Gathering Place Trading has long been involved in actively helping children in need. They focus their efforts in the two countries where most of their products are grown: South Africa and India.
In 2006, owners Lovena and Ryan Harvey spearheaded the creation of a “Safe House” for sexually abused and ‘at risk’ children in one of the township communities of South Africa called Nomzano. The project was called ”Uthando Lwabantwana” (for the love of children) and was run by a trusted friend and a pillar of the township community – Jackie Ramncwana.
Jackie, who is trained in rape crisis counselling and has worked as a counsellor for the local police department, successfully ran the Safe House for 8 years. However, when Jackie’s own house burned down in a fire, she and her family were forced to use the Safe House as their primary dwelling.
This Safe House—a 14×16′ building located right on Jackie’s small piece of land—directly addressed one of South Africa’s most heartwrenching issues: the sexual abuse and rape of children.
Thankfully, since that time, government funded facilities have sprung up to meet the crisis care of sexually abused children. When Jackie’s house was re-built and the Safe House was available again, it was transformed into a day care for babies and children in Nomzano whose mothers need to work.
Sadly, the sexual assault of children is rampant due to a widely believed myth about HIV. Many believe that if they have sex with a virgin, they will be cured of HIV. This has led to hundreds of thousands of children being raped, and in many cases, infected with HIV. African families are shamed when someone is raped, so the children are hushed and told to forget, often not getting the medical attention that is required.
Lovena and Ryan are pleased that the Safe House is being used again and remains a place created ‘for the love of children’.