Musical endurance for medical expansion

The Children’s Hospital Trust needs a total of one hundred million rand to expand the intensive care unit (ICU) of the children’s hospital in Cape Town (South Africa), money that will be well spent to secure the health and survival of our most precious resource, our children.

In American money this works out to 7.3 million dollars that are needed by 2017 to complete the ICU of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. The bed capacity of this largest intensive care unit for children on the African continent is to increase from 22 to 40 beds. The hospital trust relies entirely on the benevolence of donors. And the trust also receives funds from New Apostolic children’s choirs in South Africa and Germany, who went on tour together in 2014 under the name “Kids4Africa”.

One of its kind

The idea for a children’s hospital first came up at the end of World War Two, when South African servicemen stationed in Italy were waiting to be sent home. They considered what could best serve as a living memorial to their fallen compatriots. The idea of a hospital captured people’s imaginations and gained popularity. Many of the servicemen gave two days’ of their pay towards this ideal and these funds were held in trust by the South African Red Cross Society who began to champion its establishment. Sixty years ago then, in June 1956, the hospital opened its doors.

In the 1990s, corporations, community organizations, and ordinary citizens once again demonstrated their generosity. When government health budgets were cut, the hospital’s survival was threatened. A group of doctors and other interested individuals came together and, thanks to a generous bequest, founded the Children’s Hospital Trust. Since then the trust has been assisting the hospital with its funding needs. In 2013, again with funding from donors, the first paediatric research centre in South Africa was opened. Today, the hospital is the only sub-Saharan clinic specializing in paediatric care. It is also a teaching hospital for the University of Cape Town.

Urgent expansion needed

The number of patients has increased over the years. It was the enormous rise in the number of outpatients—up to 1,000 a day—that made the expansion necessary. The hospital documents 260,000 patients a year. Patients are referred from the Western Cape, the rest of South Africa, and across broader Africa. The ICU, the heart of the hospital, urgently needs to be expanded and modernized.

In July 2014, representatives from Kids4Africa visited the hospital during a private trip to South Africa. Professor Mignon McCulloch, paediatric intensive care unit consultant, informed the visitors about the plans of the extension, which called for 40 intensive care beds, ten incubators, and seminar and conference rooms. The expansion had just been started with.

Benefit concerts

“With support from donors we would like to help fund the extension of the intensive care unit of the Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital to ensure better medical care,” the directors of Kids4Africa said before the start of the tour in December 2014. Also South Africa’s ambassador to Germany, Dr. Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile was sure: “Thanks to this series of concerts, Kids4Africa will be able to support this cause with a substantial donation.”

Four concerts were planned in Germany and France. District Apostle Bernd Koberstein was delighted: “Children of different nationalities, speaking different languages, and from different backgrounds will be singing together to praise God, whom they all call their heavenly Father.”

Kids4Africa is a co-operation of several children’s choirs. There are young voices from the NAC Cape Town Children Choir, as well as children from choirs in Germany, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. Also belonging to Kids4Africa are dozens of volunteers spread over two continents who do the planning and organizing behind the scenes.

Joint success

On 26 July 2016 the first of three ICU units opened. The patients have in the meantime been moved into the new unit. It is hoped that the second and third units will be completed by the end of 2017, Chantel Cooper says, who is head of fundraising of the Children’s Hospital Trust. The first neo-natal ICU in South Africa will then celebrate its opening. Another 15 million rand still need to be raised for this.

Many have in the meantime made generous donations, also the South African public. Kids4Africa has joined the growing list of supporters and donated 80,000 euros to the hospital. The money has been used for new rooms in the ICU. The funding was acknowledged in a very special way. A waiting room for families was dedicated to the fundraisers and named “New Apostolic Church/Kids4Africa Family Waiting Room”.