Politics don’t matter in the shadow of wealth

2016-07-21 06:00
Photo: supplied Frieda Bontkowskyj with dog Mischief at the Kwa Mama Care Centre in Shakashead.

Photo: supplied Frieda Bontkowskyj with dog Mischief at the Kwa Mama Care Centre in Shakashead.

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A FREEWAY separates squalor from opulence in Ballito, with the dusty township streets of Shakashead standing in the shadow of the glitzy coastal hamlet.

Refuse stands in the shack-lined streets while across a bridge, multi-million-rand malls rise from either side of the main road.

Ballito has become a premier suburb north of Durban and Shakashead accommodates a burgeoning migrant community to provide cheap labour.

In the long shadow of wealth stands the KwaMama Care Centre, which provides a free haven for over 100 township children.

Women cook and clean at the centre and are paid in tokens, which are then redeemed for items which have been donated.

Founder Frieda Bontkowskyj said the centre survives off a R6 000 monthly donation from a church and two businesses.

“That is what we use to buy food. Other than that we use the donations of bread and other things that we get. That sustains our daily need of feeding the children,” she said.

“Things that go into the token shop are things that are given to us. It is someone else’s rubbish that can actually still be used. Because people across the bridge are as spoilt as they are, we get so much.

“Our organisation was born out of what people waste. If we catch that waste, we can have what we need to take care of the children.”

Bontkowskyj said the centre provides a haven for children in which to play and learn.

“The children were playing in the streets during the day while their mothers go to work. They are locked out of the house because she can’t leave the room open. I noticed that moms will leave the bread and jam outside the house so that they have something eat,” she said.

She will not vote in the local government elections on August 3.

“I am not going to because I don’t believe that politics or politicians can heal our country. I don’t know what we need. Giving people toilets and electricity doesn’t change things. The place is still full of dirt and neglect. If I knew I would be doing it. Maybe we just need to love our neighbours.

“I will just carry on whether or not there is a new politician in the ward. The children here need to be fed and they need to be taught English to empower them to move out of Shakas-head, but this place gets bigger every day,” she said.

“This is a violent place, but it is not unsafe. You must live nicely with your neighbour or else you will be in trouble­.”

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