Compassion for Children and Youth Earns Public Servant an LLM
Many children in South Africa are left orphaned and in the care of grandparents.
This challenge prompted Mr Mzo Mzimela to embark on a research study which earned him a Master of Laws in Child Care and Protection.
Mzimela is a Child and Youth Supervisor at Greenfields Child and Youth Care Centre, an agency of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development. His study titled: Child and Youth Care Workers’ support in raising orphaned grandchildren was supervised by Child Care and Protection specialist, Ms Willene Holness from the School of Law.
Mzimela aimed to highlight the importance of child and youth care workers (CYCW) in supporting grandparents of orphaned grandchildren. His study revealed that while many grandparents provide emotional support, there are often gaps when it comes to the socio-economic resources required to raise their grandchildren. The study shows how these gaps can be filled by CYCW through caregiving and solutions aimed at alleviating poverty by empowering families to access resources.
‘If social ills persist, the challenge of orphaned grandchildren will remain. The training received by CYCW enables them to assist in addressing the plight of grandparents and orphaned grandchildren,’ said Mzimela.
With 20 years’ experience in the field of childcare and youth, Mzimela is passionate about the social wellbeing of the youth. ‘I have worked with children in child and youth care centres, children in community settings, children who are in conflict with the law, children living in shelters and children living on the streets.’
He believes that his newly acquired qualification has equipped him with relevant information from a legislative and policy perspective on the rights of children locally and internationally as well as on the various roles of professionals in matters pertaining to children.
Mzimela plans to conduct further research in this field in order to improve the lives of South African youth. ‘Children are facing severe abuse and neglect. As a social service practitioner, I would like to embark on doctoral research focusing on the abuse of children among families,’ he said.
He added that, ‘I was fortunate to have an expert like Mrs Holness on my side! She loves her work and she has a calling in the care and protection of children. Her tireless support, guidance and patience were much appreciated.’ He looks forward to sharing his research findings through a publication with Holness.
Words: Hazel Langa