A group of 9 parishioners from St Francis, one parishioner from Trinity Lynnwood and a guest from the USA, met at church early on the morning of 18 July 2013. We made our way to the meeting point at Holy Trinity Rustenberg (Fr Alan O’ Brien’s church) where we had a little “padkos”, all while waiting for the Tumelong team to lead us to their different projects.
Our first port of call was the Rustenberg Child and Youth Care Centre (Secure Care Programme) which was officially opened by the Hon MEC for the Department of Social Development, Women, Children and People with Disabilities, MME Mosetsanagape Mokomele-Mothibi on 11 March 2011. We were very impressed at this obviously newly constructed facility with all it had to offer but felt that it was completely under utilised. The centre is run and managed by the Bosasa group, with a staff of 30. We met 13 young people (one young lady aged 11 and 12 young men) who are in this centre for varying misdemeanors. There is room for 60 juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 – 18 years. If they are found guilty and their sentence goes beyond 18 they can stay at the centre until they are 21. This facility includes a modern sickbay, courtroom, classrooms, and separate quarters for boys and girls. These youngsters remain at the centre until their sentence is over. They receive schooling in literacy and numeracy and also take part in community projects. The Director of the centre Mr Solly Mphofela addressed us and indicated that once the offenders return to their communities there are no repeat offences. These young people had all written letters to Madiba which were on the wall of their Assembly area. Father Tim followed with a meaningful short talk on the value of such an institution lying in taking the chance one gets, to change one’s life and go out and make a difference as Madiba had done. The youngsters joyfully sang songs for us before launching into Happy birthday dear Madiba and Happy birthday dear Diana. (Yes, this is my one claim to fame – sharing the 18th July with this icon of our time!)The staff of Tumelong had brought a tree to be planted and this duly happened as well. Not to forget, we were given tea/coffee and some very interesting sandwiches as well!
From here our convoy of vehicles snaked our way to Kgatelontle Agricultural Co-op. This co-op was founded in 1998 – the first phase sponsored by The Dept of Agriculture and the second phase by the Bojanala District Platinum Municipality. The land belongs to the Royal Bofakeng Nation. We met Mama Rosina Maboa and Mama Julia Mafatshe who have been at the co-op since the start. There is much potential but the buildings are in a state of disrepair having been vandalized after Eskom cut the electricity to the facility. The staff of Tumelong is hoping to source funds to repair the damage, and so be able to employ better security, so that the land can be successfully farmed.
Finally we made our way to Rakatane Place of Safety in a large house in Tlhabane but on our way there we had a quick stop to see St Andrews Anglican Church which is under major reconstruction. Mama Tiny Rakatane the owner of the house fosters 10 well cared for children ranging in age from 3 – 14, two boys and 8 girls. She does not get all the grants she should receive due to bureaucratic red tape but is assisted during the week by helpers from a Community Work Program (restoring dignity through opportunities) which is sponsored by Cooperative Governance. They do the housework, cook meals, and do the laundry, so that Tiny can concentrate on looking after her children. Even though the home is quite large all 10 children and Tiny sleep in one bedroom, top to tail! Tumelong took food parcels and we donated various non perishable foods, blankets (from Trinity), and the birthday cake. Our lunch was kindly provided by the ladies of St Andrews and Tumelong provided the drinks. We were not the only visitors bearing gifts. When we arrived there was a group of women from Anglo American Platinum – Women in Mining, who had given a food/lucky box to each child and were busy painting the bedroom wall. Elizabeth Boje had much fun adding her hand print to the wall! And as we left Rakatane the next group of women from platinum mine came to join in the fun of Madiba Day.
This was a really fun day spending time together learning about what goes on in a community not too far away (1 ½ hour drive) and hopefully spreading cheer and hope to the youngsters whose lives we touched in some small way.
Jill Daugherty and Diana Higgs