It was a bitter-sweet moment when the Hannah Cornelius Centre was opened in Ocean View last week.
The centre was a dream for Hannah’s mother, Anna, who started the Hanna Cornelius Foundation in October 2017 after 21-year-old Hannah was kidnapped, raped and murdered in May 2017.
The foundation’s Toni Raphael said Anna would have been thrilled had she been at the opening.
“She wanted something positive to come from Hannah’s death and lived to open this centre. There is no doubt she would have cried tears of joy,” Ms Raphael said.
Hannah’s father, Willem, cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony on Thursday February 28.
The centre will provide counselling and support programmes to the community of Ocean View.
Anna worked tirelessly to ensure her daughter’s legacy of compassion and care would reach those in need, and last year the foundation began counselling and support groups in Masiphumelele, Redhill and Ocean View.
The foundation had then started renovating a house in Flamingo Road belonging to Valley Development Project (VDP), a non-profit organisation that focuses on the protection and development of children and youth.
The foundation had wanted to create a community centre from which organisations could offer services to the community, but then Anna died suddenly.
Her drowning in March last year left her family and the foundation reeling (“Mom’s tragic end at sea,” Echo, March 29 2018).
Ms Raphael said renovations had been delayed as they had struggled to come to terms with Anna’s death.
However, she said, they had been determined to make Anna’s dream come true, and that was when Community Cohesion, a victim empowerment non-profit, and VDP, had offered to pay for the remaining renovations.
Community Cohesion’s victim empowerment programme and VDP’s child counselling programme will be run from the centre.
During the opening, Sue Burger, from VDP, said the opening of the centre was a community effort and she thanked the community for their involvement.
“Opening this centre was my commitment to Anna, and she should have been here to see it,” she said.
Community Cohesion director, Bronwyn Moore, said they would provide therapeutic sessions and assistance to victims of violence and crime.
“We are therapeutic social workers who are specialists in working with victims of violence and crime. This means any crime, or being witness to violence, or living in a violent place,” Ms Moore said.
Community Cohesion also helps victims of domestic violence.
VDP auxiliary social worker Juliana Rubain said the centre was much needed in the community.
“Children are exposed to so much violence, and there is no outlet. Now they have a safe haven to come to where someone will listen to them and provide them with guidelines,” she said.
Ms Rubain said they worked with various schools in the area.
It was an emotional day for Mr Cornelius, and he declined to comment.
For more information about the centre, visit the Hannah
Cornelius Foundation Facebook page or contact Community Cohesion’s Nicole at 078 090 0674 or Kashiefa at 079 386 4384 or call
Valley Development Projects at 021 783 2292.