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Changing lives in a Township

Last week I visited all Good Hope Volunteer projects in the Hout Bay area of South Africa. I spent most of my time meeting with the staff and interacting with the children from our Hout Bay Children’s Programmes.
These programmes consist of two very special educational institutions:

  • a daycare centre for babies to 7-year-olds,
  • an aftercare school for vulnerable children from the local township.

Our Hout Bay Children’s Programmes are located in a small township, home to approximately 50 000 people living in shack housing, with some government subsidy housing. These are houses that have been built by the government and are given to low-income families. About half of the families here suffer from unemployment and the majority are unskilled. Many do not have access to services including water, sewerage, and electricity. The unemployment, lack of education, pollution, and diseases are existing problems directly impacting the lives of everyone in this community.
Fortunately, this township is also home to two safe havens for the children of this vulnerable community.

The daycare centre cares for and feeds approximately 300 underprivileged children in a loving environment, equips them with basic life skills, and prepares them for formal school. A few non-profit organisations assisted in empowering members of the community to become competent educators at the centre. The kids spend their time with teachers in 11 classrooms and well-equipped, green playgrounds. 

The aftercare school was initially intended to be an orphanage but a partnership developed between non-profit organisations and members of the community. This partnership equips and empowers children through education, and they are offered holistic support which includes their families, resulting in mutual  benefit to all. This home of hope initially offered children a balanced meal and homework support in a safe space. With members of the community involved, this safe space turned into a purpose-built campus with a reinforced teaching system, a library for the children, playgrounds, a kitchen and a vegetable garden under constant development to make this campus sustainable for all. Ninety percent of the staff are residents of the township, but the non-profit organisations also collaborate with local community groups, giving back to the community by providing a range of workshops and skills training.

During my visit, I saw young adults training to become baristas and some community members landscaping a vegetable garden making use of crop rotation. The spirit of empowerment affected me greatly during my visit and inspired me to share the story of the kindness I witnessed changing the world for this community in Hout Bay. I don’t think there is an end to this story, and together we can further empower and uplift struggling communities.
The current pandemic has made us especially cognisant of kindness, compassion and helping others around us, which underlie the act of volunteering. Our volunteers participating in these two projects are immersed in the act of kindness and are constantly improving the lives of not only the children but the entire community with a shared spirit of empowerment.
Here our volunteers also learn the true meaning of African kindness: “Ubuntu” - a Zulu word from the phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” which means: I am because you are, and a person is a person through other people.

Edward Julius (Support Coordinator)
The Good Hope Volunteer Team

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