Image (c) Creative Commons Flickr/megantrace
Nestled amongst lush vineyards and idyllic mountains, Stellenbosch is a gem of a tourist destination, home to one of the country's top universities and a place of abundance for those lucky enough to share in its riches. Sadly there is a vast social and economic contrast between our communities in Kayamandi and Vlottenburg on the one hand, and the well-heeled streets of Stellenbosch's wealthy neighbourhoods on the other - a stark example of the economic inequality that still defines South African society.
Living without hope
Our learners face the obvious socio-economic challenges associated with living in underserved and underdeveloped communities. These include (but are not limited to) income poverty, inadequate and unhealthy housing conditions, a deficient schooling system, high crime rates and many forms of abuse.
Poor lifestyle choices also lead to unhealthy friendships, drug and alcohol abuse, high school drop-out rates and reckless sexual behaviour resulting in unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
One of the most pervasive legacies of the Apartheid era is a certain defeatist acceptance on the part of communities living in dire social and economic circumstances. This "learned complacency" is based on a very real lived experience, where generation after generation remains stuck in a cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity, and it often weakens communities to the extent that they give up on taking responsibility for their own welfare.
Lack of access
Young people growing up in under-serviced communities have little exposure to cultural events, places of societal and historical interest, and other sources of learning. Furthermore, a lack of access (and general ignorance) towards mass media sources (television, radio, newspapers, and internet) prevents a knowledge and understanding of current events.
No role models
The majority of adults that interact with the youth are blue collar workers, farm workers, domestic workers, or unemployed. These adults have not completed school and testify to not being able to assist their children with school work or career planning, therefore the crucial years of child development are left void of academic mentors or role models.
Because of the impact that poverty has on so many aspects of their lives, children suffer in the short and long-term and few dream of a brighter future.
More about our communities in:
Situated at the edge of Stellenbosch, Kayamandi ('sweat home' in Xhosa) is regarded as the second oldest township in the Western Cape. The first people moved to the area in 1940, and today there are over 50 000 mostly Xhosa-speaking residents.
Population growth is 10% annually, but the physical neighbourhood has not expanded significantly so that an increasing number of residents live in an area of just over one square kilometer. It is mostly an informal settlement with a large contingent of migrants from the Eastern Cape seeking employment. The unemployment rate is estimated at 40% and average monthly income per working household is estimated at R1,000. A household has on average 7 adults and children.
Most of the employed work in factories, farms, restaurants, and as domestic workers. There are about 50 different church groups in Kayamandi and a fair number of shebeens (taverns) to match.
Housing and unemployment are persistant troubles, as are issues including HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, drug abuse, illiteracy, malnutrition, crime, and a high incidence of single-parent households. Despite these problems, a spirit of hope of community continues to exist in Kayamandi.
Situated approximately 8km from Stellenbosch, Vlottenburg is surrounded by wine farms, beauty and - sadly - some severe poverty.
The majority of the people living in Vlottenburg are farm labourers. The poor call it the "forgotten place" - a place high unemployment and inadequate housing. People live in shacks and many have no electricity, running water or toilet facilities. Establishing proper housing and infrastructure for the Vlottenburg community is critical.
With a general lack of healthcare facilities in the area, people must go to Stellenbosch Hospital or Stellenbosch Clinic for treatment. This is a long (and expensive) journey for people who don't have access to their own transport. This means that they are often unable to get to a doctor, leaving many preventable illnesses untreated. The TB rate and HIV rate is very high and teenage pregnancies are common. Alcohol abuse and the use of the drug ëtikí affect both young and old.
Vlottenburg has a Primary School of about 500 children, but no high school. High school learners are transported daily to a secondary school in another village called Jamestown.
There are two cafés. People have to take long taxi rides to Stellenbosch to do their shopping but only some can afford this. The elderly and disabled live on State grants. Many of the children get paid foster grants once a month.
The community enjoy sport like soccer, netball and rugby, but Vlottenburg does not have proper sport facilities. There are various activities in the community like arts and craft classes, a feeding scheme, knitting classes, computer classes, HIV awareness workshops, music classes for guitar and trumpet. There are also awareness workshops for teenagers relating to teenage pregnancy, drugs and life skill workshops.*