Posted by: carab87 | January 16, 2011

Bethany House Trust

By Cara Bredebusch

Prior to my Castan Internship, I arranged to volunteer at the Bethany House Trust in Johannesburg for a week and a half. I had limited knowledge of the work of Bethany House prior to my arrival but learnt that the Trust has a myriad of projects including a Children’s Home, a Baby Sanctuary, a Counselling Programme, a Crisis Line, a Pregnancy Centre, a Professional Parenting Programme and a Shelter. The Trust was established in 1998 in response to the need to house and help children who had nowhere to go. I volunteered at the Children’s Home and the Baby Sanctuary which houses babies, toddlers and children who are either orphans, or who have parents who cannot look after them for various reasons. One of the aims of the Children’s Home and Baby Sanctuary is to find foster or adoptive families for the children.

I spent my days at Bethany House teaching and playing with the kids. Over the school holidays, they tend to get quite bored and it was quite the challenge to keep them entertained. Some of the activities I did with the children included teaching them the schoolyard games from my primary school years, story time, makeovers, outings for the older the kids and times table races.

It’s a really humbling experience spending time with these kids. I often forget that many of them have been through traumatic experiences including physical/sexual abuse or neglect, mainly because Bethany House is a safe environment where the kids are well looked after and have plenty of food, clothes, toys and attention. Although they’re much luckier than the street kids of South Africa, family is not something that can be replaced. Nearly everything is shared amongst the kids, and the childcare workers divide their attention equally amongst all the kids. This may be one of the reasons why the children who have parents who come and visit still raved about their parents, no matter the faults of the parent, and were so excited to introduce me to them.

Despite their setbacks, the kids are very affectionate and quite polite. They look out for one another and the older kids take care of the younger ones. I didn’t come across a child who didn’t enjoy life despite the difficulties they’d experienced.

The work of Bethany House is incredibly important in a country like South Africa, where despite substantial progress, there remains many major problems including poverty, AIDS and violent crime. These children are extremely lucky to be protected and provided for. My time at Bethany House reminded me how lucky I am, and also that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of others through perseverance, faith and hard work. I’d like to maintain contact with Bethany House after returning to Australia, and see how I can contribute to the valuable work the Trust performs.


  1. sounds fascinating Cara.. i’d love to hear more about what they do (i’m looking for volunteering ideas for post-degree!) glad to hear it was such a positive, if challenging, experience.. hope SA is going well xx

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