Turning hurt into hope
We are having the interview at her colourful pre-school in the Sunway settlement in Hartbeespoort, surrounded by toddlers and young children, all vying for her attention. She is soothing, wiping runny noses and keeping a roving eye, while answering my questions.
“This is my calling. I now understand why things happened in my life. If it wasn’t for my traumatic experiences, I probably wouldn’t have been here, trying to prevent children from getting hurt.”
Lorraine, who is well known in Hartbeespoort for her work with children in informal settlements, is not only running the nursery and pre-school, she works as a trauma counsellor and evangelist and is on a mission to educate children, especially girls, and teach them to protect themselves by nurturing feelings of self-worth and confidence.
I know what it feels like not to love yourself, to mistrust everyone and to have no hope in life. People brought God into my life which turned the hurt into happiness and self-respect, and that is what I want for all children.
This remarkable woman, who takes homeless and orphaned children into her own care, knows what hurt is. “I grew up near Nylstroom and was molested by a family member when I was a teenager. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it and I thought it had happened to me because I was ugly and not worth anything. I went through a traumatic period where I felt I deserved nothing good and was on a path of self-destruction.”
When she fell pregnant a few years later, she decided to raise the baby by herself and moved to Hartbeespoort where nobody knew her. “I worked as a cleaner in various homes before I got a job in a shop. And then my life changed when I met a wonderful pastor and his family who frequented the shop,” she recalls.
“One day I heard they were going to church and I asked them where the church was. They took me along and I could not believe that black and white people could be so good to each other,” she laughs. “It was wonderful and it was here in the church that I knew God had a plan for me and the plan involved helping children and young people that had been hurt.”
Lorraine moved to a house on the church premises and started doing ministry work in a nearby informal settlement. “I used to go daily and talk and play with the children and saw what it meant to them. For the first time I felt special and I wanted to do more.”
Together with a pastor she started a church in Bokfontein and then a nursery school, especially for schoolgirls who had fallen pregnant while in school. “I wanted these young girls to finish school and make something out of their lives and their children’s.”
“I want to turn children’s hurt into glory and give them hope in life, as I have found.”
She soon realised there was just as big a need for a nursery school in other areas around Hartbeespoort and decided to open another one at her home. However, before she could, a local school approached her to be part of their Cargo of Dreams project where they convert cargo containers into nursery schools.
For seven years, Lorraine built up the Ennis Thabong Nursery School and looked after the welfare of the children and parents alike until she was approached again by the ATKV and a church to do the same in the Sunway settlement recently.
“Seven to me is the number of perfection. During that time at the Ennis Thabong School I saw children grow up and move into primary and high schools. I made a difference. I saw children without hope and on the wrong path, becoming proud young people on their way to success. I am going to do the same here. But what breaks my heart is that so many small children are still left to their own devices during the day when parents are at work because the family cannot afford the R300 per month. I am now actively looking for sponsors, so we can keep our children off the streets and in a safe environment where they can learn and grow into contributing community members. The school also relies on donations to feed additional hungry mouths.”
Her dream is to open a care centre and place of safety for children whose parents work at night or children who need temporary foster care. “This is my dream, as were the two nursery schools, and it will come true. There is a big need for after hours child care and a place where mothers and children can be safe. God leads me and he will make this happen.”
Sundays you will find Lorraine at the pulpit of her church and when she is not at school, she is counselling parents and abused women and taking care of the orphans in her care.
“My church and children are my life and calling. There is nothing else I want to do. I have found my purpose and destiny.
“Finally I have hope and I want to give it to others!.”
Contact Lorraine on 072 947 4616.