Located on a 26,000 square meter agricultural smallholding in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, the New Jerusalem Children’s Home aims “to become one of the best children’s homes in Africa in the provision of holistic and integrated quality care to orphaned, abandoned, abused, traumatised, vulnerable and HIV positive children.” Founded in 2000 by two sisters, Anna and Phina Mojapelo, the current facilities include nurseries, dormitories, a communal kitchen and dining area, a crèche, a Montessori preschool, play area, and a permaculture vegetable garden.
4D and A Architects worked with New Jerusalem to develop new housing and facilities and settled on the use of recycled shipping containers instead of the traditional brick and mortar option. In a heart-touching news story about the Home, broadcast by local news station, SABC, a reporter and cameramen visited after the first phase of the shipping container home project was completed.
The resulting structure is environmentally-friendly, after the architect, Sean Wall, and his team solved problems of waterproofing, the installation of a functional sanitation system, and providing for adequate insulation, while achieving a colorful, livable aesthetic and “environmentally pleasant” solution. The project was entirely funded by donations and houses thirty of the eighty children in the Home.
The children who live here are mostly discarded at birth, and there was some resistance to the shipping container idea, as Anna and Phina were uncomfortable about putting abused and orphaned children in containers. However, the new structure has inspired the children into participating in keeping the area clean and recycling, even going so far as to call it a “five-star hotel.”
Adrienne Feldner, of organizational sponsor, Orange Babies, says, “I think it’s awful for the children to always be the recipients, to always be on the receiving end of charity and never to be in a position to give.” She says that the children’s involvement in the environmental concerns of the Home has “given them a sense of dignity.”
All developments of New Jerusalem are centered on the education of the children, as well as the protection of their environment.
If you are inspired to help the New Jerusalem Home to continue in their efforts, their website’s Get Involved page calls for volunteers, a wish list of needed items, and methods for donations. Orange Babies, a non-profit that sponsors New Jerusalem with food, medication, and baby things, accepts donations and sponsorships. The BackaBuddy website has a “donate now” button to facilitate online donations to specific causes, including the New Jerusalem Children’s Home.