Former employees of Sparrow Rainbow Village are up in arms as they wait for their severance packages from founder and director Reverend Corine McClintock.
This is after they were retrenched in 2019. The group said it was still waiting for its packages after only receiving money from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
Sparrow Rainbow Village confirmed that 20 employees had been retrenched due to the temporary closure of Sparrow Children's Home and subsequent funding challenges after the withdrawal of funding that had previously been received from the Gauteng Department of Health and the provincial Department of Social Development.
The organisation said it was impossible to run a huge organisation such as Sparrow Village with total reliance on the private sector.
The organisation said, “The founder of Sparrow oversees the operations alone and receives no remuneration whatsoever. She is on a state pension for the aged.
“She is 86 years old and a professional ordained minister. We as Sparrow Ministries would love to see the Village restored to its former glory as it has saved the lives of hundreds of destitute children and adults with HIV.
“We continue to operate on a shoestring. In 2019, when this funding was withdrawn by government, there were 268 residents – women, men, children and babies – at Sparrow, and the Village was functioning and receiving support from organisations, businesses and community members.”
Sparrow Village is a non-profit organisation, an HIV/Aids hospice for adults and children, offering home-based care education, training and counselling. It was established in February 1992, founded by McClintock.
The organisation, like other NPOs, was funded by the Gauteng Department of Social Development until 2014 when the department closed its child and youth care centre due to non-compliance with the National Norms and Standards as stipulated in section 194 of the Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005).
The department said the children were removed and placed in other compliant facilities. Three years down the line, the organisation issued a letter to staff and informed them that they were struggling to pay salaries due to a lack of funding.
In 2018, the organisation issued another communication and informed the workers of a turnaround strategy and retrenchments.
The process was completed in 2019.
The workers said although the Department of Social Development had closed the village, it is still operating.
One former worker said: “We were retrenched without our salaries and severance packages. Only UIF was paid. This is an abuse from our former boss who has been treating us unfairly. She does not respect us at all yet we have families and responsibilities. Life is too hard... we need our money.”
The employees said the conditions at the village were bad.
“Ms McClintok has turned a blind eye towards us and our rights are denied. Many terrible things happen and are shocking, but the place is still operating,” said a former employee.
Another former employee, who worked for the organisation for 14 years, said she now has to depend on her mother who is a pensioner.
“This has affected me a lot. I am even struggling to pay school fees for my children. It is sad because I was a breadwinner. Now I am surviving on my mom’s social grant while it has to take care of her and transport her to her diabetic check-ups.
“The sad part is that she (McClintock) is still operating, but she says she does not have money to pay us,” the employee said.
Another former employees said she worked for the organisation for 18 years, and it was sad to leave the village with nothing.
“This situation affected me a lot because I failed to pay for my daughter who was attending a private college and could not graduate,” she said.