Bid to turn abandoned building into safe space for women and children

Date:

Action SA’s Ndlambe branch, together with 16 residents, spent Friday, April 28 cleaning up an abandoned Department of Public Works property.

GOOD SAMARITANS: Port Alfred residents spent a day of their long weekend helping clean up an abandoned property that could soon be utilised as a safe house for women and single moms, as well as a baby drop-off and cluster foster home for children. From left, Warren Venter, Iviwe Mlumiso, Xolisile Ngangatho, John Tweedie, Rose Bartlett, Mngaliso Stengile, Pierre le Roux, and Joseph Maziyaziya. Picture: SUPPLIED

iHire generously sponsored power tools for the cleanup campaign, which was launched by ActionSA and supported by residents and other local businesses.

ActionSA Ndlambe coordinator, Pierre Le Roux, said the abandoned property was a security concern for neighbouring homes. “This building is now being used as a base for druggies and people with babies are using it as a shelter. It’s being used to gain access to the neighbouring homes,” Le Roux told Talk of the Town. 

Le Roux said that despite reporting vandalism at the property to the authorities, nothing had been done. “We’ve been talking for a while about starting a cleanup campaign because we believe that if you clear up a place, that assists with safety and visibility of movement.”

Le ROux said ActionSA focused on fixing things.

“We can’t wait for the government, who have been promising to come and do the maintenance but never do: it’s time for us to take action. There’s nothing illegal in making your environment safe and secure, especially if the government does nothing,” he said. 

Le Roux said LifeHouse – an offshoot of  Grace and Truth Church – had written to Public Works, seeking permission to use the property for the benefit of the community. 

“They have submitted a proposal to use the property as a safe place to support single mothers with their children,” he said. 

LifeHouse is a registered non-profit company started by Grace and Truth Church in May 2021 (https://graceandtruth.co.za/lifehouse/) . Its board consists of seven volunteers who help in various projects to support and minster to vulnerable women, single mothers and children. 

LifeHouse Port Alfred representative Kayla Handley said a local resident had told them about the derelict property. “Our goal from the start has been to open a big centre that consists of a safe house for women and single moms, a baby drop-off and cluster foster home for children. We have not yet found a suitable property,” she told TOTT.

“When fully restored and secured, this empty property will be suitable to be used as a safe place for such women and single mothers with their children. There are often times when they do not have a secure place to stay. We aim to equip them with enabling skills to get back on their feet and provide counselling and prayer while they are staying there,” Handley said.

LifeHouse submitted their proposal in March and are currently awaiting for approval from the Department of Public Works, Handley said.

Le Roux said the property could also be used to grow food. ActionSA also plans to set up a skills training hub there to keep children off the street. 

“We have a lot of boys walking around in these streets up to no good who are really hungry. They also need support in their schooling, so there are a lot of positive things that can be done with this base,” Le Roux said. 

“It is a beautiful, powerful community project. We’ve updated the property owners on the progress and we trust that they will see that they can partner with us to restore this beautiful property and restore its status as a place of authority in the community and a place to serve our people,” he said. 

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