Cape Town - Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a global charity initiative aimed at creating, finding and supporting programmes that directly improve the health and wellbeing of children, has opened a local chapter in South Africa.
RMHC has been the charity of choice of McDonald’s and its owner operators the world over for more than 38 years, and currently operates in 57 countries. Each local chapter is a separate public charity and non-profit organisation that supports the various RMHC programmes.
In South Africa these could potentially include the flagship Ronald McDonald House programme, the Ronald McDonald Family Room programme and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.
The Ronald McDonald House is a home-away-from-home for the families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment in hospital.
The houses are located within close proximity to hospitals, and offer families home-cooked meals, private bedrooms and playrooms for children as well as additional support facilities.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a room located within the hospital, near the paediatric or intensive care unit, that enables families of sick children to remain close by. Although all family rooms are different, they often feature kitchen facilities, seating areas with TVs and refreshments.
The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is a mobile clinic that provides healthcare services to children in various communities. These services often include immunisations and vision and audio screenings.
The first programme RMHC South Africa will focus on is the construction of the country’s inaugural Ronald McDonald House. The house will be located at the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Johannesburg, expected to open in 2014.
“The Ronald McDonald House is a vital lifeline for families with seriously ill children undergoing hospital treatment.... Research shows that children heal faster and cope better when their families are close by.
"Through our houses and family rooms, RMHC allows families to be supported and to stay together during their most trying times,” said Reggie Skhosana, RMHC SA chairperson.
It is anticipated that the 32-room house will cost around R15m to build, and RMHC SA will embark on a series of fund-raising activities to support the project. The first of these will be a golf day, to be held at the Randpark Country Club on November 12.
In addition to the house, RMHC SA will also launch a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in South Africa. The organisation is currently conducting research and a needs analysis to identify a pilot site for the unit.
Although McDonald's is the RMHC’s largest corporate donor, the charity relies on local McDonald’s restaurant operators to help fund portions of the annual operating costs of the houses. Over and above this, it depends heavily on the charity of the public to help grow and raise funds for its various programmes.
RMHC currently supports around 4.5 million children a year in 53 countries and regions. There are presently 320 Ronald McDonald Houses, 173 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 48 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles around the world.