Pastor takes gospel to the park

Douglas Steyn believes keeping the area clean will instil some pride in residents.
Douglas Steyn believes keeping the area clean will instil some pride in residents.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

This is a belief that Douglas Steyn, a pastor in Factreton lives by. Steyn (65) or Pastor Dougie as he is affectionately known, has been voluntarily cleaning the street in his area for the past two years.

But after noticing the terrible state of the local park in Glider Crescent, he decided to jump into action.

With the help of a few local residents, the group now willingly cleans all the rubble and litter in the park every week.

Steyn says he has been living in the area for the past 60 years and he wants the community to look presentable.

He explains that the park should be a recreational space where children can play freely, but he says for years this has not been the case as the park was not being cleaned.

“I want people to be proud of their area. The park and the community are neglected but we as the residents must take ownership and responsibility for their own spaces.”

Steyn says like many other areas on the Cape Flats, the community is plagued by gang activities and mentions that two rival gangs live in the vicinity of the park. He believes beautifying the park can spark a positive change in the area. “I want them to see that by cleaning the park, change is possible, and I would like them to clean up their lives,” explains Steyn.

Steyn says he finds it heart-warming when young people come to him asking how they can help. “This is the goal; this area belongs to our youth so it’s great that they want to do positive things.”

Steyn, together with his team, now also have their sights on another park two streets away from where he lives.

He says: “I have asked the police to have more programmes in the park because they bring a certain authority and it will show the community that the police has an interest in the community.

On Wednesday 18 November, Kensington police together with two organisations, The Grow Love Foundation and Velia’s Covid-19 Feeding Scheme, met with Steyn to discuss how they can partner with him on a development that came highly commended by Steyn.

On this day children from the community were also able to play in a clean park for the first time in years.

Wednesday 25 November, being the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Children, will see the park come alive with a community outreach awareness programme.

Sgt Angeline Ah-Sing, communications officer at Kensington police station, says: “We value people like Pastor Dougie who wants to partner with SAPS and now we can meet the youth and young ones especially, right there close to their own homes. A clean environment definitely has an impact of any person. Together we can grow and develop Factreton and Kensington into the community we would love to have.”

Steyn says he wants to instil the old values of respect, cleanliness and taking ownership for yourself and surroundings.

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