Ennerdale is a community that is situated in the south of Johannesburg. To reach Ennerdale from Pretoria took us longer than an hour as we drove through the city of Johannesburg, other townships and communities and a rural area where a commercial farmer has planted his mielies. Just before we arrived in Ennerdale, we had to go through a toll booth and could only reach our destination thanks to Google Maps.
Why did we go to this place on a rainy Saturday?
SIMTEQ Engineering takes its social responsibility seriously and has been looking for an organisation where we can become involved. We have come across the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation), Ladies of Hope, and was invited to their AGM meeting. What made an impression on me, was the group's strong, intelligent and organised women, who have the passion to make a difference in their community.
They started initially with a hospice where they received training and support from HPCA (Hospice Palliative Care Association) and they follow the proper rules and regulations when looking after patients. The need in their community has however grown significantly and they have expanded their services. They recently opened a house for woman and children affected by GBV (Gender based Violence), look after teens who are addicted to drugs and focuses on skills development and geriatric care. While doing this, they also feed about 150 to 200 children daily. The only requirements for them to receive food are to bring a bowl and wear a mask (since Covid-19 struck).
According to one of their board members they are trying to empower young people and develop their skills to be able to find a job outside the community. It is however extremely expensive to work in the city, because of the distance and toll fees (as we ourselves have experienced). Drugs are a massive problem as the drug dealers target younger children and make them not just dependent on Cannabis (Dagga) but a mix of Cannabis , Mandrax, Heroine and rat poison(!), which they smoke under the pretence of only being Cannabis. To break the cycle is very difficult because of the income they receive by re-selling drugs and there are currently no alternatives available.
The staff members do not receive salaries but a stipend, which is more a token of appreciation than an income, but they still work passionately in the community. As a trained social worker, I am very critical towards organisations and how they operate. It was however clear that all their regulations are in order and followed and that their only problem is a lack of funding. Even though we as a company wants to support them, we were told that they want to deliver something in return, for example soft skills. I joked and said that that would be very helpful for all our engineers.
We are just in the beginning of our relationship with Ladies of Hope and are intent to become partners, to help however we can. I have a feeling that we have a lot to learn from these ladies who gives hope to the people in their community and make a difference.