Children’s guardian and founder of Little Brinks, Katherine Brinks, is the recipient of the 2016 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Community Development.
Kath Brinks has a passion for helping children. She is the founder of Little Brinks, an organisation that works to break the cycle of hardship and damage experienced by young children in dire circumstances.
In 2008 Katherine and Danny Brinks went to the Department of Social Services offices in Elsies River to meet their adopted daughter’s biological family. While in the offices they were struck by the number of children and older people who came to the offices destitute and unable to imagine where their next meal was coming from. The Brinks decided that having seen this need, it would be impossible for them to return to their normal lives without doing something. And so the annual Little Brinks Christmas party was born.
The first party provided presents and all important food parcels for 50 children. Currently the event provides for 250 children.
Eight years later Little Brinks runs several projects including the annual Christmas gathering - a lunch programme at Buren High School that feeds over 250 young people five times a week with a nutritional lunch; a family help programme that helps families who are destitute by providing partial food parcels and opportunities for work and counselling; a foster care programme that encourages families to become foster parents; and most recently a safe house for children aged from newborn to 4 years old who need to be urgently placed in safekeeping.
When asked what drives her to dedicating her energy to the care of children, Kath shrugs lightly and says: I think that people do not realize the severity of the problems that many young children face in Cape Town. Children are being hurt every day. Big children, little people, babies are all being hurt because of the circumstances all around them. Through Little Brinks we try and break that cycle of hurt and give little people the chance at a future.
Increasingly Little Brinks has become involved in the foster care working with social workers, who Kath explains are sorely overworked and faced with constant emergency child care cases. Little Brinks encourages families to consider foster parenting and supports foster families by bringing them together to discuss their experiences and sharing clothes, and toys and the necessities of child raising in order to help as much as they can as many of the children placed in foster care require medical assistance which is expensive.
Little Brinks is a registered NPO and is spreading its wings. They are in the process of helping their first Johannesburg family to become foster parents and Durban and Bloemfontein are in Kath’s short term sights.
The idea says Kath is to pay it forward as much as you possibly can and in so doing break the cycle of despair and hurt that surrounds so many young children every day. “They are our little Starfish. Saving one child will not save the world, but it will save that child’s world. That is my inspiration.”