The Lighthouse Children's Welfare Home is a foster home registered with the Registrar of Societies since 2007.
The home is run by Mr and Mrs Steven, who have given up their respective jobs to become full-time foster parents to all the children.
Mrs Steven, 64, is a trained Child education professional, specialised in pre-school children's education. She has worked 13 years with children in pre-schools before retiring to care full-time for her enlarged family.
Mr Steven, 67, used to work in the banking and insurance sector, but quit is job many years ago to support the logistics of activities carried-out at the Lighthouse, and to be the best possible loving father for his children. He used to work as a school bus driver but following an injury due to a fall he no longer has income from this source to support the home.
The seed for the couple’s lifelong dedication to caring for underprivileged children was planted when they took in abused children referred to them by others, who thought the child could find a loving and safe place among the Stevens and their biological children. Then another child came, and another one...it was difficult for them to see so much suffering and vulnerability without doing anything that could give the child a second chance in life. One child after another, the Lighthouse was born.
Lighthouse now has 63 children with ages ranging from 4 to 20.
Supported by a Committee of 14 persons, Lighthouse is run by 4 paid staff who take care of the children and 2 staff for security and maintenance. The home has expanded to 4 rented houses that comply with all regulations.
Over the last 15 years we have been able to count on the generosity of our community, our private and more recently a few corporate sponsors. However, with the growing number of children seeking protection every year, this adhoc and spontaneous support is not enough to ensure the sustainability of our services. We are planning for the longer term viability of Lighthouse and to continue to improve the quality of our care rather than having to fight for survival every month.
There are a lot of advocacy activities undertaken by Mr and Mrs Steven and the Lighthouse to bring about change in attitudes. The child care approach of Lighthouse rests on it being a family, not an institution.
In spite of efforts to counteract the stigma of living in a home as a safe haven for them, the children often face discrimination stepping outside, primarily in school and from attitudes of others.
Mr and Mrs Steven have worked hard to convince the authorities of their approach and have won many cases in order to have their rights recognised through legal adoption.
The Lighthouse wants to strengthen and be a model for a higher level of child-centred development. Although government standards of care and support have all been included in the Lighthouse's vision and values, it strives to set higher standards that should become the norm.
The children attend government schools but the Stevens, helped by volunteers, provide additional learning support at home, as well as pastoral and counselling for those who are in greater psychological and emotional distress that isn't given by any other organisation.
To bring about change in attitudes requires educating the immediate community and general public too. Lighthouse also provides opportunities for local communities to change their attitudes, providing a place where local residents can offer a community service by volunteering and offering support in kind and/or financially.
The home provides space for people wanting to do good, offering opportunities for inter-generational mentoring and support, counteracting loneliness, and getting over sudden loss. Lighthouse continues to experience many reasons behind the volunteering that helps to sustain it, and keeps contributing to the communities around it in many ways.