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Hundreds of children visit the Children’s Embassy every month, and so do concerned parents, caregivers and neighbours looking for advice, information or support in dealing with the challenges of raising children to become healthy, productive adults.

Many of the visitors to the Children’s Embassy seek advice for themselves or others concerning the rights of children to receive basic health, education and social services, particularly for those who do not have identity documents, either because they have migrated from another country or because, like many township dwellers, they were not registered at birth. Staff and volunteers work closely with them to help determine their legal status, obtain the required documentation, and access the services they desperately need.

However, as busy as the Children’s Embassy has become, it is only open during the daytime and shorter hours over the weekend and on public holidays – times when children are often subjected to even greater risk of abuse at home! In response, we launched the Botshabelo Child Crisis Line, believed to be South Africa’s first ever 24/7 emergency call service for children at risk that is run by a community for its own children. The toll-free line is operated by well-trained first responders who live in Munsieville and have a detailed knowledge of the community as well as the professional services that are available locally to help children through what can be a most distressing experience. The Botshabelo line regularly receives calls reporting alleged rape, violence and kidnap as well as serious neglect.