Posted by Paula Cullen on 16 Nov 11
Today saw us start where we left off..... continuing our painters role. We worked until midday when were we scheduled to go on a shack visit. Although I have been here on 5 previous occasions, I am still horrified by the continual poverty that we experience. 10 of us went with 4 of the locals residents from Witsand to visit some of the shacks.
No words can explain the conditions that these people live in. Their shacks are horrific with no services whatsoever. One man lived alone in a tin and cardboard shack that had nothing. His cooking utensils consisted of an old fashioned black pot that he would put on a wood fire outside his door. No electricity, gas or any form of sanitation or water. Another shack was approx 10 feet by 8 feet. There were 6 occupants, a husband, wife and their 3 children and her brother. The 2 men were unemployed and there only income was 250 rand per child per month (€75 in total). I asked one of the locals with us as to how these people can live. She told me that she had run a soup kitchen funded by the government but that funding had now ceased and many of her people were now dying of starvation. This is not acceptable in our modern world. We spoke to another girl who thankfully had a slightly happier story to tell us. Her husband had moved to Atlantis where he got a job. The entire family followed him and they are now due to move into one of our houses in January.
The transition pupils were in my group and they were heartbroken to see such poverty. They told me that they had no idea of just how poor these people are. It is true that we have no comprehension as to how bad their lives are.
We returned in time for our sandwich and coffee and for those who had experienced the shack tour it was hard to enjoy our it of lunch. The good news is that the Niall Mellon Township Trust has another 1,700 houses to complete in the township of Witsand so many families will get the gift of a house in the very near future.