It takes a village – how a container village is providing a safe haven for impoverished children
Cape Town, November 2020 – Lack of access to basic human rights is wreaking havoc for the children of Parkwood Estate. With the help of Container Intermodal Trading (CIT) and the Jabulani Feeding Scheme, recycled containers are being used to provide these children with a safe haven, food and access to basic education to ultimately break the cycle of poverty.
The Jabulani Feeding Scheme, in Parkwood Estate Cape Town, sits in an official Zone of Poverty declared by the Department of Social Development. The centre is built on reclaimed land that used to be a dumpsite, so any structure erected must be removable.
Yasmine Abrahams, the Founder of the feeding scheme, has made it her life’s mission to feed, protect and be a mother to the children of this community and her centre provides for over 500 impoverished children every day. In her mission to keep the children safe, containers are essential, and much thought was put into the materials used and layout of the centre.
Set in a fort-like fashion and stacked two-levels high, the containers form an enclosed courtyard haven within their boundaries with one easy to monitor small gate for entry and exit. The fortified metal walls of the containers are pivotal, as Parkwood Estate is heavily burdened by gang violence, and the metal containers create a barrier for the children inside and aid in getting them out of the potential crossfire of stray bullets.
Yasmine says that the children need to be able to come into the Jabulani centre and eat for many reasons. Unfortunately, they have found that if the food gets taken home to eat, parents or adult siblings often take the food for themselves. Being able to supervise the children as they eat at the large table, allows the caretakers at Jabulani to ensure the food is going to the child as well as provide them with the sense of dignity that comes from eating together at a table.
Over and above their security role, the containers serve as storage for perishable food and equipment, kitchen facilities and as space for children to do their homework after school. The amazing resilience of the human spirit is evident in the effort that has gone into making the containers feel homely.
Over the last few years, CIT has donated 40’ high cube containers, and have played an essential role in enabling Jabulani to set up a sustainable and secure environment. Kashief Schroeder, the owner and co-founder of CIT also offers Jabulani cost price rates and gives his professional advice on purchasing containers on a pro bona basis.
Kashief says that he collaborates with the Jabulani Feeding Scheme’s because of the example his late father set through his longstanding friendship with the scheme’s founder Yasmine Abrahams. He says that by donating his time and containers, he continues this tradition of friendship, and honours the memory of his late father.
“I know my late father is smiling down and is pleased and proud of how we continue to show that when organisations and communities stand together, life-changing things happen”
Poverty can only be broken by education, which is why having a space of their own to provide safe afterschool care and assist children with their homework is absolutely essential to Jabulani’s mission. Jabulani is also planning on starting a home-schooling program for the many children who don’t have birth certificates and cannot enrol in formal government schooling. This will allow the children the opportunity to catch up on schooling or to learn the basics of grade R, while Jabulani goes through the process of getting them birth certificates.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges for the program, as many children were left without masks or ways to sanitise and protect themselves against the virus. However, ingenuity always overcomes obstacles and Jabulani is able to provide sanitising stations and masks to those who don’t have. Due to social distancing laws, they were no longer able to have all 500 + children in the same facility at the same time, which exacerbated the need for more space. With the additional containers from CIT, they were able to schedule all children for their meals in groups.
South Africa’s high levels of unemployment, gangsterism, and drug and alcohol abuse lead to a myriad of social evils for the children of our society. It is so important for us to remember that we can all make a difference. We should all take a lesson from what is possible when inspirational women, like Yasmine, and companies, like CIT, come together to use their imaginations to find creative solutions to the challenges that the children of South Africa face.