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Durban - Abused, suicidal or depressed children would no longer be able to turn to Childline KZN for help if it was forced to close because of financial constraints, the organisation’s fund-raisers have warned.
“Children will call, and there will be nobody at the other end of the line,” said Vikki Vink, a member of the Childline KZN crisis committee. “Answering that call could save a child’s life.”
The organisation has warned that it may have to shut down within two weeks if it does not come up with sufficient money to fund its operations.
Its pleas to the public for donations have seen about R250 000 flowing into its bank account, but Vink said it needed more than double this figure to keep its crisis lines open.
It has challenged corporate KZN to raise the R7 million it needs to stay open for another year. On Friday, Childline KZN launched its million-rand campaign, aimed at companies.
“There has been an overwhelming response from the public. This past week alone we have had about 6 000 SMSes, with some even donating as little as R30 to the organisation’s account,” said Vink. “But we are still in crisis mode.
“It costs R600 000 a month to run the organisation, and with the number of big corporations in KZN, we are appealing to them to make the big donations that could save a child and save Childline KZN.”
Childline KZN chairman Mervyn Sigamoney said the biggest expense was salaries and benefits for the 51 staff members. Vehicle and other day-to-day expenses added to the NGO’s costs.
The board decided to withdraw bonuses last year.
“Children that have been going through counselling will have their sessions stopped,” Vink said.
“Services such as accompanying children to court have been stopped due to a lack of funding.”
Vink feared that without immediate financial help for Childline, children would be left alone in their time of need.
Childline has faced financial difficulties for some time while awaiting funding from the National Lotteries Board.
A further setback was having to dig into its coffers to pay 12 social workers for several months before the Department of Social Development took over in April.
“We have had to close a number of operations around KZN, such as the one in Kokstad,” said Sigamoney.
Childline KZN said it received more than 28 000 calls a month from children who were suicidal, abused or raped.
The KZN Department of Social Development, which provides subsidies to NGOs, said the organisation should not rely on one source of funding, but try to raise its own funds.
The lotteries board shares this sentiment. It has said it is facing an increase in applications for funding.
“We’re not saying Childline KZN is not doing good work, but it’s not good that NGOs are not expanding their fund-raising initiatives,” spokesman Sershan Naidoo said.
*Childline KZN was established 27 years ago and is the only accredited provider in the province of the service it offers.
It runs a crisis line which is open every day, around the clock.
Childline counsels children up to the age of 18 and survives on sponsorships and donations from the public.
All of its finances are audited and approved at its annual meeting. Members of the public are welcome to ask for a copy of the minutes of the meeting from the head offices in Durban.
To help save Childline KZN: sms “HERO” to 39555 (each sms costs R15), or deposit a contribution in its bank account:
Acc No: 100 311 1971
Branch code: 148 626
Account name: Childline KZN