How we Began

FRIENDS OF CHILD PROTECTION serves children who have been betrayed and traumatised because,

That which should not be commonplace has become commonplace – the continuous rape and abuse of children throughout South Africa  –  Capt Nortje, Goodwood Child Protection Unit

In 2001, South Africa, and the rest of the world was shocked by the gang-rape of a nine-month-old baby, Baby Tshepang. Kerrin Marcon, a South African living in London, was one of the people terribly shocked by the news. She visited her family in Cape Town in 2001/2002 and read an article published in the Fair Lady Magazine in January 2002 about the high incidence of child rape in South Africa – which had been highlighted by the case of Baby Tshepang – and about the sorry plight of the Child Protection Units in the Cape. Kerrin, together with her mother and a friend, decided to visit Superintendent Jan Swart of the Goodwood Child Protection Unit. They were so impressed by him and his staff and concerned by the sad work they were doing, dealing daily with the horrors of child abuse, without much support from anyone.

There was such a sense of hopelessness about the place, unattractive and gloomy. They did not even have anything with which to make tea! While we were there, Supt. Swart showed us a two litre ice-cream box in which were packed several items and explained that this was what was given to children who had been sexually abused but that they were no longer getting these Rape Crisis Packs. When we opened the box and saw the items our hearts were deeply touched by the need and the vulnerability of such children.

It was decided that a group of women would visit the Unit once a month and that Kerrin would go back to London and form a team to raise funds to help the Child Protection Units and through them the young victims of violent crime. Many donors gave generously to the project and we were able to donate needy items such as cell phones, cameras, anatomically correct dolls and good fingerprint pads to the CPU’s throughout the country.

Thus Friends of Child Protection was founded and established as a charity in 2002. It comprised of a team of ladies first in the UK and then in Japan who were the principal fundraisers, under the leadership of Kerrin Marcon, and a team of ladies in Cape Town under the leadership of Flo Borchers who began supporting all agencies within the child protection system. This included the newly established detective units called Family Violence, Child Protection & Sexual Offences Units and the packing of many thousands of Comfort Packs. One of the highlights of the early years was the purchase of “Yasmin House” by the Marshall family from Singapore. Yasmin House is a treatment centre based in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town for ‘Safeline – Centres for the Treatment and Prevention of Child Abuse’.

“Dear Friends of Child Protection

We have closed the deal this morning. On Monday we will sign the transfer papers for the house. We are so excited this is a huge stepping stone. On behalf of the Safeline Board and Management, I would like to thank Kerrin Marcon and the FCP for all their patience, guidance prayers and many debriefing sessions and for making this dream a reality.”

Rochelle Philander, Director for Safeline (On purchasing the Treatment Centre in Mitchells Plain)

Friends of Child Protection was borne of the desire to help the CPU’s (only two in Cape Town) and through them, the victims of violent crimes. In 2004, the CPU’s became FCS Units (Family Violence, Child Protection & Sexual Offences Units). Six of these units were created in the Cape Metropole, and in 2005, nine FCS’s were opened in the Boland and Southern Cape. Friends of Child Protection supplied these units with many items such as fridges, microwaves, crockery, cutlery and packing the few Rape Crisis Packs which were needed – these packs then became known as Comfort Packs. Help was given in setting up the Victim Support Rooms, not only in the FCS Units but also at Police Stations in the Cape Metropole. We paid for a week-long training course for 25 newly appointed Forensic Social Workers.

In the meantime, more and more Comfort Packs were requested and in 2006, we changed our focus from the actual Units to the victims and we began to supply ever more of these Packs. In 2008 we had requests for Comfort Packs from hospitals and day hospitals (Simelela) where child victims were presented or taken by the Investigating Officers. We came into contact with Safeline and joined Connect Network and through all these contacts reached and touched many lives.

“The Originals”

Tribute to Founding Members

We would like to dedicate this space to pay tribute to two exceptional and talented women who served tirelessly and devotedly since 2002; women who have left their mark on this charity in so many ways

Herta Meyer, as a member of Gardens Presbyterian Church joined us almost at the outset. She was our liaison with the Social Concern group of the Church who packed the first few Comfort Packs for us. From 2002 to 2005, Herta not only packed all the Comfort Packs, but did the shopping for items as well as being the Treasurer for the organisation. When the orders for Comfort Packs reached 120 a month the committee stepped in to relieve her and took over the packing. At that time we packed 35 Food packages a month for Safeline and Herta continued to shop for the items and pack the food parcels. It was Herta who coined the phrase we so often use:

‘Become aware, say a prayer and make a difference!’
Herta was always our hostess for the Service of Hope and Blessing teas and other special functions and arranged them with taste and flair. 

Kirstin Lund joined us very early on and was a breath of fresh air being the youngest member on the Committee. She was the creative and innovative force in the organisation. It is to Kirstin that we owe our incredible logo. She designed it and it was just perfect for us. Kirstin was the person who suggested that we light three candles and say the three prayers for victims, those who work with them and the perpetrators. Every month and eventually every second month Kirstin would fetch the brown paper packets and the labels, usually more than 1000, the day before the pack. She, together with Petra Gevers, her sister and her husband Neil would label every packet. In the beginning she would even write the designation on each and every label and deliver them bright and early to Gardens Presbyterian Church for packing. From 2006 until the end of 2015, she, with her sister and husband, had labelled and sorted into age and gender groups, a staggering 53 770 Comfort Packs! Kirstin had three babies and throughout that time never missed an opportunity to help. She loved entertaining and we usually had our Christmas functions at her home. Kirstin and her family relocated to Johannesburg at the end of 2015. Your move to Johannesburg is our loss and their gain!