Residents of Hangklip Court in Hanover Park have started an aftercare for the community’s children.
“It just came to my mind that we are losing our children,” says Juanita Abrahams, who came up with the idea. “There was nothing to occupy their minds, and there was no level of respect from them. I just thought we needed to do something and everybody said yes.”
Now she and her neighbours, Nazeem Baker, Xavier Uren, Adelaide Beukes, Waleed Sakier, Carin Abrahams and Zakirah Crouch run various activities for neighbourhood children as Ignite the Park.
Ms Crouch said: “We had what seemed like endless meetings to put our plans in place and we started the programme knowing exactly what we will do.”
Children from neighbouring blocks, including Johndown Walk and Galway Court, are now also part of the programme.
The group held an official launch on Monday March 22 with a family fun day. They have weekly themes that expose the children to a range of activities.
“We hope to identify talent and get them into a formal programme, like ballet schools, for example,” Ms Crouch said.
The 140 children, who range in age from 2 to 15, get help with their school work and transport to extramural activities. Mr Uren checks that the children get to and from school safely.
Ms Abrahams said: “I remember as a child not wanting to go home from school, as I knew there would be nothing to eat. My heart’s desire is to make sure all the children here are fed when they come from school. We must feed their minds and tummies.”
Ignite the Park also plans to start taking the children on excursions.
“Some of the children don’t even know what the Waterfront looks like,” said Mr Baker. “Their parents cannot afford to take them out. Our aim is to intervene before the children become part of Hanover Park statistics for all the wrong reasons, like gangsterism.”
Zenariah Williams, 12, said being with Ignite the Park, was something she looked forward to every day.
“I finish at 5pm at the madressa, and then I come straight here. It is too boring at home, and I have made so many friends,” she said.
Jay Z Fisher, 12, said: “I know it is dangerous, but before Ignite, I used to sit on the terminus. I want to thank everybody involved for bringing Ignite to our court.”
Keziah Brinkhuis, 10, added: “The atmosphere in the community is better since Ignite started.”
Call Ms Abrahams at 068 552 3936 for more information.