A group of volunteers and community leaders have launched a project at Bonteheuwel High School to curb substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, behavioural problems, truancy and bullying among pupils.
Volunteers from Bonteheuwel are collaborating with the City of Cape Town’s Women for Change group, to see that every school in the area will have at least one of their representatives to assist either with counselling or referrals, and checking up on children skipping school.
Mumtaz Malie, one of the volunteers, said a project like this was important for the community.
“There are too many young people who drop out of school only to join gangs. Many of them get lost in the system, and some are even murdered. I have witnessed myself how some children stand on the corners in the morning, when they are supposed to be at school. We need respect and discipline to come back to our schools and in our homes and community. Teenage pregnancies are also becoming out of hand. Young people must start to be responsible. I believe our presence will make a positive difference in the community,” Ms Marlie said.
Another volunteer, Dihlnawaaz Abrahams, said teachers could not be everywhere, as they had a lot of work to do.
“We are from this area, and we are very familiar with the challenges here, that is why we can effectively help the young people. We will be the ears and eyes, and we will knock on your parents’ door if you skip school for two days without a valid reason. When boys don’t come to school it’s easy for them to be pulled into gangs. By saying that, we also realise that there are many domestic challenges at home. Some parents misuse their Sassa grants. As the community, we need to step in where we can. We also went through things, and none of our children are perfect,” Ms Abrahams said.
Mariam Safdien is 72 years old, and is well-known in the community for making sure children walk to school safely. She also reprimands the young people if need be.
“If the children see me, then they say ‘oe jinne, there is aunty Mariam’. I have been walking in the morning on my own for years, making sure the children get to school.
“There were times I phoned Law Enforcement when they are truant. The community’s children are all my children. They respect me so much because I offer the same courtesy to them,” Ms Safdien said.
Ward 50 councillor Angus Mckenzie said his office was supporting the project.
“We have launched and partnered with various programmes in Bonteheuwel to assist and make a difference when it comes to the upliftment of our people and families.
“Later this month the first 30 families will be part of the Strengthening Families programme.
“We are spending so much money on helping our families. We have a safer community, now we want to develop our community,” he said.