Here are some of the photos from the Holy Cross school. It is a shack like all the other dwelling in that settlement but home and school to the children who attend there. I have also added some of the houses in the area for you to get an idea. We had great fun making paper mache footballs for the world cup. I will still download the photos from the zoo for a later email.
love and prayers
HOLY CROSS OUTREACH PROGRAMME
A TOUCH OF HUMANITY!
With the introduction of the new South African dispensation in 1994 all health institutions that were subsidized by the Government Department of Health, and as a means to sustaining their financial support, were obliged to do outreach community services, specifically to the marginalised and disadvantaged communities. The Holy Cross Frail-care and Hospice which is located within the Lady Selbrone (Suiderburg) municipal region was allocated the areas around them including an informal settlement called Maphuthoma opposite the XX in Soshanguve. This informal settlement was later relocated to Soshanguve section 10. This meant people who had come to the area initially for work were now re-located even further away from the industrial area of Rossyln making their chances of getting employment even more formidable. As a consequent the people refused to move so far away and hence went to another informal settlement area known as Plastic View, Section 4, 5 and 6.
Once in the area, ‘Plastic View’ as its name suggests, the people erected make-shift dwellings out of plastic bin bags by attaching them to planks of wood at four corners. These were dug into the mud ground as its foundation. Other dwellings were erected from cardboard boxes while others were erected from corrugated iron sheets and secured in the same style as the plastic bags. There is little shelter from the rain and storms that threaten the dwellings.
Plastic View for the sake of the municipality is also known as ‘Thorn-bush View’. This tells us that the whole area is surrounded by thorn bushes that expose its harshness, infertility and aridness. The area is served by municipal water taps located at sporadic collection points. There is no electricity in the area. They have pit toilets if any toilets at all. The area is rife with gangsters and crime is a known source of income – usually from stolen goods. Hence, Plastic View is home to thousands of homeless people who have come to South Africa on an illegal entry. In search of greener pastures parents leave their home countries and come with their children to South Africa. In the process many children are separated from their families and because they are too young to be absorbed in the formal economy and others do not have the required documents to apply for social grants they become not only physically marginalized but emotionally, spiritually and psychologically as well.
Sr Gerda, another Holy Cross Sister, during the same period was ministering to Lotus house, an orphanage for HIV/AIDS children and visited it regularly. The presence of the Holy Cross Sisters within the Maphuthoma area was a welcoming breathe of air and within a short period of time the people from the Plastic View area begged the sisters to please come and help them. The sisters while deliberating their many needy options tell the story of a child that passed away and how the parents were not able to give it a proper burial. As a result they just dug a hole and buried their child in a dignified way in front of their shack. Another saga is told of a man who was dying a miserable death in a bath under a tree outside his shack which he shared with his brother. These accounts among many were with little doubt deciding factors in the hearts, minds and conscience of the Holy Cross Sisters who decided to enter Plastic View as a response to reach out to humanity not because of pressure put on them to sustain a subsidy from the Government department of Health. The sisters knew that the Charism of the Holy Cross Sisters, the Paschal Mystery, was again to give birth among the needy, hopeless and hungry that knock at their door! This call to reach out was not deterred, when on their first visit with food, their employers were held up at gun point and had their bakkie stolen
The Holy Cross Sisters continued their exploration of the Plastic View area. As they listened to the misery and heart rendering accounts of real life experiences saturated with hopelessness and desperation the sisters decided to set up a small clinic, a crèche and an after-school day care centre.
Sr Emmanuel the manager to the site says:
“Our first visit in this informal settlement was like a coming home. People poured out their misery. They also expressed their hope as they begged us to do the same work among them as we did in Maphuthoma. The services were on demand at all levels. For us there was just no turning back. We started with the mobile clinic of its own kind, home based care and a crèche. Very soon we delivered meals on foot and then gave food parcels to those really destitute. The community stood behind us and have protected us to date. They voluntary assisted us with provision services. Eventually we set up our own shacks for a centre.”
The Holy Cross centre is a human-made mkhuku (a small make-shift four room dwelling made of corrugated iron sheets supported by wooden planks at each corner and founded upon a mud floor. It is only five foot high and …….. in circumference). Admittedly it is not the most conducive teaching environment. However, rudimentary as it appears it is home and school to all the children who attend there as it provides shelter, food, education, care, love and acceptance.
The day care centre came as a result of the need for the older children for care and support at different levels including literacy as illiteracy is still a reality in this settlement even today. The day care is care rendered to the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in this settlement and beyond its boarders. This service has enabled children who would never have had a chance of informal or formal education to access formal education. It is wonderful to witness transformation in humanity as we have witnessed in children who are disadvantaged in so many ways.