At Christian Social Services (CMR) East London we believe every life matters and each individual has the power to change the world for good.
Despite the impact and challenges that COVID-19 during 2020, Christelik-Maatskaplike Raad (CMR) East London continued to ensure services were provided to the most vulnerable in our community. It is through support given by companies, trusts and individuals that we continue to assist vulnerable children and to provide a safe place for abused women and their children.
The need to social distance has put incredible pressure on us to find ways to increase our consultation spaces within the organisation.
Our greatest assets are not our offices or the cars we use to do our jobs: our greatest assets are our human capital: the men and women who serve at CMR. Meet our dedicated team.
CMR East London's longest serving stalwart is Johanna Potgieter, who, with over 26 years' service, is the backbone of the organisation.
Johanna is our bookkeeper and because of her dedication and commitment, we often joke that if Johanna ever leaves, we will just turn the lights off and all go home.
She runs the books with an iron fist but is affectionately known as Tannie Johanna to younger members of staff.
She started out as a volunteer in 1990, helping to sort donations and joined the staff in September 1995.
It is thanks to her diligent and careful handling of CMR finances that we have a clean track record of financial administration.
Johanna is a mother of five with four daughters and a son. Her last born were a set of twin girls. She is a loving granny of 13.
Christina Mdledle joined CMR on 5 January 2015 and heads up our Home Food Security programme.
She is quick to tell you that when she came for her interview she had neither the two year’s experience or the car license that was required but she told the Board that she was a hard worker and learned fast.
She was hired.
Christina is passionate about her work and her words run into each other when she gets started on her subject.
“I knew nothing when I started but I began to Google,” she says and explains how she has learnt all about soil types, harvesting and different types of gardens.
At a recent Wesbank conference other NGOs were clamouring to tap into the knowledge she has acquired.
Christina is usually one of the first in the office and last back from the field. She called recently from the field with a plea in her voice for the office to be kept open for an extra hour so she would not miss the last part of a training she was attending. She didn’t want to miss the part on teaching the disabled how to garden with towers. It was a plea that couldn’t be turned down.
Before joining CMR, Christina worked as a caregiver in an old age home in Cape Town for 13 years. In 2012 she studied to become a social auxiliary worker and the rest is history.
She is married and is a mother of two daughters and a son.
CMR has been serving hurting children and families in East London quietly, consistently and reliably since 1955. We are a reputable welfare organisation with a trusted record of service excellence.
In addition to child protection, prevention and early intervention services, and adoptions, we also run a safe house for women and their children who are in crisis be it as a result of abuse, rape or human trafficking. Victory House serves communities across the race, religious and social spectrum and offers an intense seven week therapeutic services to help women get back on their feet, offering hope and a way out of their traumatic circumstances.
They receive love, support and care and help on the road to healing and restoration.
Our food gardens and agri-hubs in the densely populated semi-urban areas of Reeston, Mzamomhle and Ducats serve to offer tangible hope and skills to people living in poverty. Read more about our home food security services here.
We have a dedicated team of 30 staff comprising social workers, social auxiliary workers, field workers and admin support staff and we are passionate about our work.
Sometimes we feel like we are putting our finger in the dyke to stem the tsunami of need we are confronted with and we believe we need to think ever more creatively to meet the sometimes desperate needs in our communities.
Some of our dreams include:
To establish a second phase safe house where women who need a longer period to get on their feet can stay.
To open a day care for women in the safe house where their children can be cared for so that they can either upskill or seek employment. This will also serve to bring an income and make our projects sustainable.
To grow our fledgling skills development programme at the safe house to equip women with marketable skills. The shop will serve a dual purpose and be an outlet for goods produced.
We have big, impossible dreams of seeing our communities healed and transformed from hopelessness to hope. Where men who abuse are healed and made whole and their victims restored; where addicts are set free; and families are reunited. Where people realise their instrinsic worth and value as human beings and know they are not a mistake but they are born for a specific reason and have a unique purpose to accomplish.
We will continue to reach for these goals by paying attention to the one in front of us: the one who has the potential to change a family, a community, a nation and the world.