Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My visit to Marsh Memorial Homes

While visiting Cape Town in June 2010, I decided it was time for me to visit the orphanage my brothers and I were placed in back in 1963 when I was four years old. My father was unable to look after three boys and work and in those days’ day- care-centres where few and far between. The decision to place us in an orphanage being made due to the fact that my mother had passed away from a very sudden and unexpected heart attack.

The gate house and entry to Marsh Memorial Homes

I write about my experience of the home in the blog entitled “The boy that loved Rabbits – Facing my shadows” … to read the story follow this link: THE BOY THAT LOVED RABBITS

The Brand boys from top to bottom, Peter, Alan

and Gary Brand on the steps of Eveleigh House

I had mixed feelings about visiting the home and was pleased to see the gates open and a welcoming board indicating the directions to the reception area.

View of the gate house from inside the property.

I was welcomed by one of the staff and given the opportunity to explain my reason for the visit. I had called some months earlier and was aware that the home now has changed from an orphanage into a safe haven for abused children or children needing special care. I asked if I would be allowed to walk around explaining that the visit was mostly for me to face some of the shadows of my past and to allow me to take some photos for my blog page. I explained what work I now do and how in some small way the experiences both bad and good at the home as a small boy of 4 years old had helped to shape and form the man that now stood boldly in the reception of Marsh Memorial Homes. Now I must mention that the building now used for the reception area and offices used to be the principles home when I was resident at the home and it was a total no enter area. The stately building with the most amazing stain glass windows, grand wooden staircase leading up to the second floor still appeared both majestic and filled me with a sense of dread. Yet the friendly staff and openness and welcoming attitude made all these feelings fade into the normality of the sunny warm day in June. In had promised to make sure that no children where in the photos I took and with the feeling of a warm welcome in my heart I stepped out into the grounds to see where this journey would take me.

The reception and office - (previously the principles home)

I walked around the grounds unable to go to close to the huge red roof building with its 8 chimneys, that was the home I lived in sharing a huge hall type room with the many other boys so many years ago. The building next to this one had burnt down many years ago and the rabbit hutch and fruit orchards behind this building had been rezoned and sold and now filled with residential housing. The home also no longer has a school as was the case when it was an orphanage as the children currently in its care attend local schools. I started sub A (now grade 1) although during this year (1962) of my life my father remarried and we were removed from the orphanage and I continued with my first year at school in Parow Primary.

The residential building I was housed in as a child

I remained satisfied to take pictures of the buildings from the outside allowing the memories to flood over me.
• The white bread served with cold milk and white sugar as a special treat on Sunday morning for breakfast.
• Rabbits in a rabbit hutch also locked into cage reminding me that I felt no different than a caged rabbit.
• A loving kind senior boy that had taken me under his wing and became my protector while living at the home.
• A tree house in the fruit orchids,
• A pray mantis on the railing of the sanctuary one morning at service praying with me for my mother.
• Cookies my little brother (1 year old) baked at creche and stored for us as a special treat.
• Cold winter nights in a hall lined by rows of beds filled with sleeping boys and yet loneliness and tears.
• And many, many more

Residence - Marsh Memorial Homes

It was only later that day when on the plane flying back home to Johannesburg that I suddenly realised why the experience of my visit to March Memorial Homes was a pleasant one and why it has now become part of my journey of healing. I was totally free to enter and leave of my own free will. The gates of the beautiful gate house that has stood the test of time remained open. I cannot even remember if they were closed and locked when I was a child (I guess they must have been). The reality that I was placed there without knowing why or understanding why my mother was not coming back to care for me or ever visit me obviously has had a profound impact on my feelings about the home. The short visits on Sundays by my father after church and the pain of his departure and his abandonment of me lie somewhere deeply buried in the fabric of my heart. The memories of attending church services in the chapel on the premises are always filled with both joy and pain. Joy that perhaps my dad might visit us and the pain that he would leave us behind again.

The chapel at Marsh Memorial Homes

Now I could feel the warmth in the sun and the building no longer seemed dark and like a place to lock children up from society. I had a feeling of freedom of an institution now reaching out to children that have been abandoned or abused by their parents finding a place of love and safety.

Able to participate in society by attending school and with gates wide open welcoming rather than gates locked separating and removing.

I shall have to visit the home again and the next time I wish to become a contributor to the many needs they have in supporting and caring for children in need.

View across to the other residence - Marsh Memorial Homes




Marsh Memorial Homes strives to be recognized as a leading multicultural child and youth care centre in the Western Cape. Whilst affirming and including children of different cultures, all activities at the centre will be driven by strong Christian principles. The range of activities offered will be holistic, and will focus on the needs of the children at risk and their families, offering them hope and empowering them to contribute towards healthy and functioning communities.


Bedroom furniture and bedding
General furniture (lounge suites, dining room table and chairs, study desks)
Working second hand computers
Kitchen appliances, crockery and cutlery
Camping equipment
Gazebos (to be used at our fete day)
Clothing and shoes (ages ranging from 4-18 years)
Food Parcels
Sport equipment
Bibles (English/Afrikaans/Xhosa)
Church youth groups willing to arrange an activity or out for the children.
Volunteers to assist a child/children with a certain subject or homework.
Educational toys
Educational software/programmes

Marsh Memorial Home for Abused Children - Western Cape, Cape Town, Rondebosch

Non-Profit Organisation Registration Number: 011 270

The home now accommodates 60 boys and girls between the ages of 2 and 11.

Established: 1901

Kindly contact Marsh Memorial Home for Abused Children directly for banking details.

Heather B Goble 021 689 9301/2

084 624 2365 021 686 4501

Norton Way, Off Milner Road, Rondebosch P O Box 9, Rondebosch, 7701