They were there for their protection, to be nurtured, helped to overcome their disadvantages in early life to take on adulthood and achieve their potential.

In the words of those caring for them, their aim is "ensuring the well-being of children by protecting their rights and promoting their quality of life, as well as that of their families and communities".

From difficult starts, they were meant to equalise with the many who are fortunate not to be in need.

Now this, eight of them dead at the Lakehaven Child and Youth Care Centre in Sea Cow Lake, the victims of a 2am fire. In the cruellest way, they will not blossom as NGO Child Welfare Durban & District had intended.

The Mandela Day that Child Welfare had hoped for, where people were asked to visit its various homes for 67 minutes to help "give childhood back to children", will be very different at Lakehaven on Monday.

Child Welfare reports that organisations and individuals have offered help, a heartening response. This is where the compassionate triumph, and communities show their strengths.

What happened? Tears must give way to scouring for the cause. The only way to prevent another tragedy like this is to pinpoint it, be it a structural fault or human error. Fully understanding is the key, from the cause to the sequence of events, minute-by-minute.

Could more children have been saved? Was there anything impeding their escape? Is the alarm system working? Are fire drills practised?

If safety procedures are found wanting, there is much the NGO can do, strapped for funds though it is.

Safety experts could volunteer their assistance. To this end, the Daily News is ready to assist Child Welfare and the Lakehaven home in devising ways to prevent a recurrence. We can also help in seeking other, specific aid. It is the least we can do.