You know me – I always blog about sex, as I find it an easy and fun way to spice things up and have a bit of a giggle. My life lessons sound that much better when drizzled with sex and humor. For me sex in real life is something built upon love and respect though – you don’t have to be in love with someone to have sex with them, but in the moment, you have to love them for who they are and what they are giving you. Sadly that’s not always what happens in real life.
Working in a township in South Africa I have become very aware of how sex can become an evil force when it’s used as a tool for something else, like drugs, or power. Working with a bunch of innocent kids, some who have seen their mothers sell their bodies for drugs, make me sick to the stomach. Not least because what often happens is that teenagers start sleeping with drug dealers for status, money and drugs. When I think of these little kids growing up and becoming more and more subjected to drugs, crime and prostitution I panic. I can’t stand the thought that the kids that run me down with hugs every day will one day turn to desperation and sell their soul to the devil, quite literally. This is why I have, together with the staff at Little Angels, started a campaign to turn the creche into a community center, so that when the kids leave for school when they turn six, or seven, they will still be able to spend the afternoons and evenings with us instead of spending time in the streets, or around abusive family relations. I want to do what I can to help them create a future they would love.
Myself and the staff at Little Angels can’t do this alone though and that’s why I’ve written this blog, asking for your help. We need to create a team from around the world to help us with this transformation. It really is a matter of every little helps and I would love if you could read about our dream and share your thoughts with me. I would really, truly appreciate it. Thank you!
Little Angels – the Vision
The Little Angels Crèche in Hangberg, Cape Town, is a crèche for underprivileged children registered as a non-profit organization under the Hout Bay Christian Social Development Organization. At any one time there’s usually 60-80 children enrolled, with many more queuing for access. The kids often suffer abuse at home, some have HIV, or parents with HIV and many have parents that suffer from substance misuse. Some have been orphaned due to murder, HIV, or drugs, others have parents in prison.
The crèche collaborates with CARES which is a charity that helps combat substance misuse and place the children of their clients in the crèche (around 30-50 children at any one time have parents enrolled in CARES recovery program).
Little Angels is based on a small plot of land, leased from the government, and operates out of three Wendy houses (shacks). There is no electricity, hot water, or proper toilets, or kitchen, nor do we have money for food, apart from some pap (porridge) in the morning, delivered by the Principal’s sister.
The Principal of the crèche, Liezel, is a real power house! Not only does she and her staff run the crèche for free (often not having money for food and clothes themselves), she is also the whole community’s go to lady when it comes to HIV consulting and she and her sister runs a feeding program for about 112 children out of their own homes.
Currently there is Liezel, a dedicated team of four staff and some others who pitch in when necessary, the Little Angels spokesperson, Dennis, and Maria who is a volunteer from CARES teaching the kids drama and storytelling, as well as doing things such as building a website and heading up the campaign to transform the crèche into a community center. You see, our dream is to convert the Little Angels crèche into a sustainable and self-sufficient community center with a youth program.
By offering an after school youth program we are hoping to break the normal circle for kids in Hangberg, which is that once they start school they end up spending their leisure time in the afternoons in bad company. As a result, by the time they reach their teens they get involved in drugs, they start having sex (often in return for drugs) and end up with HIV. Many also end up as criminals. Of course this does not happen to everyone, but as many children experience abuse at home, grow up around violence and drugs and see no hope for the future, things don’t always turn out great. This crushes our hearts, as today we see a lovely group of kids that shower me in hugs and kisses every day. Kids who are desperate for love and attention. Kids filled with playfulness and joy, even if their faces are already marked with scars of abuse and their bodies with malnutrition.
So yes, our goal is to transform the crèche into an Eco-friendly community center with a permaculture garden, housing the crèche, a youth program run in accordance with the Sudbury model (i.e. the children and youth lead the program) and with a self-sufficiency model such as laid out by the Teach a Man to Fish Organization, a study room/library, a counseling room – both for Liezel’s HIV counseling and for people who just want to stop by and chat, a kitchen, proper toilet and washing facilities, a laundry room, and a few beds for children and women who are escaping abuse.
What we would love to do is to build a sandbag eco-house. Those can be built so they look like “normal” houses and are as durable, meaning building regulations hopefully won’t be a problem. They are a lot cheaper than normal houses however – someone built a large two story one here in SA for R140,000 incl. labor and material (and theft!), which is around $15,500, or GBP 10,000. When it comes to electricity we hope to install solar panels. We would also love to create a permaculture garden.
The reason we want to make it eco-friendly and sustainable is so that the kids can learn how to create self-sufficiency in their own lives. Of course, we also wish to do Mother Nature a favor and teach the kids to respect the Earth.
Education is the only thing that will create lasting change in the world and seeing the struggle of Little Angels it is clear that education is a luxury. It shouldn’t have to be. Therefore, simultaneously with creating the Little Angels Community Center we want to set up the Little Angels Media Project in collaboration with The Wandering Tales. This will be an educational wiki and an online media library for educational tools.
The media library will contain apps, books, films, videos and games. All tools will be made available free with the option of donating whatever you wish to pay when downloading something. The educational wiki, will be a place where people can upload educational stories, games (as in the outline of how to play a game), songs and teaching plans. Each project, when finished is automatically uploaded to the online library, ready for download.
Later this year we will do a massive fundraising campaign for this project on Indiegogo, or Kickstarter. This will go together with a massive campaign to reach out to the media and various corporations to get them help support it, so if only by telling their employees about it and spreading the word on social media. For the fundraising we also need to invent “perks” – gifts anyone who donates money receive. These gifts can then be sold on our website for years to come, as a way of raising funds. We still need to determine how to make the center self-sufficient and we are basing our research on the Teach a Man to Fish Organization’s experiences.
Before we start the fundraising we wish to establish connections with as many companies as possible that can show that they are willing to support us. For example farms that can give us discounted food, people who are willing to volunteer to help build the house, a company supplying herbs and veg for the garden, someone familiar with the Sudbury model and so on. By the time we launch the fundraising campaign everything from how we intend to run the youth program, to detailed drawings of the center and gardens need to be in place.
As you can see our project is not just about crowd funding, it’s also about crowd sourcing – from creating an educational wiki and free online media library, to gathering a team of experts and volunteers to help us build the center, providing their skills and expertise, we will depend on team work.
There’s lots to do and we are looking for help in every area – we need to establish a core team of people who can help run the crèche and lead the transformation into a community center, as well as people willing to lend an hour, or two per week to come down and teach the kids, or who can donate a bag of rice, or clothes their kids have grown out of. Anyone who can help spread the word about our organization is also appreciated – whether tweeting, PR, or blogging – and we are happy to talk to anyone who simply wants to know what it is like working out here with the things we do. You learn a lot from working with children, as well as seeing what’s going on in the townships of Cape Town.
Thank you for taking your time to read this – below you will find some more photos of our team, the crèche and the wonderful kids we work with! If you want to contact us, you can do so here: