So when Tsholofelo Community was approached in January 2007 to go into another squatter camp called Nkaneng which started in 1997 and is situated about 40 kms from Phokeng next to the Amplat Mines, it felt it was able to withdraw from Freedom Park as all the projects are being run by the people of Freedom Park and 3 professional nurses are running the clinic which still belongs to Tsholofelo Community. We are still very much involved on a consultative level.

Nkaneng Squatter Camp

Nkaneng (the place of the stubborn people) has a population of about 15 -20,000 people, most of whom are from the Eastern Cape – Xhosa speaking, Lesotho and Mozambique and a few from Zimbabwe. There is no infra- structure. They receive water in tanks twice a week from the municipality. Everyone comes with buckets and barrels to collect it. There are no schools and just one crèche when we arrived last year. This new camp is also very poor, with just tin shacks, black dirt pathways, children playing albeit happily, in all the filth among goats, chickens and tons of rubbish.

Nkaneng Squatter CampNkaneng Squatter CampNkaneng Squatter Camp

Meetings were held with the local municipal Counselor to discuss the needs of the community. As the children are just walking the streets, (when they are often abused) and have so little to eat Bro Joseph suggested that 5 people, who would be interested in running crèches, could offer their own sites so that tin shacks can be put up for this purpose. Bro Joseph would organize their training and help find funding to feed the children.

Other needs expressed were a clinic, adult education, small business and skills training, something to guide the youth, a community garden and of course water. They said they had an empty space in the centre of Nkaneng where the community would be happy if it were used for a new health centre and school, but first we had to get permission from the owners of the land- the Bafokeng tribe. They said that we could use that plot but whatever we put down had to be movable, in other words non-permanent.

As a result of these meetings Bro Joseph started the training of 5 volunteers from the community to do adult education in the community. Sr Georgina started a primary health care clinic on the 24th April 2007 in a tin shack-6mx4m. Two ladies from the community were trained at Freedom Park Clinic to work with her at Nkaneng clinic.

Nkaneng Squatter Camp

Nkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - Creches

In July 2007 we managed to level the piece of land and put down shipping containers which we converted into a clinic and classrooms for adult education.

Nkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - Creches

Nkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - Creches

It is now a year later. During the last year we have managed to set up 5 creches, in tin shacks 6mx3m, in different parts of the camp. 5 women who were identified by the community accepted to run these crèches as private businesses. They charge R40 a month for each child and use the money as a salary. But as several children have been orphaned due to the HIV/Aids pandemic they cannot afford this. So Bro Joseph uses some funding to pay for the poorest children and pays for the food for each of the crèches every month. The crèches have been equipped with tables, chairs, mattresses, blankets, toys and clothes for several of the children etc but the most important thing was that we managed to find a college that provided training for early learning teachers and the 5 owners of the crèches and 5 helpers managed to complete a level 1 course last year and started level 2-4 a month ago.

Nkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - Creches

Nkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - CrechesNkaneng Squatter Camp - Creches

The second thing that the people requested was some leadership courses for the teenagers. We managed to put on weekends leadership camps for several of the youth at our house in Phokeng, this year. Also a soccer league has been set up and hopefully a netball league for the girls in the next few weeks.

The third thing that the people asked for was computer classes so Sr Nomsa takes 8 laptops and an extra large battery and teaches computer classes twice a week. Otherwise Bro Joe managed to get a company called Media Works to help him with the adult education by providing literacy, and numeracy computer programmes. They do classes 4 evenings a week. There are 4 levels of this ABET (adult basic education and training) course. Last week the first 4 students received a certificate for level 1. There was a celebration where certificates were presented to them. 3 of the local people have been trained to run this programme.

Nkaneng Squatter Camp - New Adult education centerNkaneng Squatter Camp - New Adult education centerNkaneng Squatter Camp - New Adult education center

The fourth thing was the desire to develop small businesses. At present a workshop on small business skills is being arranged for those people at Nkaneng who already have a business or who would like to start one. The type of small businesses are fence making, catering, sewing, bead work. small shops etc.

Regarding health, 12 home based care givers have been trained and a primary health care clinic and an ART (anti-retroviral) clinic run by Sr Georgina are running, where patients suffering from Hiv/Aids are being assessed and treated with anti-retroviral drugs.

Nkaneng is a squatter camp where there is no electricity, rubbish collection, toilets or running water. Fortunately the Xenophopic unrest has not been experienced at FreedomPark or Nkaneng squatter camps, but regarding crime, night time can be very dangerous when periodically gangs come in and start shooting. Some months ago a gang came in shooting at random at tin shacks. One of the crèche owners was lying in bed and the bullet came through the wall of her tin shack and hit her in the leg. It smashed her femur into pieces and she has been crippled ever since. 3 other people were killed in other incidences that same night. Just a few weeks ago 10 people were gunned down over a period of 3 days. One of those killed was one of our care givers and her son, his girlfriend and her mother. It created such fear and distress among my staff and in the camp as a whole, especially the children. Life seems so worthless at times. But we feel we are here to support the most vulnerable and help even a few build a better life for themselves.