Cape Town Mrs. Masuki's Garden Video

Mrs. Masuki’s Garden

Mrs. Masuki shares her story on her organic farming in Cape Town.

Cape Town Fred Client Story

Stories from Lawrence House: Fred

Lawrence House is a registered child and youth care centre based in Woodstock, Cape Town. Although it runs as an independent children’s home, it is one of the programs of the Scalabrini Centre. Lawrence House can accommodate up to 25 children and youth and specialises in the care and protection of unaccompanied foreign minors and refugee children, as well as of children who have experienced trauma.

What happens to youth who, upon reaching independence, have left Lawrence House? We meet Fred, who spent several years of his childhood at the children’s home.

Fred’s background

My name is Fred and I was born in Rwanda, Kigali. In May 2003, aged seven, I migrated to Cape Town with my mother. We left due to my mother’s health problems and the ongoing conflict in Rwanda. We were seeking refuge and we entered this new environment with nearly nothing and unable to communicate in English.

Conditions were initially tough. My mother was unable to find work and struggled to put food on the table. It it was difficult for me to be enrolled in a school. We then moved a shelter, The Ark City of Refuge, where living conditions were marginally better. In April 2005, aged nine, I moved to Lawrence House where I was one of 25 other children who were brought to the house as it newly opened.

Living at Lawrence House

Truth be told, I honestly believe this was the major turning point in my life.

I entered Lawrence House not knowing how to speak English or read the time. Lawrence House became my home; a home which fully supported and encouraged my relationship with my mother, and would go on to support me in all areas of my life and develop me into the person I am today.

I attended Primary School and at first I struggled to adapt to the new learning environment. I was also at times discriminated due to coming from another country. This was the most difficult period in my life. However, as time went by, I managed to catch up with my academics.

Lawrence House also provided me the opportunity to get involved with outside activities such as club soccer and martial arts, and in sixth grade I joined a kung fu school in Mowbray, which I attended for four years. I mention this because I believe this period played a significant role in my development as a teenager.

With the input of Lawrence House, I learned to become responsible. I was taught respect, leadership, patience, gratitude, giving back and the importance of realizing how to discover my purpose. I slowly built the ability to evaluate my life and base it on the core fundamentals of hard work and always trying one’s best regardless of what you do.

Lawrence House continued supporting me in the difficult periods during my high school and over the years they would constantly provide programmes, workshops, activities and networking resources with the aim of developing and providing a platform for independence.

The home also instilled a specific culture, where nothing is given unless it is worked for.
I completed high school in 2015 and again through the network and support of Lawrence House, I was fortunate to be given a sponsorship and bursary to attend Rhodes University in 2016.

“Lawrence House continued supporting me in the difficult periods during my high school and over the years they would constantly provide programmes, workshops, activities and networking resources with the aim of developing and providing a platform for independence.”

Moving on

I had two emotional breakdowns: one when I received the news that I got accepted at university and, secondly, when Lawrence House told me they had found financial support to cover my university fees. Never in my life did I ever imagine that happening. My background had made me feel as if I had already archived everything I needed to.

Due to my ongoing passion for business, I decided to study for a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Economics. I am currently in my first year at Rhodes University. I dedicate all my achievements here to those who have contributed to getting me where I am thus far and to fully support initiatives of developing young disadvantage children and giving more of them the opportunity which I have today.
My background has never defined where I was going. I hope to one day provide the same opportunity I have had to someone else and then only will I feel successful. Thank you.

Photograph by Lena Opfermann

Cape-Town-Ashalina-Client-Story

Stories from Lawrence House: Ashalina

Lawrence House is a registered child and youth care centre based in Woodstock, Cape Town. Although it runs as an independent children’s home, it is one of the programs of the Scalabrini Centre. Lawrence House can accommodate up to 25 children and youth and specialises in the care and protection of unaccompanied foreign minors and refugee children, as well as of children who have experienced trauma. What happens to youth who, upon reaching independence, have left Lawrence House?

