I was so hungry my tummy ached...

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“My little brothers and I were always hungry. Our tummies ached from hunger. One time my dad punched us in the stomach because we sneaked into the kitchen in the night to look for something to eat. The food we ate was supposed to be his lunch, so he hit us…”

Ilse Oosthuizen, social worker relates: “With his blue eyes and big smile *Jason stole my whole heart. Unfortunately his young blue eyes were not always as sparkly and his face was dressed in anger instead of happiness. “

Jason is an 8-year-old boy who has been removed from his biological parents’ care due to physical abuse and extreme neglect. He is currently in a place of safety and this is his understanding of why he cannot reside with his parents:

“This one time I woke up in the middle of the night because my stomach was aching. I was so hungry. I went to the kitchen to look for something to eat. There were still some leftover food on the stove and I shared the food with my two younger brothers. We were so hungry that we ate everything – three big spoons full. The next morning we were still hungry but instead of getting some food we received a hiding from our father. We ate the food that was meant for his lunch. The other time we had to go to the river to catch fish. We did not have any other food in the house so each fish we caught we had to clean and cook it. If we did not catch any fish we had to eat leftover bread that we used as bate to catch the fish. If our self-made fishing rods broke we had to catch barbers and cook it. Sometimes we only ate the bread crumbs. My mommy and daddy would fight a lot because he would drink away our food, mommy said. We always went to bed when they started to fight because if we are in daddy’s way he would punch us in the stomach or hit us with the nearest object. We are always dirty. That is why we are not allowed to stay with mommy and daddy anymore.”

This boy with the blue eyes and his siblings now have an eating disorder. They do not eat food like their peers; instead they stuff their mouths full of food and grabs hand full of food just to have “spare food.” Thanks to our team of social workers this boy and his siblings are now receiving the help they need and their basic needs are met by wonderful people at the place of safety.

Jason is smiling and laughing and enjoying school with a full tummy thanks to our dedicated social workers acting in every child’s best interest.

*Jason is a pseudonym