This young girl survives the fire and finds healing and love

Read a story of hope… shared on Mandela Day.

A young barely recognizable little girl arrived  at St Joseph’s Intermediate paediatric facility on 13 January 2017 after sustaining extensive burns across her body and predominantly to her arms and face.

Her name, Lee-Hansay. She had a history of cardiac defects, foetal alcohol syndrome and complex social issues. Lee-Hansay was unable to speak or eat and refused any food as a result of long-term nasogastric feeding. Her case was so extreme that she even struggled to tolerate food touching her. St Joseph’s began a joint therapy program with occupational and speech.

The turn-around began and Lee-Hansay started to tolerate certain food orally. She was also encouraged to try and eat and drink by herself. Many problems had to be overcome but even drinking liquids was problematic because when she swallowed it would go into her lungs.

Therapy continued and it took months for Lee-Hansay to be able to eat a full bowl of porridge or puree. She is a brave and courageous girl and she later insisted on eating the full ward diet of rice, meat and vegetables.  Although she continued the battle with liquids, she managed small sips of water, via a spoon and showed improvement in her swallowing coordination.

The battle to get Lee-Hansay off nasogastric tube feeding continued, and the therapists persisted with treatment. She continued therapy to encourage speech and language development and showed drastic improvement, far beyond what would be expected of a little girl who has been through so much trauma.

After months of speech therapy Lee-Hansay was able to understand what others said to her and she could follow simple instructions. She was soon able to imitate words and could use basic words spontaneously. Her favorite was to try to join the other children in the sing-alongs.

St Joseph’s worked together with Red Cross Children’s Hospital (RCCH) which is in possession of a state- of- the-art laser machine which reduces the appearance of scars. After a course of six sessions it produced quick visible results. As a beneficiary of the Phoenix Foundation, Lee- Hansay also had some laser surgery which helped flatten the scars on her face.

Lee-Hansay is a delightful child and her courage and perseverance brought hope and joy to everyone at St Joseph’s.  In just less than a year everyone said their goodbyes to Lee-Hansay.  She left in the loving arms of a single mom in George and is blossoming! That’s the two of them in the featured image,.

This story is  shared by Michaela Purchase– speech therapist at SJH. Please feel free to share on Social Media in support of the work we do.


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Levi Strauss Foundation entertains children of St Joseph's

The Levi Strauss Foundation visited SJH and their staff volunteers created a fun filled afternoon with a magician, music and hotdogs! They also donated a large number of nappies and wipes. Thank you Levi Strauss for giving up your time entertaining SJH children! We all had great fun.


Home receives wonderful gift of Painting for the Play Room

Friends of the children of Saint Josephs: Seumas, his wife, Helen (artist),Joan (painter) and Patrizia came from Camps Bay to donate a very special painting to the children of SJH. Depicting Saint Josephs with baby Jesus, has found a special spot in the playroom which was funded by Rotary Signal Hill which Seumas and his team were involved in.

Donors Dieter and Bettina Wulkow Visit

We welcomed Dieter and Bettina Wulkow. Their Foundation, based in Germany, donated brand new computers to the Playroom. Older patients are able to utilise the five PC’s while the pre-school kids learn the basics “playing” on the kiddies’  laptops. Dieter and Bettina spent time with kids in the Playroom and also visited the wards.  Thank you for all your support!

Despite water restrictions, the kids enjoy a moment outside with rehab staff.

Celebrating 80 Years of Health and Wellness for Vulnerable Children

For 80 years, St Joseph’s Home (SJH) for Chronically Ill Children has cared for orphaned and vulnerable children from all races. Against a background of political turmoil and poverty, the facility has survived, defied Apartheid and touched the lives of more than 21 000 children.

On 22 September (11:00) this landmark achievement was celebrated with a special Mass at St Joseph’s (which incidentally followed one day after International Peace Day). The Mass was conducted by Archbishop Stephen Brislin and more than 200 special candles, sponsored by SPAR Western Cape’s CSI were lit to celebrate the healing of children. Sisters from the Pallottine Order from Rome and Germany also attended while Mayco member, Suzette Little, conveyed good wishes from the City.


Located in Philippi initially, and later in Montana (1967), Cape Town, the facility was established in 1935 by ten Pallottine Missionary Sisters who were called upon to come to South Africa and care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). This included many children who were left destitute and ill after the 1930 Great Depression. Armed with their belief, passion and forward thinking, the Sisters started a paediatric health and wellness model, focusing on the holistic well being of the child. Within six years, the number of children increased to 120, all receiving specialised nursing, education, rehabilitation- physio and occupational therapy, and even hydrotherapy.


Today, St Joseph’s Home (SJH) for Chronically Ill Children is a registered non-profit organization and a proud South African pioneer in the field of paediatric intermediate health care. The holistic model of service includes, free 24 hour general and specialised nursing care (140 beds maximum and block rehab patients), and multi-disciplinary interventions such as Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy and Speech therapy rehabilitation, social work support, on site pre- and primary school education, parental empowerment, specialised nutrition programmes, logistical support, training of accredited auxiliary nurses (nursing school), pastoral care, outreach and follow-up support visits and volunteer placement programmes. More than 300 children benefit from these services annually.


St Joseph’s Director, Ms Thea Patterson, said that SJH is ideally positioned to take on the new challenge of intermediate care service, based on a proven record of looking after children with life threatening conditions. This is also in line with the Home’s strategic thrusts of remaining relevant and sustainable as a financially viable non- profit enterprise which will attract much needed funding from donors and government alike.

“At St Joseph’s we know that we cannot change the world. However, during the past 80 years, we have supported and enhanced the lives of more than 21,000 vulnerable children from the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa. We gave them a second chance at life. We have learnt from the past and pioneered a holistic and sustainable model in paediatric intermediate health care which is currently quite unique in South Africa, “ she said.


1935– St Joseph’s is established. The late Right Rev. Bishop Hennemann identified a need to care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC’s) after the 1930 Great Depression. Ten Pallotine Sisters arrived on September 23 and a few days later, the first patients were admitted to the vacant Presbytery in Philippi, Cape Town.


1954– the Group Areas Act forced the Sisters to find innovative ways to deal with the challenge of segregation, as they were no longer allowed to treat white, black and coloured in the same facility. Philippi became a designated black area.

In 1967– the Sisters secured funding and land in Montana (area still undesignated to a racial group), a new hospital was built, and 18 years later, a school was added.

In 2002 a 25 bed ward was opened for HIV/Aids infected children to counter a new pandemic. Today, the Sunflower ward ( infectious diseases) still cares for at least 25 patients (0-2 years) daily.

In 2008 funding was secured and the Nursing School reopened after being dormant for some years. More than 100 students from poor socio-economic backgrounds have been trained as auxiliary nurses and given an opportunity to gain a qualification and employment in the nursing sector.

In 2013 the new Intermediate Care Policy for children is introduced and proves to be a game changer. Patients at St Joseph’s stay for shorter periods, if possible. A pilot rehabilitation programme funded by The Children’s Trust of Red Cross Children’s Hospital is also launched.

In 2014 major funded renovations worth R36 million start at the Home pioneering innovation, moving the Home away from institutionalised to more child friendly and homely spaces.

In 2015 the first two renovated wards and the new rehabilitation hub are completed.