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Community Keepers launched at local school

The NGO Community Keepers, which offers free professional counselling to children, teachers and parents in under-served areas, has just been launched in Klapmuts. This is part of the expansion of the organisation’s services to reach 21 schools in the Western Cape this month. It currently serves 17 schools.

“Community Keepers fills an indispensable gap with regard to the social and psychological welfare of school going children and youth,” says Gerrit Laning, Community Keepers’ new CEO. “Observing the increasing need and the life-changing benefits of our interventions, we are constantly challenged to expand our services.”

Community Keepers works with schools that range in size from several hundred learners to about 1 500. It partners with well-managed schools serving disadvantaged or low-income communities, and does due diligence to ensure the sustainability of its model within that school.

“The schools we work in serve children, parents and teachers from communities where gangsterism, substance abuse, neglect and violence are rife,” Laning says. “Studies have shown that exposure to these sort of traumas and stresses negatively impact on a child’s ability to learn effectively — hence the extremely high school drop-out rate. By assisting learners in dealing with their emotional and psychological baggage we aim to keep them learning effectively, and ultimately keep them at school.”

Founded in 2008, Community Keepers has served more than 20 000 children, and aims to have 100 offices nationwide by 2025, serving 20 000 children annually.

It costs, on average, R100 per counselling session with a child, as this service is free of charge to the client and is subsidised by donor funding. It costs about R360 000 per year per office.

“We encourage funders either to sponsor a school office or they can choose to sponsor a child’s therapy package, which is R800 and consists of two assessment sessions and an average of six counselling sessions,” says Bridgette Wirth, fundraising manager for Community Keepers. “Every single cent counts.”

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