A Rocklands community organisation hopes its programme through which they employ youth to keep their area clean can be implemented across Mitchell’s Plain.
Amazing Ants Arts and Culture Academy has youth sweeping, picking up litter and serving meals to their neighbours.
Co-founder Basil Williams said unemployment and the lack of opportunities were root causes for gangsterism, substance abuse, crime and grime.
“Our main focus is job creation for our people in our area. Thereby having a clean and safe environment,” he said.
The 11-year-old organisation was co-founded by Mr Williams and Jeremy Jacobs, who counselled youth in Strandfontein. They hosted holiday programmes with games, activities and fed children.
Mr Jacobs said he would walk alongside young people, who fought poverty, drug addiction and faced losing their families and homes.
He said the youth need someone to believe in them and guide them.
“I help them finish school, go to college, get their learners and drivers’ licences,” he said.
Mr Williams said it had been a team effort to contribute to the upkeep of their community.
“We want to give them a sense of purpose and belonging so that they don’t go to the gangs and damage the environment,” he said.
He said Rocklands was extremely dirty and they decided to put shoulder to the wheel and started sweeping in front of his door in Tigermouth Street.
Mr Williams said in the past three years they had grown to having registered 200 youth on their database and employ five people and feed their neighbours with donations received.
They had a single donation of bibs, brooms and daily donations of porridge and food.
“Sometimes we dig into our own pockets but we want to encourage and ensure we groom these young people into productive members of society.”
He said they would like to help youth find employment and become self-sufficient.
“We want to perhaps start a youth business chamber where we can encourage entrepreneurship. Help them fill in the paperwork and make something of themselves,” he said.
A Strandfontein man, who did not want to be named, said Mr Jacobs saved his life.
About six years ago he was suicidal, had overdosed on drugs, was desperate and was on the verge of losing his mother, girlfriend and home.
“They (his mom and girlfriend) did not accept me. I had reached rock bottom,” he said.
He was a self-employed DJ and is now employed by the academy.
He plays music and imparts his skills to the youth who hang around Mr Williams’ home.
“It was tough and I am still walking the road with the help of those around me,” he said.
Mr Williams said they try to offer an all-round experience to their volunteers, who either clean yards, do a bit of gardening, groom the hair of a few elderly people in the area weekly; and deliver food to their seniors’ doors.
They also offer their services to residents in Tafelsig, when they have surplus, to distribute food.
They are in need of wheelbarrows, gloves, reflector bibs, support to help more young people and funds to pay their salaries.
Mr Williams said they had been to local councillor Danny Christians, who referred them to the City’s Parks and Forests department, who said their budget was depleted.
“We are in the process of seeking sponsorship and support to make this project work,” he said.
For more information and to donate call Mr Williams on 073 547 1142.