We meet Ashalina, who spent several years of her childhood at the children’s home.

Ashalina’s background

My name is Ashalina, and I was born in Luanda, Angola. I came to Cape Town, South Africa, when I was eight years old. When I was thirteen, my parents sent me to go live in a shelter called The Ark. They weren’t happy to send me there but my mother had a friend who lived there with her children and felt it was a better place for me. It was hard saying goodbye to my parents. The Ark was a good environment because it taught me what my grandparents had always taught me, that Jesus Christ is the reason we live. Also there was a gentle man from Congo named Zoe who came to visit the Ark. A group of people from Italy came every month and spent time with the refugee children. They got to know us and they were interested in who we were.

Time spent at Lawrence House

Two years later, in 2005, the Scalabrini Centre started a house for refugee children, and I was one of the children chosen to move there.The first day we arrived we were welcomed by people who were full of love, joy and with a promise of a better future. I enjoyed living there. I never had to worry about anything because it was a secure place for me to live in. I know that I was loved by the staff because if they hadn’t loved me they wouldn’t have put up with my attitude towards them. I had quite a lot of anger and I often tested their boundaries. I was one of the toughest kids who lived in Lawrence House and yet the staff chose to give me chance after chance. Lawrence House taught me responsibility, because we weren’t spoon-fed: we had chores like washing up and helping with folding the laundry, and we had to clean our own bedrooms and make our own beds. Although I didn’t particularly like it, I think responsibility is an important thing to learn.

“The first day we arrived we were welcomed by people who were full of love, joy and with a promise of a better future. I enjoyed living there.”

Moving on

When I left in 2008, I moved back with my parents. It was tough because it was a very dysfunctional environment and I got very little encouragement from them. Because of my background I feared I would amount to nothing. I shared my pain with a friend from church, and I got very involved in the church and started serving. When you leave a place like Lawrence House, it’s scary – but it’s good. There is no one telling you what to do, but each choice you make at this stage lays the foundation for your future life.

I am very grateful that in that difficult time I didn’t make foolish decisions that I would later regret. Instead I surrendered my life to Jesus because I believe he is the only one who can help me. The pastors in the Church got to know me and cared about me, they spoke life into my life. In my later years of school, I moved in with them.

After completing my final year of school in 2010, I briefly moved back to my parents, but the environment wasn’t good. It was a difficult time and I had to learn to forgive my parents, to love and to honor them, but also to look after myself. So rather than wait till I got married, which is the custom in African culture, I decided to move out straight away and I rented the pastors’ garden flat. They became my spiritual parents who invested in me. Moving out of my parents’ was the best decision I have ever made. I have been living in Parklands since then.

Jeremiah 29:11 talks about the plans God has for my life and I have never again doubted that the future that lays ahead of me is bright. The values I live by are first of all the word of God, and I choose to forgive people and not hold grudges, and to love and treat people the way I would like to be loved and treated, and to be generous. I also think it helps having a vision, this way you wake up each morning and you know where you are heading.

“I choose to forgive people and not hold grudges, and to love and treat people the way I would like to be loved and treated, and to be generous.”

Cape Town Kelly Lawrence House Volunteer Story

Stories from Lawrence House: Kelly



Lawrence House is a registered child and youth care centre based in Woodstock, Cape Town. Although it runs as an independent children’s home, it is one of the programs of the Scalabrini Centre. Lawrence House can accommodate up to 25 children and youth and specialises in the care and protection of unaccompanied foreign minors and refugee children, as well as of children who have experienced trauma.

We meet Kelly, a former volunteer and current donor to Lawrence House.

Why I donate to Lawrence House

I come from a society that believes that if people work hard enough, they can achieve anything they want to achieve. However, I analyzed this position in the course of writing my PhD, and it became very clear to me that this supposed ‘equality of opportunity’ is simply not true.

All children deserve a chance to ‘make it’ in life, yet we live in a world of structural inequality that creates difficult obstacles for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to overcome, no matter how hard they work.

