Arise from the cocoon of despair – fragile as a butterfly - BUT FREE!
This is the slogan of one of the most worthy and inspiring organisations that I have ever come across – The Open Door Crisis Care Centre in Pinetown and its admirable founder, Thora Mansfield, who is internationally recognised and respected for the work that she and her team does.
I met with Thora, to ask her what motivated her to do this work, which can be extremely traumatic for the counsellors who help the victims. Thora and her team have probably seen the worst sides of humanity and yet she manages to stay up-beat and passionate about the difference that The Open Door is making in affecting people’s lives. And what a difference!! In the more than 20 years that The Open Door has been in existence, over 400 000 people have been helped, and in 2018 alone, over 5 100 men, women and children came through The Open Door. (Whilst it is wonderful that those emotionally and physically “damaged” victims have been helped, it is also devastating to hear those numbers which are indicative of the social problems that citizens of this country face every day.) In addition, last year, more than 63 000 people (adults and school children) were reached through talks and workshops on serious social issues like rape; child abuse; bullying; gender issues; pornography; domestic violence etc.
When I asked Thora what the is the highlight of her career so far, her answer was: “People healing and being restored, and particularly, women being able to take their rightful place in society.” Typically, Thora only mentioned when prompted, the 22 local, national and international awards that she personally, and the organisation have been awarded and said that the success of The Open Door is only measured by the success that has been achieved by helping victims of dreadful circumstances and getting those victims to the point where they can stand on their own with confidence and with a sense of self-worth and purpose. I have heard the heart-breaking, gut-wrenching testimonies of brave victims of unbelievably horrifying experiences, who have literally been through hell and back, who credit Thora and The Open Door for their recovery, their healing and their ability to start life anew. Ed
One thing that I noticed in my conversation with Thora, she never used “I” but always used “we”. When I commented on this, she said that The Open Door’s team of 38 committed staff - social workers, lay counsellors, interns and volunteers - all play a part in the success of the organisation. “Being able to make a difference in the lives of hurting people or families in our communities is what inspires us to carry on - this is how we define success!!” The Open Door helps human beings. Nothing - not religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or social standing influences their desire to help and to heal. The services that The Open Door offers include: play therapy for traumatised children; ensuring that rape victims receive the proper medical treatment and legal advice; reuniting lost children with their parents; or as simple as providing a meal to a person in need. It responds daily to the calls of men, women, children or families that have been victims of crimes of violence, including hi-jacking and home invasions and gives counselling to help in the healing process.
The Open Door has two shelters in the Greater Durban area, one for women and their children, and a ground -breaking one for men called Men for Change. Men are conventionally over-looked, because they are traditionally perceived as strong and invincible, but the fact that in its short existence, this shelter has already helped many men, shows the need for perceptions to change and for men to be acknowledged as needing emotional and self-affirming support.
Funding is a huge and continual concern as government contributions are not sufficient to cover the incredible and vital services that this organisation offers. If you would like to assist in any way, either on a personal or a corporate level, The Open Door Crisis Care Centre is a registered non-profit organisation and public benefit organisation (section 18A) and BEE level one compliant.
Direct Deposit Banking details:
FIRST NATIONAL BANK Branch no: 221626
Current Account No: 508 1112 7775
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ
Once off or Recurring Donations are also accepted by debit/credit card though a secure link to Payfast on our website www.opendoor.org.za
The Open Door also has a thrift shop at its administrative premises at 7 Windsor Road in Pinetown and welcome any unwanted items of clothing, knick-knacks and furniture to assist them in their fundraising efforts.