The first tangible evidence of a new centre is being erected in the form of a bulletproof fence at the Blode Street field in Lavender hill – notoriously known as the battlefield.
The community is excited to see plans come to fruition after several years of brainstorming, designing and teamwork for the much needed, all inclusive centre – thanks to international funders.
Ten months ago things were made official when Rise Above Development (RAD), which is the umbrella organisation, signed a 10-year lease agreement with the City of Cape Town to transform the Blode Street field, as well as the landscape of Lavender Hill, into a hub for positive change in the community.
The funders, in collaboration with global organisation In Place of War, have committed millions of rands to see the project through and last week the first phase of fencing went up. Although it is a long process, which costs a lot of money, the fencing is the first step in the process of “building work”.
In the next few months shipping containers will be brought to the field to create the cultural hub and then other hubs will be created as finances become available and house many programmes like arts and crafts, libraries, film making, a youth centre, an ECD and many others. The centre will consist of containers because the field used to be a retention pond and permanent buildings can’t be built on the site.
There will also be opportunities for community members to be employed by the organisation to build the centre.
Situated in the heart of Lavender Hill and opposite two schools, Hillwood and Levana primary, the field had become synonymous with violence, gun fights and other negative social issues but in recent years organisations have been hard at work to change the field’s reputation.
Mark Nicholson, founder of the Lavender Hill Sports and Recreation Foundation and one of the directors of the project, was ecstatic that the mission for Blode Street is finally being fulfilled.
The centre will be open and available to all organisations and residents in and around Lavender Hill.
Adele Campbell, who is on the advisory board, said all organisations including new ones, are welcome to come onboard.
“We want to house new NGOs who don’t have a home because we know there are organisations who are doing good things in the community, who are respected for the work they do but they don’t have any resources. We want to embrace and help them as well.”
Ms Campbell was excited about the fencing and said it’s the first step after all the hard work: “It is becoming a reality but we are still in the process of getting organisations onboard to join and help make the hub an all inclusive space for the betterment of the community.”
She encouraged schools, churches, mosques and all other organisations to get in contact to become part of the project.
Ralph Bouwers, from organisation Guardians of the National Treasure (GNT), who initially worked on the project with reformed gangster Turner Adams and film-maker Jeanette de Villiers in 2017, said he is happy the community will have a door to knock on.
Mr Bouwers now works on another project to establish an agricultural hub to bring about economic empowerment. “RAD is a God-sent after a long wait but it was totally worth it. I would like to thank In Place of War and those involved with keeping this dream alive.
“To the community, thank you for your support over the last four years, your love and support gave us the strength to carry on.”