Loving A Tough Job

A few months ago, when I signed on to work with Jo’burg Child Welfare on this study abroad trip, I knew I would hear heartbreaking stories of the dire conditions South Africa’s poorest children face each and every day. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the tremendous strength of the non-profit’s employees and volunteers. As we began our interviews with members of the organization this week, I got the chance to meet Lowina Fourie, the manager of the non-governmental organization’s division responsible for processing all incoming cases of abused and neglected children. It’s a position she’s held for only about two years. But even in that short span of time, she’s had numerous tragic experiences. She spoke of countless abandoned newborns that have been brought into her office after being discovered in plastic trash bags or simply on the streets. She shared a particularly vivid memory in which her supervisor sat down in her office and broke into tears after she learned that one of the children brought to the non-profit was found eating a dead rat. Although she’s encountered hundreds of other equally horrible stories, her face lit up as she described her job. “I just love working at Jo’burg Child Welfare,” she said. “I think what we’re doing at Jo’burg Child Welfare is so important in terms of protecting children’s rights.” While the sadness on her face was evident, the determination in her eyes was unwavering. It was after speaking with her that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had chosen the right group, and Jo’burg Child Welfare was where I wanted to be.
–John Tompkins