‘Our goal is to see people in houses’

Aysha and Samodien Davids.

An NPO called the Women Hope for the Nation will join residents to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Village Heights and Overcome Heights informal settlements, on Friday November 11.

Community leaders are planning to host a fund-raising event with modelling shows and stalls in the streets of the informal settlements.

St Montagu Village resident Aysha Davids, the founder of Women Hope for the Nation, said the informal settlement committee members will be contacting the City of Cape Town to request permission for the road closures.

She said after 11 years the community is struggling with social ills due to gangsterism and drug abuse.

Women Hope for the Nation has been fighting for the residents to get proper housing.

“I will rejoice when we achieve our goal to see our people in houses. We will be tackling that issue with our new councillor Gerrie Gordan (Ward 67) soon,” she said.

Women Hope for the Nation started out with feeding schemes and soup kitchens in 2004, and was registered in 2011.

Ms Davids, 50, said: “We realise that feeding schemes would not be able to equip the community to handle challenging situations in their lives. We decided to help them through offering workshops, for example, giving women who live with domestic violence the skills on how to get an interdict. We also educate women about their constitutional rights,” said Ms Davids.

She said they have witnessed many women being abused, especially during the weekends when men got drunk.

When men do not have money for alcohol, they sometimes take their frustration out on their wives.

Ms Davids said helping women was close to her heart as she also had an abusive marriage.

“I was abused by my first husband and had three children from him. I am happily married to my second husband Samodien Davids for 25 years and I have two children with him,” she said.

“After I met my second husband we moved to Heideveld. It was then when I started helping as a volunteer at an advice office,” said Ms Davids.

Some of the Davids family members are also involved in the community.

“Two of my children are married and I have five grandchildren between the two of them. They also assist me in helping the community,” she said.

Ms Davids said children in the informal settlements are battling to stay in school.

“We investigated to find out why children are dropping out of school. A small percentage of the statistics showed that parents can’t afford school fees. Some principals threaten parents to either pay school fees or take their children out of school. However, a bigger percentage points to youth being assaulted on their way to school.”

She said youth get assaulted by gangsters so they prefer to stay at home as they fear for their own safety.

Ms Davids said Women Hope for the Nation decided to intervene by helping to enrol some children in schools outside the area. “We contacted Salesian Institute Youth Projects which works in youth education and skills development, changing the lives of vulnerable children and youth-at-risk in Greenpoint, and we enrolled over 30 children from our area.”

She said although the children had to take public transport, they never missed school.

“Some of them continued to study further. Brendon Michaels, an 18 year old young man, who finished school at Salesian is doing his final year at B.E.S.T College, in Salt River, where he is getting computer skills,” she said.

Brendon will be motivating other young people at Women Hope for the Nation’s Youth Awareness Day on Saturday October 1, when he will be talking about the consequences of becoming a school drop-out as well as on the topic of substance abuse.

Women Hope for the Nation has also taken the Steenberg Football Club under their wing to help them raise funds for sports equipment, including boots. “I was very touched when I found out that soccer kept the children away from crime. They showed keen interest in playing and were doing very well.

“It’s a pleasure to see how they light up when we come to support them on the side of the field. However, we found out that they haven’t had new sports gear since 2003 and we would like to help them get new ones.”

If you can help contact the manager of the soccer club Bahier Ford on 073 396 1303 or Ms Davids on 073 882 2195.