Wimpie Bonzaaier, a 74-year-old leader in the Retreat community, was the guest of honour at a recognition ceremony held for community workers who have had an impact on others.
The ceremony took place at the Retreat community centre on Sunday 10 November in honour of Wimpie, Johanna Carelse, Chantal Geland, Jennifer Stacey and Pat Daniels; all of whom have been described as influential residents.
“It was actually a big surprise, and when I looked at the faces, I remembered most of them. Most of them come from the time when I was the supervisor at the crèche,” says Wimpie.
A resident, Lucille Haupt, who helped organise the event, said the crèche she attended and the after school programmes hosted by Wimpie and other teachers worked well to keep them off the streets.
“We used to go to crèche and he was one of the crèche teachers. They had an afternoon programme, and after crèche, we would run there and work on his nerves and the other teachers’ nerves,” she explains.
“Without us noticing at the time, they taught us to have confidence and prepared us to speak in front of audiences and work in teams. We are so grateful for what they have done, and we do not even want to think where we would end up without their teaching,” she adds.
Wimpie, who now works with youth at Pollsmoor Prison, says he was simply content working with children. “It was a dream to work with children. I was not raised by my mother and father, and so it was a dream for me to be a father to as many children in the community.”
His ability to continue working, he attributes to a life well lived. He has seven children of his own, played rugby for the Western Province and became a South African Judo Champion in his heyday.
Lucille believes that it is people like the ones who were honoured who contribute towards creating good, well-rounded communities. “We want to tell the community leaders that they should continue with afternoon programmes to keep children off the street. They laid the foundation for us,” she laments.