Sweet Home Farm
Sweet Home Farm is an informal settlement that was originally a rubble dump in the Philippi farm area and is now home to approximately 17,000 people, in something close to 4,000 shacks. In 1995 it was a small group of 15 shacks but it has grown each year as people have settled there for lack of better options. It is still largely undeveloped in terms of access to water and electricity, because half of the land is privately owned which means that the council don’t supply these basic amenities there. Half of the community have no proper toilets and the other half share one toilet unit for every six families.
Unemployment, lack of formal schools in the area, broken families, insufficient medical care and a high rate of HIV/Aids are just some of the issues that plague this community. Sweet Home Farm faces many social evils, and although only a few kilometres from the wealth of the suburbs and city centre, is excluded from the benefits. Most of the people who live there will never see the ‘other side’ of Cape Town. Due to the lay of the land and the closeness of the homes, largely made up of wood and tin, it is more susceptible to disasters such as flooding and fires, and diseases and illness are easily spread.
Whilst there are several groups of Christians who gather regularly in Sweet Home Farm, our vision is to see an Anglican church planted into the area led by Joy Klimbashe, our program coordinator. We plan to plant in partnership with the Diocese of False Bay, The Warehouse and St John’s Parish and community leaders have already allocated us some land.
In the meantime we continue to build relationships within the community, and serve through various support groups, income-generation projects and activities for children and youth. At the Siphuxolo HIV/Aids support group members form close relationships of encouragement and hope, helping each other to deal with the difficulties of living with HIV/Aids in and economically challenging environment. There is also a focus on raising awareness in this group and also with our Seniors’ Club and various youth groups, making sure that community members are empowered to respond to the issues they face daily, and that they know what they are entitled to in terms of government grants or medication and other practical resources.
This last year also saw the beginning of an exciting partnership with SHAWCO (Student Health and Welfare Centres Organisation). For the month of January, international medical students came and set up mobile clinics in the community and worked extremely hard to see almost 560 patients.
Sweet Home Farm’s first restaurant, Siqalo Sethu (Our Start) was also opened this year. Christina and Asanda, both part of Siphuxolo, worked in partnership with WorkSpring to bring this exciting (and delicious!) income-generation project into being, and we hope that it will be the first of many success stories of financial empowerment to come.
Our prayer is that the people of SHF would become people who intercede and advocate for themselves and for this city. That SHF would be transformed from a forgotten place to being a place of healing, so full of the presence of God that people flock there.
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A Bucket of Bones
After Abongile - one of the SHF Superstars - was killed in a road accident, the last thing we wanted to do was play football. But that is the very thing we had been encouraged to do, and so we trained and played in a Freedom Day tournament. The tournament itself was a little bit frustrating as we arrived with 21 guys ready for 11-a-side games, only to be told it was 5-a-side. Even though it was disappointing because not everyone got to play, those who did play won their games and enjoyed themselves. Partly because of a bucket of bones…
Thousands of miles away in North London, a friend of SHF volunteer, Barry Lewis, heard what had happened to Abongile and wanted to do something. So he quickly transferred over some money with the view of blessing the boys with some fun food. After the football we went back to SHF and munched on a load of KFC. The amazing thing was that in a bucket of KFC you get 21 pieces of chicken, perfect for 21 guys, so we bought 2 buckets! They absolutely loved it and made a video to say thank you.
Still sitting at home in London, Barry’s friend was so touched by the impact he could have just by having a heart for these boys and acting on it; even thousands of miles away, he could bring hope.