Lynn Fortuin's home will be converted into a home for at-risk children. Photo by Magnificent Mndebele.

Westdene Woman Offers up Her Own House to Become a Children’s Home

The founder of the Wykes Foundation, Lynn Fortuin, officially gave up her home to be converted into a home for children who are exposed to drug abuse and constantly at risk of physical and sexual abuse.

The gathering took place on Tuesday night in Westdene. It served as the organisation’s official launch of the Heaven’s Gate Safe Haven for vulnerable children living at Westdene 10A.

Members of the community, friends, family, city officials and residents of the infamous Westdene 10A building gathered at the former home of a local humanitarian to witness the official opening of Heaven’s Gate Safe Haven.

The intervention of the Wykes Foundation was much appreciated. “When I heard about it, I said it was a blessing from God,” said Cathy Seefort, an ANC PR Councillor.

Seefort said she would assist the Wykes Foundation to do the necessary paperwork so that they may be permitted to use Fortuin’s house as a children’s home.

The initiative was fully embraced by some residents who believe that it could have a positive impact on the youth.

“I think that the launch was okay. The best I can wish for is that . . . we can get more young kids involved and have happiness and joy for them,” said Samantha Jacobs, a resident of 10A.

Lynn Fortuin
Lynn Fortuin explained her project to attendees at the launch using a PowerPoint presentation. Photo by Magnificent Mndebele.

The organisation is run by four siblings who started the initiative in honour of their late father. The siblings hosted the launch during the first anniversary of his death.

“I’m overwhelmed; I’m just in awe of God’s presence here with us and we’re going to make a huge difference in the community and [for] the kids. We’re doing it for our father he [loved] children,” said by Kim Leon, a director of the organisation.

“I know [he would] be so proud of what we’re trying to achieve here but at the end of the day it’s all about the kids,” she added.

Be Competent and Employable

Heaven’s gate will function differently from an orphanage as parents will be allowed to visit their children on certain occasions. During these visits, parents will receive computer literacy training to assist them in finding jobs and becoming less dependent on social grants.

“[If] we get the funding . . . we could get maybe ten computers where we’ll have 24-hours access to the internet. All those parents can come here and we help them to draw up a CV,” said Ashley Abrahams, who has over 12 years of experience with computer literacy training.

Colin Wykes
The Wykes Foundation was founded in honour of Colin Wykes who loved children. Photo by Magnificent Mndebele.

Job opportunities, as well as anti-drug programmes, are also a part of the package for struggling parents. “I’m going to come in on recruitment and training with the hope of finding jobs for every single parent that I can,” Leon said.

Support From UJ Staff And Community Members

The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Auckland Park Kingsway campus is close to the site of the children’s home.

Dr Costa Georghiou, a senior lecturer at the Department of Politics, said he was keen to be part of the project.

“Every year we have community outreach projects,” he explained. “We think it’s such a wonderful project; [it’s] a worthwhile project and we definitely want to be involved. We’re going to give all the support we can to this wonderful endeavour,” Georghiou added.

Georghiou will be joining forces with Chris Fortuin who is the House Warden of Cornerstone men’s residence. UJ’s Community Engagement division will be working closely with the two-house wardens to assist the Wykes Foundation with anything they need to sustain the project.

The foundation hopes to have the home registered by January next year, Lynn Fortuin said. At this point, no children will be moved into the home but any urgent case of children in need will not be ignored.

About Xiletelo Mabasa 20 Articles
Xiletelo Mabasa is a passionate young journalist who describes herself as a “great ball of happiness” and her greatest shortfall is her love for all things ranging from politics to fashion. She is currently enrolled as a student at the department of Journalism at the University of Johannesburg. In between her studies, Xiletelo works as the Entertainment Editor and Social Media Manager for The Open Journal. After finishing her degree Xiletelo is set on getting her Honours degree in Journalism. A lover of all things digital (but mostly Twitter) she also hopes to venture into both broadcast and print media and is excited to see which will come first. She is currently working on making her mark in the blogosphere.

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