Foundation pledges support for community

ClaGoo Foundation executive members, from left, are marketing manager Matthew Coordom, founder and director Bernie Clarke and finance manager Michele Goodman.

A Strandfontein non-governmental organisation has pledged to have a community kitchen up and running within the next three years.

Speaking at a lunch at the local community hall on Women’s Day, Wednesday August 9, themed “We shall and have overcome!”, founder and director of ClaGoo Foundation, Bernadette Clarke, said they run an informal soup kitchen but were not giving people’s dignity back.

She said it would be run like the old government kitchen in Roeland Street, whereby they would take care of their community.

“We feed not only residents from informal settlements but the vulnerable within the community of Strandfontein, like the elderly or those battling to make ends meet, even though they live in a house,” she said.

The recently established foundation aims to honour and empower heroes in a modern-day society.

“I’m all for restoring someone’s dignity, those who live in backyards, in rooms and have fallen on hard times,” she said.

Ms Clarke said they were going to look for a venue, where they could teach the destitute to cook nutritious meals and where they could learn arts and crafts.

Guest speaker, Albert Fritz, the MEC for Social Development who attended with his wife, Diane Fritz, encouraged women to claim their responsibilities as individuals and to grab opportunities to empower themselves.

He said the bulk of discussions during Women’s Month, revolved around casting women as being “victims” and “helpless”.

Mr Fritz said the most horrific statistics on gender-based violence, rape and abuse were hauled out during this time.

He said South African women enjoyed some of the most progressive social and legal protections under the constitution, and that great strides had been made to create spaces for women to exercise their rights and advance.

“We need to start having an honest conversation with women regarding their responsibility within the family and community,” he said.

Mr Fritz said women played an important role in society, starting with their family unit, which, while it could take various forms, the reality was that children were (mostly) raised by single mothers.

Statistics SA showed a growing trend that 62% of births registered in 2016, had no information about the children’s father.

“Women therefore are heading many households and are playing the role of bread-winner and care-giver. This is a massive responsibility, and is one which women and communities are paying a massive social cost for,” he said.

He said many children in juvenile detention centres, were young boys from households without father figures.

“This Women’s Month, I am making a call for men to play their part in supporting the single mothers of our children. We cannot continue to sit back silently, and watch women struggle to raise our sons and daughters alone.

“We cannot continue perpetuating the culture of watching women live in fear in our communities, terrorised by the very children who grew up in broken homes and are now the violent criminals and gangsters terrorising the community,” he said.

Mr Fritz said while his department would do what it could, no amount of government support could replace the personal responsibility and agency that women must show.

“If we are to change the narrative of ‘women victimhood’ into one of women empowerment, then we must continue to work in partnership,” he said.