CEO Chantel Cooper, The Children’s Hospital Trust

You have been operational since 1994, how have you evolved over this time?
The Children’s Hospital Trust was established in 1994 to raise funds for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and in 2011 expanded its reach to fundraise for paediatric healthcare in the Western Cape and beyond.

Since 1994, the Trust has proudly assisted the Hospital to upgrade its buildings and equipment and to support the development of professional staff from Sub-Saharan Africa. 100% of all donations go directly to the Hospital and prioritised paediatric healthcare needs. Not a single cent is spent on administration costs.

The Trust is a non-profit organisation which relies on the benevolence of donors to realise its aims and objectives. The Trust has a sound reputation for financial administration and good governance, but while it has raised funds to address many pressing needs, much has yet to be done.

COVID-19 has also reminded us of the importance of healthcare in our country. We have a responsibility to ensure that children recover and grow up to live their purpose.

How can people help?
The Children’s Hospital Trust is working closely with the Hospital to support them through this period, particularly with sourcing personal protective equipment essential for ensuring the safety of all staff: Surgical Masks, n95 masks and disposable protective wear.

The Social Work Department at the Hospital is working very closely with families from impoverished communities. They are responsible for the assessment and intervention of children and their families who have any health-related needs.

In addition to chronic illnesses, the department works with acute medical emergency cases, and much of the work done in these areas involve trauma, life-changing emergency diagnoses, critical prognoses as well as death and bereavement.

Furthermore, the department sees a very high number of child protection cases daily – this varies from sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, gunshot injuries, preventable dog attacks and emotional abuse. As the Western Cape has a high level of domestic violence and child abuse, we see a high number of cases.

We rely on our local community for many needs directly related to the wellbeing of children and families. There are two areas of need for the Social Work Department:

Ongoing material needs and special child abuse project needs which exist for children and families with whom we work within this Hospital.

The material needs can be summarised as:

Food parcels
These food parcels in the time of COVID-19 are especially important as children on chronic medication cannot take medicine without having regular meals in the day. Many children we see live with alternative caretakers who have insufficient money to support children under normal circumstances. In this time of COVID-19, these caretakers cannot get food from neighbours, family, schools, soup kitchens to ensure that the child eats with meds.

Toiletry packs
Many families are too poor to afford soap and basic toiletries. When a child is unexpectedly admitted to hospital they arrive without the necessary toiletries for a hospital stay.

Baby clothing, toiletries and nappies
These are another need we consistently have (newborn to 18 months). When we remove children from their parents (due to abuse), we place the child/children with emergency caretakers. The caretaker has no clothing, toiletries, milk (for a baby). Only once a case is heard in the children’s court will DSD assist. We cannot, however, buy baby milk beforehand as we will not know what milk the different children need.

Emergency Boxes
These are for families who have lost everything when their homes burned down. The emergency kit consists of a few pots and pans, kitchen utensils, crockery, cutlery, two blankets, toiletries (including sanitary towels), a food parcel, a book and pens, a lock and key for the new shack, a towel, two plastic bowls, a whistle for emergencies, a store voucher if there are children in the family for uniform and school book replacements.

Children with special nutritional needs
These are children who follow a very specific diet due to their medical diagnosis. Their families are unable to afford their food because it is too expensive, e.g. children on a ketogenic diet or a completely fat-free diet. This is a huge problem because families are just too poor to afford the food they need.

Transport funds
Funds are needed for families for a child to attend longer-term therapy. This is in the case of a child who has had a traumatic experience or multiple traumas, or when a child has been severely abused and needs ongoing counselling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Anything to add?

Please keep our dedicated healthcare workers in your thoughts. In response to the growing coronavirus pandemic, the Hospital is working determinedly to ensure that the Emergency Centre and wards remain as safe as possible for patients, families and staff.

We sincerely appreciate all healthcare workers for their dedication and resilience during this challenging time. While we need to stay at home, they bravely go out every day to save the lives of our family, friends and communities. We salute you!


Photo: CEO Chantel Cooper with ex-patient Kiiara Louw. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *