In winter, Daphne Playton’s feet would hurt. Each step was an agony as she walked barefoot to school – her parents were too poor to buy her a pair of shoes.
Daphne grew up in Silvertown, Athlone, with her two brothers and nine sisters. She went to Blossom Street Primary School and Athlone High School, but she left school in Grade 8 because her father was the only one working, and he didn’t earn enough to support the family. Daphne had to find a job to help provide for her siblings.
“I had no school shoes. I would walk to school barefoot, and my feet would pain because it was winter and it was cold. It was unlike today when the children can choose what shoes to wear. It was difficult that time: only my father was working, and there was one child after the other,” says Daphne, 67, a mother of two daughters.
She landed her first job as a seamstress at Ensign clothing factory in Woodstock, where she worked for four years. A year later, she gave birth to her first daughter. She then started working at the One Penny clothing factory in Salt River and two months later left the company to work at Goldhorn Knitwear also in Salt River. When she was 24 she had her second daughter.
The company moved to Claremont before closing down. Daphne, who had worked for it for 17 years found herself unemployed.
But a week later, she started a job at Athlone Industrial, working there for five years before that company also closed. She then moved on to New Colours clothing factory and continued to work for 16 years. At the age of 51 she retired.
In 1993, Daphne started to get involved with the community because she was umemployed and needed something to keep busy.
She joined the Silvertown Neighbourhood Watch and patrolled the streets of Silvertown, Bridgetown, Athlone, Bokmakierie, and Belgravia. She also started volunteering at the Cape Town Child Welfare Society.
“We help neglected or abused children by going to their home and assessing their environment and then reported back on our findings,” she says.
Daphne now volunteers at the Athlone police station where she assists with the neighbourhood patrols both during the week and at weekends.
“I love working in the community; it is my passion. It feels nice to help people in the community,” she says.
Every Tuesday, Daphne and a group of women in the area meet to pray for an end to the ongoing crime plaguing the community.
“We pray for our community and for our country to combat the violence. The children’s parents are so depressed about so many children going into drugs,” says Daphne. “If anyone wants to get involved with the community they can come and speak to me.”
To get involved with community projects, call Daphne at 072 053 5682 or 021 637 7115.