Couple works to keep hope alive

2017-12-19 06:01
Carol and Mark Blake.

Carol and Mark Blake.

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Embrace Life, a non-profit organisation that has been working in Lavender Hill and the surrounding areas like Capricorn, Hillview and Vrygrond, is giving hope to the community and teaching people to be ­hopeful.

Embrace Life was started by Mark Blake and his wife, Carol.

Having recently been registered, the organisation will be officially launched as a registered NPO today (19 December) at Unlimited Ministries, situated on the corner of Merwe and Ensil streets in Ottery. The launch event will start at 18:30 for 19:00.

The aim of the organisation is to bring hope to communities facing numerous challenges, to bring awareness and to talk to the people at risk in the area.Some time ago, Blake started sweeping the streets every day in the early morning.

“My aim in doing this was to meet young people. This was my way to get attention. Early in the morning, that’s when you would see the youth loitering with nothing to do or looking for an easy target. So my way to get attention was to sweep the streets and everybody would be interested in what I was doing. I would explain and one person would join in. I would end up sweeping with seven or eight people, then I would use that opportunity to talk to them and encourage them. Some days I would have fewer people, but I would talk to them nevertheless. My message was simple: you might be going through a difficult time right now, but if you’re hopeful it will change. I also swept the streets because I believe cleanliness will improve our area and how people view us,” he says.

Blake did this for several years and he attracted a lot of people’s attention, leading to the creation of Embrace Life. The organisation is involved in skills development and youth empowerment.

“The organisation’s name speaks volumes about the challenges we face in our communities. We have to embrace it in order to work our way out of it. Growing up I also had my challenges, and even in my adult life I have had difficulties, but I have no regrets. My aim is to help others to move on as well. Change is within – if you’re okay inside, you can easily do anything outside. Through the organisation we want to bring hope and dignity,” he says.

“A lot of people have been changed and helped by our programmes. There is a lot of empowerment and developmental skills that we offer. There are several talk programmes that we run and we help the youth to find employment. We also run job readiness programmes to prepare the youth for work. It really gives me joy to see lives being changed. I’m patient about what I do and though we have been doing this for over a year, it just gives me joy to know that we are officially registered. We are calling on everyone that has been to our programmes to join us at the free launch,” says Blake.

V For more information call 021 701 5576.


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