Turning back the clock

width=395Nothing makes our work more rewarding than hearing about children we served in the past who have gone on to lead happy, successful lives. Pam Parkes is one of these.

Back in the 1950s when Pam and her brother and sisters were placed in the care of the Johannesburg Children’s Home, institutions were run along strict guidelines, which included grouping children according to age. Little thought was given to the emotional effects of separating a four year old from the comfort of her older siblings!

As it happened, Pam didn’t remain with us long before being adopted by a childless couple. From being one of five siblings, she became an ‘only’ child until she was 11 and her parents adopted a baby. She subsequently became the oldest of 5 adopted children, who remain close to this day.

Thanks to Mrs Flotter, who was Matron at the time, Pam was able to locate her biological mother and siblings in later life. She discovered that they had not been abandoned by their parents as they thought, but that her mother had begged Child Welfare to find a safe place for them. Their father was out of work, in and out of jail, and had a severe drinking problem – and their mother wanted a better life for her children.

“Sadly – I am the only surviving sibling of my biological family,” explains Pam. “But I have many happy memories, especially of my brother, with whom I was very close, and after whom my son is named.

“I was fortunate to have been able to share my love freely and openly with both my families, in the knowledge that my biological mother had made a supreme sacrifice that enabled me to live a life of private schooling, overseas travel and, ultimately, to follow a successful career as a PA/Executive Assistant in the corporate world.”

Pam was thrilled to receive a copy of a book, published on the occasion of our 120th Anniversary. She not only recognised her 4-year old self in an old photo of one of the dormitories, she also enjoyed finding a photograph of Jenny Stafford – “Nurse Staffy, as we called her”.

“She had hardly changed at all (except for the “life lines” on her face),” said Pam, “And I could instantly feel her kind eyes on my face and gentle loving arms around me – as if I had been sitting on her lap, as I had done so many years ago! Truly a well-loved, much respected Legend!”

Pam says she is grateful to both her mothers, “the one who loved me enough to give me a chance for a better life, and the other who raised me and gave me the platform to become the person I am today.”

[ Posted 30 June 2017 ]

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