Tony Lawrence, 62, a stroke survivor and keen motorcyclist, completed the ride on Friday to honour the Leliebloem House Children’s Home in Crawford, Athlone, as one of several events to celebrate the milestone throughout the anniversary year of 2018, when the home will officially be 150 years old.
Lawrence hopes to raise awareness of the home’s programmes and services and “much-needed funds”. This was followed by a home-coming dinner at what was once the site where the children’s home existed for more than 100 years until 1971. The next year land was bought in Crawford after the original building was declared dangerous.
Leliebloem House was founded in 1868 as a “house of mercy” by Bishop Robert Gray and managed by the Sisters of Mercy of the Anglican Church. Its purpose was to provide refuge for fallen women in Plein Street, Cape Town, while also working with orphaned and vulnerable children.
Today, it is a registered NGO that operates as a residential child and youth care centre for 60 children between the ages four and 18 from troubled families and backgrounds. These include very poor and negative socio-economic conditions, such as single-parent homes with both drug and alcohol abuse.
Leliebloem not only offers safe residency for the children but also works closely with communities and families from where they had been removed.
To help these children grow and gain interpersonal skills, the house provides customised treatment and development programmes with the help of volunteers from Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and the UK.