Mitchells Plain youth on a mission to clean up their streets

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Kids in Mitchells Plain are reclaiming their streets from gangsters by painting murals over the gang signs
Kids in Mitchells Plain are reclaiming their streets from gangsters by painting murals over the gang signs
  • A group of Mitchells Plain youths is reclaiming their area from gangsters.
  • The Stratus Youth Project, founded by Nafeesah Abrahams, is trying to bring about change by painting over gang signs on walls in their community.
  • Abrahams said she lived by the motto that "it takes a whole village to raise a child" and hoped to have other parents come on board as life coaches for the youth in the area.

A group of Mitchells Plain youth is reclaiming their area from gangsters by painting over gang signs throughout the neighbourhood.

The Stratus Youth Project was founded by Nafeesah Abrahams, 25, who grew up in Mitchells Plain. She is trying to change the narrative by beautifying the community one wall at a time.

Abrahams told News24 the project started in June last year while she was jogging to the beach and some children in the area approached her asking if they could join her.

"What started as a group of kids running with me to the beach became an eye opener for me to start a project with kids in the area to keep them occupied and busy," she said.

"Coach Nafeesah", as she is known, said she always had a passion for working with the youth and watching children in the area roaming the streets, standing on corners and selling cigarettes, she felt the need to bring about change.

"I approached a very good friend, Tasriek Williams, who grew up with me and we partnered up. I told him about my idea since we both come from a sports background and we decided to work together as sports coaches."

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The project started with a Zumba aerobic routine, which the kids loved.

Currently, the project is getting huge support from several local organisations and institutions.

Abrahams said:

We aim to create a safe and clean environment that our children can be proud of, hence the fact we do our clean-up operations regularly. Removing the graffiti from the walls is what we focus on most.

Carl Erasmus from the Atlantis 7349 Art Crew said the crew assisted Abrahams and her charges with the artwork on the walls and facilitated mural workshops with the youth in the area.

murals
Mitchell's plain youth give walls a make over by painting over gang signs in the area.
Photo Supplied

"It feels great keeping youth busy and teaching them new skills, it is great. We get to build a whole new family as many of those kids come from single-parent households."

Erasmus added the crew was always eager to help with expanding its creativeness and teaching kids the ropes.

"Many of the kids have so much potential, but they get caught up so quick in the wrong environment," said Abrahams.

The project assists more than 20 children, aged six to 17, in Rocklands with daily programmes and activities to keep them occupied.

READ | Footing the bill! Mitchells Plain coach on mission to raise funds for school kids

Residents in the area act as life coaches to the youngsters.

The children embark on a weekly street clean-up, where they use some of their acquired skills to remove gang signs in their community and repaint the walls.

According to Abrahams, all the children must fill in a profile form, so that the project could keep track of them.

"There is so much one can do with these children but with the Covid-19 lockdown, as well as limited resources, it is difficult as we are in need of various sporting equipment." 

art work
Murals painted over gang signs
Photo Supplied

She said she lived by the motto "it takes a whole village to raise a child" and hoped to have other parents come on board to help out.

The NPO said most of its donations from parents. 

"We aim to change lives and make our children proud of where they come from."

ALSO READ | The future I dream of: 7 young authors reflect on Youth Day

Besides cleaning, the children also play cricket and soccer, do exercises, dance, and get help with their homework.

With their enthusiasm, motivation and eagerness, Abrahams added she hoped the project would be around for many years and venture out into other areas on the Cape Flats to beautify their walls with beautiful murals as well.

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