I want to be part of the group of people that changes that by standing up, saying ‘This isn’t right’, and creating a world in which all children receive the opportunity to maximize their achievements in life. When children are able to do this, everyone benefits. Changing lives is hard work, and good intentions are not enough. Impact is what matters.

My work at Lawrence House

During my 8+ years of being part of Lawrence House (3 years as a volunteer and 5+ years as a donor), I have repeatedly witnessed the long-term, transformational impact they have on the children they help.
Their hard work, dedication, and sheer determination ensure that no child has to continue in the circumstances from which they came.

I have consistently seen timid, reticent children become confident, caring, admirable young people who are equipped to face the challenges of life and go far beyond what would have otherwise been offered to them.

Donating to Lawrence House enables me to be part of this impact and helps ensure that lives are changed, one child at a time.

Stories from Lawrence House: Romina

Founded in 2005, Lawrence House is a registered Child and Youth Care Centre providing care and protection to unaccompanied foreign minors and refugee children. Romina Meneghetti is the senior child and youth care worker at Lawrence House.

What are the main challenges you face working in Lawrence House?

Different children face different challenges. For younger children, following instructions, keeping to a routine and respecting themselves can be a challenge. For teenagers, it is more about balancing the freedom they would like to have and the fact that they live in an institution. There are other challenges that we face regardless of the age, and those are related to the difficult backgrounds and the trauma some of the children have gone through. We need to build a trusting relationship, be honest and create a sense of identity. This takes time.

How do you support those children affected by trauma?

Firstly, we try to run Lawrence House as a home rather than an institution. We want to instill a sense of family. The child and youth care workers offer emotional support to the children, whilst trauma professionals and a clinical psychologist offer more specialized assistance. The team have a case discussion with the supervisor to understand where a child’s behavior comes from. We decide on an intervention, which can be done internally through our programmes or by referring the child to an external professional, such as psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

What kind of activities does Lawrence House offer?

We have a jungle gym, a pool, and a basket-ball court outside. Inside, we have table tennis, board games and a TV. Our recreation programme includes also extra mural activities. Most of the children are involved in sports at school or with other clubs such as Capoeira or soccer. We also run guitar classes, art classes, and a reading tea club. During holidays we go for hikes, to the beach or go to the park, as part of the holiday programme.

How do you manage the youth’s transition from residential care to independent life?

The transition into adulthood can be an exciting time but it brings up fears and involves a shift in identity and routine. We encourage youth to take leadership their own life. First of all, youth are encouraged to help running the house. Some young people are role models the rest of the children and this allows them to be more in control of their own life.

We also work in partnership with an external service provider, Mamelani Projects, which runs the ProSeed Youth Development Programme. This provides support to young people in their transition from residential care, with workshops in development, identity, relationships and resilience. Lawrence House also has its own Transitional Support Programme which prepares them for when they leave the home.

How do you support children and young people to become well balanced, happy individuals integrated into their surrounding community?

All children go through normal transitions as they grow. For the children in our care, these transitions are even more difficult because they come from a difficult background, they are in a country that is not their own and they live in an institution. Since each individual has his/ her own character, skills, strengths, weaknesses, we develop an IDP (Individual Developmental Plan) for each one. To do that, we follow the Circle of Courage philosophy. The Circle of Courage is a model of positive youth development based on four universal growth needs of all children: belonging (significance), mastery (competence), independence (power), and generosity (virtues). If one of those areas is distorted or absent then the person is not balanced – so we work to try and ensure a balance. Regarding the child’s integration within the community, the school plays a major role. We make sure that all children attend school not only to have an education but also to create relationship with other children. This helps them to be exposed to the local culture and to integrate them into the community.

What do you love about working at Lawrence House?

Professionally, I feel that I contribute to make a difference in a young person’s life when I can see that a young person grows and becomes mature and independent and successful.

Recently a young lady came to visit me, who had been in Lawrence House. She said, “I like to come back here because I can be myself and I can talk loud!”. It is this kind of comment that makes me feel happy as a person.