In a nutshell
Blikkiesdorp is a temporary relocation area near Cape Town, approximately 50km outside of the city, and is “home” to more than 2400 under-resourced families who have lived there in abject poverty since 2007. Many of the residents do not qualify for social housing. Amidst the appalling living conditions, high unemployment rate, substance abuse, gangsterism and other criminal activities, there is a sense of hopelessness that perpetuates the cycle of poverty. The community identified their own specific needs for assistance such as food security, social services, pre-school and healthcare. In response, in 2009 HOPE Cape Town established Blikkiesdorp Community Outreach Project. Blikkiesdorp Community Outreach Project is a container village and community food garden, which aims to empower and enable the Blikkiesdorp community to address their needs.
What we do
Blikkiesdorp Community Outreach Project provides a school-readiness program for 30-40 children per annum. The children attending this school-readiness program are beyond the school entry age of 6 or 7, owing to non-possession of the required documentation, such as a registered birth certificate; or their parents' reluctance to enrol them at a public school. The children are taught basic numeracy and literacy, play therapy, art and more importantly social skills. They receive nutritious meals twice-daily, the menus are prepared by a nutritionist. An important component of this project is that the social worker acts as a go-between for families and various government departments, to assist the children and their families with their social needs such as grant applications; family violence and/or abuse. Many of the children, who are professionally assessed by HOPE Cape Town's occupational therapist, present with neuro and other developmental delays. The occupational therapist recommends either individual or group therapy for these children, which she conducts with them on site.
A safe space is provided in the afternoons for children attending school from Grade 1 to Grade 3. The after-school care facility is managed by volunteers who supervise homework and coordinate games and play time. In addition, meals are provided to the children. This meal is often the only decent daily meal these children receive.
The school holiday program is for children in primary school. The holiday program enables parents to have peace of mind, as it provides children with a secure environment where they can receive life skills and social skills, while playing games coordinated by vetted adult volunteers.
Soccer and life-skills are combined into a tri-weekly program for boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15. Two afternoons a week are spent with the children practicing football and engaging with HOPE Cape Town’s community health workers in discussions on topics such as personal hygiene, nutrition, leadership traits and dealing with conflict. The teams play league matches on Saturdays; the transport, activities and preparation of refreshments are all supervised by adults from the local community.
A “Tweeny” club has been designed for girls aged 9 to 14. Facilitated by the social worker, this peer learning group gathers to discuss challenges these girls experience within themselves, their homes, schools or community. Having agreed to confidentiality and non-judgemental support, the conversation circle enables the young girls to talk openly about issues that could create conflict and discomfort if discussed in an environment where they feel less safe.
How we do it
Community development is primarily directed towards, and in favour of the poor, the powerless and the oppressed. Change must be achieved through a participatory process wherein the whole community, or as many people as possible, are involved in the development process. HOPE Cape Town begins and builds upon local, small and concrete issues, those which the people who make up the community want to do something about. We emphasise intensive and disciplined engagement with the community – from the identification of the issue and the clarification of the issue to the decision-making on the course of action and implementation. Central to the process is the development of awareness, and it is through the interaction between theory and practice that a community’s consciousness is progressively raised.
We recognise that the most learning and radical change takes place when a community experiences dissatisfaction with some aspect of their present life. Often the first plan of action will solve some aspects of the problem, but not deeply enough to address the root causes of the problem. By establishing a regular cycle of reflection and action in which the community is constantly analysing the situation critically, the community becomes further capacitated to effectively transform their daily lives. This evolves into a dynamic process in which education and development are thoroughly interwoven. The action-reflection cycle acknowledges that each person has a contribution to make, and tries to help each community become more capable and committed to transformation.
What we have achieved
In the last three years:
82 children who previously did not have any form of formal schooling, were successfully prepared for school and enrolled in local primary schools.
188 primary school children who attend school regularly (minimal absenteeism) and who have satisfactory academic achievement, were equipped with full school uniforms, backpacks, books and stationery for school.
352 cooked meals are served to children between the ages of four and eight – often this is the only meal these children receive in a day.
28 pre-school children receive individual therapy or group therapy from the occupational therapist.
What we have learned
Many educators, health officers and development workers have wrestled with the problem of apathy and fatalism in the individuals and groups they wish to reach. The HOPE Cape Town method was developed in an attempt to understand and overcome the root causes of the problems in poor communities, by looking critically at the information supplied directly from these communities.
The basis for conscientization is when the community develops a critical awareness of their own situation and stimulates the search for solutions to their own problems. Whenever a community is able to suggest something concrete that they can do regarding one of their problems, HOPE Cape Town encourages the action, participates as fully as possible in it, and helps the community to evaluate it afterwards. Most of the projects have arisen out of this approach to education, health care and development, but the projects are not ends in themselves. They are the beginning of the process for critical awareness and therefore always need to be seen in this light.
A special thank-you to Marlene Whitehead, of Hope Cape Town, for compiling this project profile. For more information on the Blikkiesdorp Community Outreach Project, please contact:
Doctor Izane Reyneke: firstname.lastname@example.org