A Beacon Valley orphanage’s campaign to help neighbouring families raise their children could soon be rolled out to the rest of Mitchell’s Plain, says mayor Patricia de Lille.
Ms De Lille praised the 100 Homes project when she handed over a title deed to Baitul Ansaar Childcare Centre on Thursday May 24, giving it ownership of the land it has long leased from the City.
The 100 Homes project started a year ago. Baitul Ansaar’s centre manager, Bushra Razack, said it was about creating homes that were safe, loving and healthy for children and families to thrive.
“We identified 100 houses around the land and said let’s get to know these houses better. How can we better work with these households to ensure they are adequately prepared to care for their kids?”
They sent out data capturers to get information from the households – everything from income to levels of education – and created profiles for each.
The survey found 59.9% of the houses had gone a day without food, 34.6% for more than a day; 72% of residents had no matric; two thirds (66%) had hypertension, 36% diabetes and 17% arthritis, and grandmothers headed many of the homes.
“Grandmothers are looking after approximately seven toddlers at a time as the parents are away, involved in the local gangs or unable to look after the children themselves,” Ms Razack said.
“These elderly have no support in terms of managing the home or managing their own health and wellbeing. Many elderly women reported being abused and neglected.”
All the households had experienced crime directly – substance abuse, robberies, gangsterism, gun violence, death.
“It is important to note that Mitchell’s Plain has the highest level of gang-related violence in the country,” said Ms Razack.
The homes agreed on what they were willing to “pay” to get support. The payment wasn’t money but a sharing of time, skills and effort.
“We have a community newspaper and exercise groups. A walking group, once a week, when all of the ladies come out even if it is in their slippers and walk around even just to get some fresh air,” Ms Razack said.
“We’ve partnered with the University of the Western Cape dealing with all of our medical needs in our 100 homes.”
There’s also financial management workshops, cooking lessons, self-defence classes, help finding work, programmes for the youth and the elderly, an aftercare programme and a feeding scheme. Each programme costs points which households earn by giving of their own time or skills.
That way, said Ms Razack, residents had learnt that they had value, skill and something to contribute to their community.
Ms De Lille said: “I’m very proud of your 100 Homes project. We must replicate that example in the whole of Mitchell’s Plain.”
She said when she was growing up children hadn’t just been looked after by their parents but by the whole community.
“We need to get back to say that your child is my child and that a child in the community belongs to all of us.”
Ms De Lille said the City would refine the 100 Homes concept before rolling it out to other wards. Expanded Public Works Programme workers could be used for data capturing.
Eddie Andrews, Mayco member for area south, committed to starting the process in his ward, Ward 78.