The Sandra Jones Centre (SJC) has made a tremendous difference in the lives of orphans, abandoned babies and children in crisis by providing accommodation, food, education, counselling, family, and most importantly, hope for the future.
In an interview with this reporter, one of the directors for SJC, Ms Debbie Brennocks said, the main aim of the organisation is to meet the immediate needs of the children, surrounding them with safety and love, facilitating the adoption of these children into loving, committed families, to provide a refuge for girls-in-crisis or those pregnant as a result of rape and/or incest, to equip these children and girls with a wide range of skills, this will enable them to do well upon graduating from the home into a formal environment.
“We have different programmes that we are currently running, which are, Kidz Kan – sexual abuse prevention program for junior school children, She Kan – teenage girls healthy relationships program, Vocational Training School for teenage girls, which involves training in agriculture, piggery, wormery, greenhouse farming, cooking and catering, dressmaking, hairdressing, business studies, computer skills and life skills. We had over 120 girls do the course in the past 6 years. Many have gone on to find employment and set up their own small business,” said Brennocks.
“In the long term the Centre aims to prepare all the children for placement back in a safe family environment that is deemed to be safe, and where they will be wanted and loved. If they are unable to be adopted or placed in a caring family, they are then assisted with schooling and training to a level where they can enter adult life, well equipped. So far the centre has helped around 1800 children, with more than 70 children aged from birth to 19 years in their care at any one time,” added Brennocks.
She said, SJC receives assistance from many different areas. However most of their donations come from friends and family but they also have help from the following sponsors, ZDDT, Sally Foundation, Mennonite Centre, Committee, Australian Embassy, AFCAids, Canadian Embassy and VANA.
The Sandra Jones Centre was founded in 2002 by Debbie Brennocks and Sandra Jones.
SJC is a residential facility for abused children. In 1994 Sandra and Debbie began teaching an abuse prevention program (which they wrote) called Kidz Kan in the junior schools around Bulawayo. The aim of the program was to teach children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse.
At each school they went to they usually had to follow up +/- 50 children who had experienced sexual abuse. They quickly saw the need for a centre where children could receive counselling to help them work through their abuse. Also many of the children were still living in the house of their abuser because there was no residential facility for abused children in Bulawayo.
The centre was originally called “Samkele” but after Sandra passed away from cancer in 2007 the staff decided to rename the centre the “Sandra Jones Centre” to honour the work that Sandra had done in helping to establish the home and also for the outstanding work she had done in helping 1000’s of children work through their abuse.