The Story of SOMMERSET Community
Sommerset can be a tough community to live in. There are many physical and social obstacles to overcome. For most children the absence of a father is more common than not, leaving a huge gap in the influence of healthy male role models. In some cases this leads to abuse and alcoholism. Education is unavailable for those who do not have uniforms or school supplies. There are few possibilities for gainful employment. Many in Sommerset do not have safe and secure housing. Water comes to the community by mobile tanker, but comes infrequently and irregularly.
Children currently supported: 75
Number of Care Workers: 13
Coordinator Name: Theresa
Distance from HAZYVIEW Local Office: 40 km
For many years Hands at Work operated in the neighbouring community of Belfast. It was through this work that the community of Sommerset was identified and leaders rose up to care for the most vulnerable in this area. Daily life comes with many of these immediate challenges, yet life is not hopeless. There are women from the community who care for the most vulnerable and poorest of the poor in a holistic way. At the Care Point, the Care Workers of the Sommerset Community Based Organisation (CBO) allow children to be children. Beginning in August 2015, they receive a hot nutritious meal daily, access to basic health care and education. Care Workers also walk the dusty roads of Sommerset to visit children in their homes where they get a better understanding of a child’s challenges and level of poverty. They get to know the child and the family so they can care in a holistic way.
The CBO is currently operating on an empty piece of land. There are no trees or shelter to offer shade from the hot sun. However, in August 2016, an international team made up of people from around the world visited Sommerset and helped put some old tyres into the ground for children to sit and play on. They spent a few days with the children and the Care Workers helping paint and decorate the tires. A small structure was also put up to help create a spot for shade from the hot sun. This was a huge encouragement to the CBO, bringing new life to the Care Point.
Many of the children have built strong, loving relationships with the Care Workers because of this, and are given healthy role models to look up to. A local church in Sommerset has also been involved with the CBO, coming to pray with the Care Workers and children regularly.
In 2019, due to a change in Government policy, children who do not have proper legal documentation to attend school will no longer be permitted. The Hands at Work local office teams in Hazyview and Oshoek are working hard to make plans for the children and families this will directly affect. Hands at Work is seeking to understand the increased vulnerability our children face, not only due to the lack of education and regular routine, but in their day-to-day living. Hands at Work sees the Life Centre in each community as an opportunity to facilitate the growth and development for each child affected. Programs to facilitate learning, skills and development will be introduced at our Life Centres over the course of the first few months of 2019, allowing each child to have a place where they feel loved and a sense of belonging.
Wandile* lives with his mother, brother, sister-in-law and two nephews in a modest home. Wandile and his mother Lerato* don’t have their ID documents and so depend on the brother, who works only part time, to provide for the basic needs of the family. Wandile has many reasons to be discouraged, however he is respectful and helpful to the Care Workers at the Care Point. He helps to facilitate when the youth leaders meet and can often be found helping the younger children with their homework.
The Hands at Work office in Hazyview currently supports six Community Based Organisations, which exist to care for the most vulnerable in their communities. The office provides training, networking, and encouragement to those Community Based Organisations like Sommerset. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.