Durban — The Edith Benson Babies Home in Sherwood was officially reopened on Friday, five years after a fire destroyed the building and displaced more than 60 babies, who were fortunately not harmed in the blaze.
The home, which cost R15 million to rebuild, cares for children from birth to 5 years of age.
Children who live there have been either abandoned, orphaned, abused or neglected and were found to be in need of care and protection placed by a court order. There are also children who are HIV-positive and are on ARVs and TB treatment.
Businessman Vivian Reddy, who is also the chairperson of the Sibaya Community Trust, invested R7.5m towards the rebuilding of the home, which can now cater for 70 children.
Reddy used 10% of his own funds, and together with the Sibaya Community Trust, he funded 50% of the project.
“We hoped to build a safe and nurturing environment for all babies and children who come to this home. Countless babies in this society are left without protection and care. So this home symbolises our unwavering support for our children,” he said.
Desmond Msomi, president of Child Welfare Durban, said they were thankful to Reddy for his contribution.
“The new building can house 70 babies, making it more conducive. There is a separate wing for babies which has seven rooms and can keep 10 babies each.
“There is a new outdoor and indoor play area in the middle of the building, making it easy for staff at the home to keep the children safe. There are also facilities for child psychologists, administration and social workers.
“We already have 15 babies who are due to arrive at our home in February 2024, although we still require fund-raising for furniture,” said Msomi.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said she recognised the importance of this children’s home and appreciated Reddy’s support.
“He is providing love and care to children who need it. We in the government know the economy is not doing well so when businessmen who worry about the well-being of the community come forward to help, we are happy.
“We hope that other business people also step forward to assist the government because we cannot do it alone. Alternative care has to have a positive environment for children to grow, for them to be cared for and this home provides it,” said Zulu.
The rebuilding of the home, undertaken by Construction Africa, was completed three months ahead of schedule, making the handover an early Christmas present for those who need the services most.
Virosh Singh, the contractor, said they were happy to put in the extra hours by working sometimes seven days a week to finish the project.
“It was a tender process for us to get this job, but we felt close to the project because we visited when the home burned down in 2018. We were sent by the insurance company to assess the damages. They trusted us because we were here from the beginning.
“The finished project was the best part as the design was unique and the playground in the middle is my favourite part. It is safe for the children,” said Singh.