My journey with GCF started in 2005, when Elize Coetzee and Dutch donors came to the office of the International Foster Care Organisation for advice, as Place of Restoration was planning to start foster care. From that moment we walked a long road together. We shared our knowledge and GCF turned our experiences and materials into an African model of foster care, that stood model for many countries in the region.
Every year, when Elize or Monica visited the Netherlands, we met and shared experiences and friendships. We went together to Namibia, where I worked as a consultant, and GCF provided training and helped in developing standards for foster care. In 2009, we met again in Nairobi, at the first African Conference on alternative care. I visited GCF in Margate and I was asked to facilitate the Conference GCF and other South African organisations organized in Johannesburg in 2015. These grassroots organisations joined forces resulting in a change of thinking of many to turn away from residential into family-based alternatives. Many returned home with a clear vision to apply the learning in their country and keep the promise they made at the end of the conference.
Every time we meet, I see the enormous passion of all staff of GCF to go just that extra mile for children in their and others’ care and their efforts to provide them with a safe and loving family, promote the life in African communities and bring those community forward, out of poverty into happy and contributing members of societies. For me, that is GCF. Not only ensuring they provide the best for their own organisation, but making a change in the whole country and beyond, on the continent.
I use the African story I received at the 2015 conference often: what is a family? Sticks bound together and thus unbreakable. I am so grateful to have been, and hope to stay, part of the GCF Family for many years to come. Happy birthday, GCF!
Bep van Sloten
International Consultant in Alternative Family-Based Care