach leadership and real decision-making in order to reclaim their own lives – and thrive again.
During their stay, our youths learn independence, leadership and responsibility – traits that empower them and help them take charge of their lives upon leaving care.
GBTSA operates residential-therapeutic healing programmes and interventions for our placed children and youth in larger home-style campus environments accommodating between 60 to 68 youth each in Magaliesburg, Randfontein, Tongaat and Macassar (along with educational Learning Support Centres per campus) and six family-style homes that each care for about 10 youth.
Along with its therapeutic programmes, GBTSA also creates meaningful memories for their youth and staff, whether on campus or on the Green Monster a good time can be found. When the green bus commonly known as "The Green Monster" came to Boys Town, it was a great day of excitement for everyone. The youth went on many trips but everyone soon realised that the bus had an issue... it broke down so many times and sometimes it was serious. Yet it created great memories and served as a dining room and recreation room at Munster. Boys used to stretch out and sleep on the warm floor under the seats and some boys slept on the luggage racks under the roof. The bus was sold and now serves as a 'food truck' where the owner discovered some of the memories and has decided to preserve its history.
Sixty-four years is a long time to create history and we could not have reached this milestone without our supporters. We would like to take this time to remember and acknowledge the resilience of GBTSA and our supporters over the years but also that of all youth, their families and communities. This anniversary comes at a time when many challenges face the child- and youth-care field, particularly access to funds and skilled social workers to enable provision of quality services.
However, we continue to persevere and serve South Africans with dedication so that no child is deprived of opportunities for a bright and independent future.