Epworth is people; old and young alike dreaming dreams, and together discovering new visions of life, and is named after the family home of John Wesley where, with his brothers and sisters, they received in the years of their youth the training and upbringing which was to make them such outstanding leaders in their day.
In November 1918, two children were taken into a rented house in Malvern and the work of caring for children in need had begun. As early as 1921 the homes had been registered to take “committed” children and important decisions were being made with regard to the care of the children. The “need before creed” principle was adopted.
A similar home was opened in Germiston in the same year. Further deterioration of the premises in Pretoria and Malvern became a source of deep concern and it was decided to build five additional family homes each housing 12 children in the care of competent house parents at Germiston Children’s Village.
Great contributions were made by so many but one must single out a few. One of these was Miss Iris Humble who for many years was the general secretary of the home who although she grew older with the passing years seemed almost to become younger in spirit.
Another unique contributor to the development of Epworth Village was Rev Arthur Bath, who at the age of 65 took on the role of Warden and has left over the last eight years an indelible imprint on its development. In 1977 he dreamed of a time when there would be a qualified clinical psychologist on the staff and 1979 saw this dream come true. He grasped, with rare insight, the deep emotional deprivation of so many children and moved into fields as yet unexplored in childcare anywhere in South Africa to meet these needs.
So the dream of Epworth goes on, taking on a new form in each successive generation of those who serve sacrificially and those who are served with their ever-changing needs.
In our day we face the challenges of HIV and AIDS, children and families infected and affected by this terrible condition, the impact of child-headed homes, we also see the cost of the growing inequalities in our new democracy.
Through all this, we remain inspired by the dream and vision of effective childcare. The dream of Rev Arthur Bath has now also come true with the establishment of a fully functioning Therapeutic Centre, not just with one psychologist, but a full team of health care professionals. It has become a facility that is available not just to the children in our care but for the wider community as well.