Resource centre to break learning barriers

Volunteers paint the outside of the Hazendal community centre.

A community-based organisation is hoping to break the barriers of learning with the establishment of a resource centre.

Breaking Barriers Community Outreach was started by Vivienne Swartz, a Bokmakierie resident, who used to help children with their school research tasks at her home.

When the need grew beyond her laptop and computer, as more pupils needed this service, Ms Swartz was inspired to start an organisation for this purpose. Finding a dedicated space for a resource centre was a challenge, but she never imagined that sharing her vision would make a facility available in a short time.

On Saturday February 11, volunteers gathered at the Hazendal community centre to give it a well-deserved spruce-up, in preparation for Breaking Barriers to move in.

The City of Cape Town granted Ms Swartz a three-year lease of the building, and her organisation has already partnered with others to use the premises effectively.

The resource centre will not only help children with free access to technology – a partnership with an organisation called Wordworks will see retired teachers volunteer their time to assist those struggling with their school work.

The centre will also be used to offer the youth and adults skills and personal development.

A women’s group will also be operating from there.

All of this, Ms Swartz said, was to break the poverty cycle to avoid drug abuse and gangsterism.

Said Ms Swartz: “The process started in March last year. It was just an idea that I had. I drive past the Hazendal community centre often, and realised nothing was happening here. The building was empty for a long time. I then approached our previous ward councillor, Suzette Little, to ask about leasing the premises. Then, in September last year, I approached Eugene Walker, founder of Ikamva Ubomi, as a friend of mine suggested I ask for his assistance in setting up the resource centre. I just went in faith at that time, because I didn’t even have access to the building yet. Mr Walker spoke to me and made it sound like it happened already. I had no budget, and all of it was just a thought, but God has opened all these doors,” Ms Swartz said.

She added that the growing concern of crime, drug abuse, unemployment and lack of resources in her community all pointed to the “desperate need for an intervention programme”.

The project partners include Ikamva Ubomi, the Department of Social Development, Sisters 4 Sisters, the City of Cape Town, Wordworks, Goldstar Entertainers and the neighbourhood watch.

Ward 49 councillor, Rashid Adams, said the resource centre was ideally placed, which made partnerships with other organisations and institutions easier.

“Spes Bona High School is right opposite it, as well as the Department of Social Development, and with the new residents of the Hazendal housing project, which is across the road, this place has so many advantages. The community and the other institutions can play a major role. Young people are often found sitting under a tree near the centre and do all sorts of negative things, such as smoking dagga in the canal. With the resource centre, they will find something to do with their idle hands. This place has so many prospects. I will also see how the City can assist with an upgrade to the road and the clearing up of the vacant piece of land next to it,” Mr Adams said.

Mr Walker believes education is the key to end the violence in the community and is excited about this partnership with Breaking Barriers. “As Ikamva Ubomi, we will always support educational programmes, because even in the Bible it states that ‘my people will perish because of a lack of knowledge’.”