The fight for family: Amahle’s story

Penuel Children’s Foundation is based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. They work alongside government, social workers, police, attorneys and children’s magistrates to provide temporary care for children coming from backgrounds of abuse, neglect, abandonment or orphanhood.

Penuel provides safe, holistic and child-centred residential care for up to 6 children at any one time. On average, each child is with them for approximately nine months. Whilst children are in their care, Penuel works alongside social workers to find a long-term forever family for each child, advocating for their best interests. Where possible, this long-term solution is either family reunification, foster care or adoption.

This is the story of Amahle.

Amahle* was just 18 months old when she arrived at Penuel directly from hospital. She had been diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis and had been in hospital for several months for treatment. She was both physically and emotionally unwell. This little girl was malnourished and had not yet started to walk or talk.

Sadly, due to complex circumstances as well as a history of abuse, it was not possible to reunite her with her birth mother. A foster family could not be found due to Amahle’s complex medical needs. The social worker asked Penuel to provide 24/7 temporary care for Amahle until a space in a larger children’s home became available.

Amahle was welcomed with open arms. Through a holistic care plan, the expertise of dietitians and consistent unconditional love and care, Amahle began to thrive. The Penuel house parents were overjoyed when Amahle took her first steps just a week after her arrival. Shortly afterwards, Amahle began to speak and gain weight. She went from being a shy, shut-down child to a creative, vibrant little girl who was always smiling and laughing.

As Amahle began to flourish, the house parents turned their attention to a long-term plan for her. It was their desire for Amahle to be part of a loving family, not a large institution. They started conversations with Amahle’s social worker, who agreed to look at the possibility of long-term foster care one last time.

The social worker approached a foster family who had previously been unable to help due to Amahle’s poor physical condition. When they saw a photograph of Amahle, they could not believe her progress. After talking through the medical routine required to keep Amahle healthy, the family decided it was more manageable than they had first thought. After just four months in Penuel’s care, Amahle joined this loving family in long-term foster care, where she continues to thrive.

Amahle is one of 28 children whose lives have been changed by the work and care of Penuel Children’s Foundation. Penuel continues to advocate on behalf of all children placed into their care, with the hope of enabling them to be placed into forever families through family reunification, long-term fostering and adoption.

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*Amahle’s name and picture have been changed to protect her identity

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