Jakaranda Children's Home, South African Orphanage, Losing Funding Because Kids Are 'Too White'

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The Jakaranda Children’s Home, a South African orphanage, says it’s losing funding from large companies because 70 percent of its children are white, news24.com reports.

“To us a child is a child. We don’t discriminate," Elzane van der Merwe a spokesperson for the orphanage told Beeld. "Here we have 250 children between 18 months and 18 years that need care, regardless of race or gender.”

The orphanage houses abused children who are placed in the organization’s care by court order, according to its website. The home needs 25,620,000 South African Rand ($2,954,293) a year to run.

The Jakaranda Children’s Home was told that it will lose funding because its practices don't adhere to South Africa’s policy of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), van der Merwe told news24.com.

The policy, which was implemented in 2007, is designed to accelerate economic growth by educating and training black citizens -- a large sector of the population that suffered during the apartheid.

A 2001 census showed that 79 percent of the South African population is black, 9.6 percent white and 2.5 percent Indian-Asian. Almost 20 years after the apartheid, a recent study reveals South Africa’s black majority directly owns less than 10 percent of the Johannesburg stock market, the Globe and Mail reports.

Under the BEE policy, businesses are awarded points for contributions made to programs that empower black people, news24.com reports.

Recently, new BEE policy measures have faced scrutiny by South African nonprofits.

In October, changes were made to the BEE Codes of Good Practice. Companies would only qualify for full points for donations made to 100 percent black African beneficiaries, according to The Star.

“This amendment will have a huge effect. It means if the charity benefits any Indian, white, coloured or even a Mozambican or Zimbabwean child, companies will not be able to claim points on their BEE score card,” Bridget Brun, a BEE agency head told the Star.

According to Dr. Rob Davies, South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister, the amendment was needed to transform the demographics in the workplace to better reflect those of society, he said in a statement.

For nonprofit leaders, the news challenged their organizations’ very existence.

“We don’t know the race of the child who phones us," Joan van Niekerk, head of the childhood abuse charity Childline told the Star. "It’s inappropriate to ask ‘are you black, and how black are you?’ This is a different kind of apartheid. It’s extremely distressing.”

But on Nov. 29, after citing media and public misinterpretation of the policy’s intentions, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry withdrew the controversial section, according to a department statement.

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