This article is written by Maureen Adam following her visit to townships in Wellington and NorSa Community Care Centers.
In April this year I joined the organisation, Better Future, on a journey to Wellington, a one hour drive from Cape Town. South Africa has a special place in my heart and I spent many holidays there. This was the opportunity to see and understand the reality of life in the townships. The goal of the trip was to take a close look at the charity NorSa and to assess its suitability to set up and run Buzz Zuid Africa.
After a few days in Cape Town, I met with the rest of the group in Wellington, a pretty town, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the wine district. On our first morning we enjoyed the sunshine as we walked to the NorSa headquarter where we met Marietjie, the founder and driving force behind NorSa. She is an amazing woman; as passionate about what she is doing as the day she started her charity in 2006. Her team ooze the same passion and is balanced with a healthy dose of fun and laughter. NorSa’s aim to changing the destiny of the children they work with and provide an oasis of safety to some of the most vulnerable children in the townships in and around Wellington. The adversity and challenges they face on a daily basis are beyond imagination.
A ten-minute drive took us to a township and there amidst the poverty, dirt and squalor was the pride of NorSa. A bright and clean Community Centre offering day care to children of all ages from babies to school leavers. They receive healthy meals and where necessary clothes. Happy smiling faces filled the playground, class rooms and nursery. For the older children there are classrooms with computers and a quiet place to study after school with positive messages hanging in every available space, encouraging the children to meet their potential and escape the cycle of poverty.
It was a different story when we walked through the township to the soup kitchen where we saw a line of hungry looking children queuing quietly for what was probably their only meal of the day. In all probability, they will have to share their bowl of porridge with their family. The scene was heart wrenching and will remain etched in my memory for many years. Our next stop in the township was at one of the foster homes they own. Each home looks after 5 – 7 children coming from traumatic backgrounds of neglect and abuse. Some of these children are HIV positive and are lovingly looked after by their “foster mama”. These selfless women, live in the homes and give not only food and a clean home to them but love and a feeling of security and a semblance of family life.
The next two days were spent listening to the stories and ambitions of NorSa, visiting another township and looking at ways for NorSa to become financially sustainable for the future. Buzzwomen looks like becoming a reality and by the time we left, our group was committed to helping NorSa in whatever way we can.
It was an intense and uplifting journey and above all, I was inspired by the women of NorSa for whom their work is not a just a job, but a way of life.