Miranda Jordan-Friedmann became acutely aware of children’s rights while attending law classes in the early 1990’s at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a time of excitement and upheaval in the politics of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela and the ANC, amongst other parties and entities, had been unbanned and were all jostling for attention. It was a time of fierce activism at universities and other academic institutions throughout South Africa. Almost everyone at the time was aligning themselves to a cause – almost any cause – as the political turmoil was diverting attention away from other societal issues.
While working for Linda Goodman at the Goodman Gallery, Miranda was given the leeway by her employer to attend rallies and marches where she, with many other like-minded people, started becoming vocal about the most vulnerable in society – the children.
The horrific abuse case of baby Samantha in 1994 saw this group of activists uniting to form and found the Child Abuse Action Group where Miranda became a director. This became a hard hitting advocacy group with much more radical-type protests. This Group made sure that the Samantha case and others were highlighted in the media. Children’s rights were now receiving mainstream media attention – their activism started paying dividends.
Three years later saw Miranda evolve from pure activism to that of becoming more involved in service delivery. She joined Women & Men against Child Abuse in 1997 where she presently holds the title of executive director.
In 1999, Miranda, largely influenced by the work of the Teddy Bear Clinic, initiated a unique project in Boksburg – the first Kidz Clinic project. She identified this area as being largely under-serviced with abuse cases being sent to Pretoria. This clinic offered a one-stop service – from treatment to prepping for court cases – for free.
The next clinic was established in the Alexandra township, followed by Orange Farm, Duduza and Verulam in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Each clinic operates in a manner best suited to service the diverse interests of that community which includes all spectrums of race.
“We have just opened our sixth clinic in the Moot in Pretoria and I am not too sure when and where the next challenge will be upon our doorstep. The incredible thing about the growth of the Kidz Clinic projects is that it does just take you over. You cannot really set your goals as the opportunities just arise and challenge you,”says Miranda.
“It is amazing that after 14 years in this field you are still surprised at the different types of abuse cases that still emerge – take the furore of the initiation classes and bullying at Parktown Boys High. That mother who broke that story is incredibly brave. She is still receiving abusive calls which once again demonstrate that we need to all remain vigilante. If that is happening at a private school can you imagine what is happening in government schools?”, says Miranda, refusing to become any less vocal in advocating the rights of all children.
With a total staff complement of 30, Miranda manages the six Kidz Clinics with complete support from her clinic personnel and the dedication and passion of the small head office component which manages the overall administration and fundraising. The Kidz Clinics accept an average of 45 new cases of child abuse every month with over 170 follow-up sessions conducted per month.
Miranda adds, “One does not choose this line of work, it chooses you. Regardless where I may be in the future, I remain passionate that the service the Kidz Clinics offer remains accessible, and free.”