Children in Powerline informal settlement were left without open land to play on after a massive land occupation in December. The children had to play on rubbish dumps or under power lines as the only municipal park is half a kilometre away and caters for hundreds of children from sections NU8 and NU10.
To discourage their children from playing on the bursting dump sites of the informal settlement in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, two parents started an educational program. The program is growing fast as more parents join. It involves feeding children after they return from school and giving them objects to draw. They are also taught life skills. It draws the children away from the rubbish dumps.
Parent Nwabisa Badi said, “Some children developed rashes all over their bodies after playing with the rubbish … We decided to give children food in my shack when they come from school. Children are happy about the food as most of them come from poor families who are surviving on the monthly social grants.”
Badi’s two-roomed shack is the centre for the project he runs with Loyiso Mbareni. “We have more than forty kids in this settlement alone … The project teaches young kids how to draw. They are supplied with all the material and items and taught how to do it. This is very practical because they paint the walls of their shacks and beautify them,” said Badi.
Mbareni said, “I operate a small scrap metal business and this should benefit the community where I am doing my business … We have discovered that most of them [children] are no longer playing with garbage.”
Last week, Nwabisa and Loyiso invited artist brothers Sakhumzi and Msindisi Nyendwana of Hand in Hand Visual Arts Gallery and Luc van der Walt of True Colours Art to hold a three-day workshop.
“We assist children between six to 12 years. We teach them how to paint and to complete the course each child has to paint bright flowers on the walls of their shack,” said Van der Walt.
Sakhumzi Nyendwana said, “We have a problem of people who do illegal dumping. Most of these people send their children to dump their garbage. This project teaches children not to dump everywhere … It is a collaboration between us as artists and the parents.”
Badi said she was busy looking for assistance with benches in her shack and for computers for the children.