Eldine Joorst

Social Worker, Cape Flats Development Association

Overworked, under-resourced, sometimes dangerously exposed, Eldine Joorst is responsible for rescuing and removing neglected or abused children to places of safety in Grassy Park on the Cape Flats. Sometimes parents or caregivers are so zonked out on drugs that they can't care for their child. Sometimes they're just too poor, and the child isn't going to school or receiving medical attention. An assessment worker will have visited the family, conducted investigations and monitored the child's welfare; removing the child is always a last resort. More often than not, parents don't want their children taken away, and it's Joorst who has to do it. "When I go to a household I'll explain why the case has been referred to me, why there was a need for us to investigate, and where the child is being removed to. But in some cases, when people are high or angry, there's no time to explain. I just have to take the child and go.� Joorst handles an average of 12 new cases a month. She has worked at the Cape Flats Development Association for three years, during which she has learned most of what she knows through experience. Her formal training, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), was nursing. Living in Stellenbosch, she faces a daily 120 km commute. But she's not complaining: "I enjoy being able to go home every day knowing I've made a difference in one child's life.� � Lionel Faull

Lunch spot: Spur, Stellenbosch