The Arch of Tears In Britain during the 18 and 19 century, the Workhouse was often the last port of call for the sick, the destitute or the orphan. The Workhouse was no safe haven for those unfortunate enough to require its facilities, but rather the final indignity in a life that had already seen more than its fair share of hardship. In Birmingham, the entrance to one such establishment was through a large arched portal known to the locals as the Arch of Tears. Charles Dickens offered a glimpse of Workhouse conditions in his novel Oliver Twist, the image of the young boy asking for more a poignant symbol of the harsh life led by the inmates.
No more a child set apart Even in the early decades of the more enlightened 20 century however, the ‘Home Child’ could often be identified by the obvious lack of not only material possessions, but also the confidence and demeanor of a child from a normal family environment. Fortunately today, the vast majority of modern facilities, such as Strathyre, manage to raise children who, despite their circumstances, are capable of coping successfully in society on an equal footing with their peers.
Strathyre a safe haven To provide for women and girls in need of care, The Salvation Army established a home in Germiston in 1921. In 1934 the name Strathyre, meaning Little Haven, was adopted when the children’s home was transferred to a house in Troyville, Johannesburg. The home continued to function there until 1968 when it moved to the present facility in Kensington. Today Strathyre is home to 60 girls between the ages of 3 and 18. All are committed to The Army’s care through the Children’s Court due to varying degrees of abuse, neglect, poverty and/or abandonment. It is here, within a secure and loving home environment that the administrators and their staff of house mothers, counselors and social workers, that the children’s past hurts are addressed and they start on the long and often-difficult road to a meaningful future. Strathyre is successfully preparing the girls for the time when they will have to make their own way in the world.
Funding As in all our Social Centers, lack of funding is always a problem. Donors in the business sector assist from time to time with donations of food, equipment or even sponsored trips such as a recent day to the Valley of the Waves at Sun City. Despite the generosity of the public however, Strathyre’s administrators, of necessity, require a pro-active attitude with regards to this issue, and fund raising events are organized to make up the shortfall.