Squatter-camp visit a big eye-opener

2015-06-18 06:00

I RECENTLY visited a couple of local informal settlements (squattter camps) doing charity projects with the Gift of the Givers and it was a huge learning curve and eye-opening.

We first visited underprivileged communities around Northdale and the Jika Joe informal settlement. Although I was recognised there because of my sport background and because of the job I do I found it easy to interact with them and was somehow touched by many things.

Firstly, the conditions are bad, inhuman, unbearable and unhealthy.

In places like Jesmondene squatter camp (near Panorama), Malivana (behind Eastwood Garage and near Cinderella Park) and Esitimeleni (Panorama) I wish our officials from local government would pay them a visit just to observe the conditions.

In Jesmondene squatter camp and at Esitimeleni, conditions are so bad that it is impossible for any human being, especially children to live there. I was very touched and shocked to see the number of young children there during the day and on weekdays.

Most of them do not attend pre-primary school and just loiter around, unattended until their parents come back from work late in the afternoon.

Their parents rely on the neighbours to look after their children for the day and without anything to eat or anything to play with.

I became very emotional when some of the children and their neighbours asked me when am I going to come back and organise something for them to play with. I realised that at least one or two hours’ coaching clinics in soccer, athletics or netball will do the trick and keep them busy.

To make them take part in sport will also make them forget about their miserable conditions. I also believe that starting a sports programme, a feeding scheme and a community garden will somehow bring changes and happiness to these communities.

A number of unemployed ladies from these areas agreed and said they will accept any community projects that will bring change.

They believe a sports project will keep their children off the street, healthy, fit and busy. They also believe an ongoing community garden will keep a lot of community members busy, put food on the table or bring a little bit of profit to the community.

However, I can’t do it alone. Also the Gift of the Givers may be overstretched and cannot do it alone. To our respective departments, local businesses , municipality, councillors, churches and communities leaders, let us all join hands and do something for these communities, especially for their children to change their lives.

Feel free to bounce your ideas on me or if you can help contact me give via my e-mail jerryb.barnes228@gmail.com or on 083 521 9553

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