Women trained to be City’s ‘eyes and ears’

The women who will be taking part in the empowerment programme.

Sixty women from Lavender Hill will be taking part in an initiative that will empower them as well as their community.

On Wednesday June 15, the women, all residents from the City of Cape Town’s rental housing units, gathered at the St Mark’s Church in Depsiton Crescent to sign agreements to take part in a three-week training programme as Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) staff.

They will then be employed by the programme for six months, addressing social ills, maintenance and other issues relating to the rental housing units.

Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen said the women will liaise as a partner with residents and the City of Cape Town.

“It is a project initiative that has been started at New World Foundation in Lavender Hill where there are five co-ordinators and each co-ordinator is allocated six different courts,” said Ms Petersen.

“These ladies were selected to form part of a network where the women of this community are empowered and capacitated to deal with social ills. We are also trying to give them the resources to become a relevant partner with the City of Cape Town. They will be the ears and eyes and will be remunerated for their efforts,” she said.

Ms Petersen said the women chosen were already active in the community. “These women are self reliant and confident and we are equipping them to make sure that service delivery takes place in their community, specifically rental stock units,” she said.

Resident Margory Simons, 62, who has been living in Lavender Hill for 42 years and is a court committee member, is part of the initiative.

“This programme was made for people like me. When I see something suspicious or when I see something that needs to be addressed, I either address it myself or I contact the relevant authorities to do so,” she said.

“Police can’t be everywhere and government don’t always know what’s going on at ground level. We are the link. We are the people who need to highlight the plight of the people in our community.

“This project is so important for this community and I know it’s going to have a positive impact if the residents of Lavender Hill can also help us to make this work,” said Ms Simons.

Another resident, Bahiya Smith who is a support group member, said the initiative is vital to the wellbeing of the community.

“There are many issues that need to be addressed and we are glad that we were given the opportunity to be the link between the rental stock residents and the City.

“We are also given an opportunity to enrich our lives with the training and be able to earn money while working in our community. I am glad to be part of it,” said Ms Smith.

Ms Petersen thanked those who signed up for the initiative and wished them luck.

“I am very proud of these ladies. We’re going to work together to make the community a better, safer place,” she said.