Volunteers replace dilapidated wendy house

Ronelle, Matthew, 7, and Marco Malan, seen here in front of what was soon to become their new home.

The living conditions of a family of 14 have improved significantlyaftertheir dilapidated,darkandleaking wendy house was replaced with a new and bigger one, thanks to volunteers from Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

Ronelle and Marco Malan, who have 12 children from the age of 5 to 26, have been living in challenging conditions in a four square metre wendy house, “which was busy falling apart”.

In January, the R-City Cape Town organisation was launched in Bonteheuwel, aiming to bring transformation to the area, and allowing the youth to lead the way. It’s sister organisation, R-City Belfast, is currently visiting its counterparts and wanted to undertake a social responsibility initiative.

Pastor Norman Jacobs runs R-City Cape Town from his church, Beautiful Exchange, in Honeysuckle Road, Bonteheuwel. Mr Jacobs explained that the organisation had 25 youths in its Choices programme — a three-year leadership programme with its aim to help the youth make good choices.

Two boys of the Malan family are part of the group. As Mr Jacobs developed a relationship with the family, he got to know about their struggles. Both parents are unemployed, and the wooden structure they lived in was 15 years old and busy falling apart.

“I grew to love the children. When R-City Belfast came, there was money available for a social upliftment project, and we decided to look at how we can help the Malan family. We also bought a tri-bunk and installed electricity in the new wendy house. In total, with labour costs and everything, an amount of R20 000 was spent,” Mr Jacobs said.

Alan Waite, the project co-ordinator from R-City Belfast, said since his group started visiting Bonteheuwel two years ago, they have become attached to the children they work with.

“One of our members, Pierce McConnell, formed a relationship with one of the Malan children. A lot of people don’t give children like this a chance, but once you build a relationship with them, you realise how nice they are.

“We all have our families, and what we have given them today is not even one percent of what we have. When we saw their home, it was appalling. So many people lived in a small, dark, wet shack. I am very proud of everybody involved in making this difference,” Mr Waite said.

Ms Malan said daily living was a struggle for them.

“We had no windows, our door was broken, the wendy was leaking, andwehad no electricity. The new wendy is six metres by three metres, so it’s bigger and we now have electricity. The stress of our living conditions is less now. We are so grateful. We would like to thank everybody who assisted us,” she said.