From Misery to Self-Sufficiency

I was waiting in her office, calmly drinking tea when suddenly Jutta de Muynck storms in giving everyone present something to do.

As founder and head of the Mother and Child Rehabilitation Center, her mind is everywhere at once. On each of the 160 children, 82 mothers and six fathers she is helping. For 12 years now she has managed the operation catered to traumatized victims of rape, domestic violence, orphanages and terminal illness. The aim of the center is to address the basic needs of these vulnerable women and children for adequate food, a safe house, and medical care. They are given counseling, art, dance, yoga, sport, drama, music and physiotherapy to confront and heal trauma.

During my visit, I was given the opportunity to see the dance therapy group perform. All of them had come a long, hard way from rejection and abuse to where they are now. However, given the love they never had, the children have turned around. The dancing has given them release and a way to express themselves. It has developed their self-confidence and given them a sense of ambition. Nothing describes their beaming smiles from the applause they received when they performed their dance routine. It was very well choreographed and was performed in near flawless synchrony. Some of them have clearly found a passion for dance and really put their hearts behind it.

When walking around the facility, one can quickly see that everyone can feel safe and at home here. The walls are painted with vibrant colors and everything is kept remarkably clean. In the washing room, the clothes are folded and stacked in neat piles. The staff has evidently been indoctrinated with Deutsche Gruumlndlichkeit, German thoroughness.

The center is divided into two buildings. In one are the therapy rooms while the other holds living spaces, the kitchen, the playground and bedrooms. When we walked into the second building the group of toddlers seated on chairs in a circle immediately jumped up in joy to see Jutta, shouting, “Madame! Madame!” They were euphoric when they were given toys to play with and chalk to draw on the ground with. If I hadn’t known better, I would have mistaken the scene to be an ordinary playground filled with cheerful and untroubled children.

From their tragic pasts, the older kids are given new hope through private school education. When they return from school, a tutor helps them with their homework to make sure that no one is falling behind. They have access to books and educational posters hang on the walls of maps or the human anatomy, inspiring a healthy learning environment.

In addition to caring for the children, the center is also supporting 82 mothers. The majority is provided with basic education including literacy, numeracy, English and civics. Furthermore, they are given safe shelter for them and their children as well as solid medical care. This gives them the competitive aantage to begin training in a skill in order to have a job and become self-sufficient. Typically, the mothers choose to become hairdressers, seamstresses, photographers, drivers, cooks, nurses or tailors. One mother who lost her vision as a child, is currently going to university in order to become a teacher at a school for the blind. Many now run successful businesses that have rightfully restored their pride and dignity. With the help of the center, they are now economically independent.

It is truly amazing to see the wonders that the center has worked on the mothers and children in its care. Knowing their plagued pasts and then seeing their smiling faces gives an eye-opening encounter with what is possible with love.

Ed.’s Note: The writer is on an internship at The Reporter.

Source : The Reporter

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