The main challenges facing most of the informal settlements in South Africa is decent sanitation as a result of the lack of services to connect to and drainage problems. Barcelona informal settlement, just 15km east of Cape Town CBD, is one such community where toilets lack privacy, safety and cleanliness. The settlement has grown in size since 1993 with many people from rural areas trying to find employment.
When Mike Fast from Mike and Marie-Eve Ministries saw the lack of decent facilities on the church grounds he committed to do something about the dire situation. He appealed to his network of friends, raised funds and requested Breadline Africa to deliver a 6m toilet unit. This newly converted shipping container with 6 flushing toilets and handbasins, will help to restore dignity, improve hygiene and prevent the spread of infections and illness.
In 2004 Pastor Julius Bonani and his wife and children were brave enough to start Barcelona Baptist Church. They said “God called us to Barcelona, but at first we were scared. There wasn’t electricity in the area yet, and there was a lot of violence and crime. No one else had dared to move into Barcelona to start a church until we arrived”. Today despite the growth in people and structures, basic amenities have not improved.
Unakho Children’s Home is home to 35 children aged 1 month to 18 years. Some are orphans where both parents have died from HIV/AIDS, others have suffered severe abuse and have been neglected. Only five of the 35 children receive a monthly government grant. They are the ones with identity documents.
Pastor Bonani’s wife – Irene Bonani, who is affectionately known as ‘Mama’ couldn’t’ stop the tears – tears which symbolise the burden and pain of the children she dearly loves. Many of the little ones follow her around and hold tightly onto her dress. On this particular day, she was distressed as a 14 year old had just been brought to the Home as she had been raped the previous evening. Sadly this happens regularly. Mama says “God has given us the blueprint and the ability to love these orphans, because He loved us first!”
The children all consider the Home a safe space a place of love and being cared for. The older ones who leave and find jobs, find a way to pay it forward and help the centre. The new 6m toilet block restores dignity and will prevent the spread of infections and illness with improved hygiene.
A special thank you too to Brad Hansen from EMI who attended the launch with Kirstin Fourie. EMI (a nonprofit
organisation providing Architectural and Engineering design services for Christian ministries and nonprofits) who designed the special septic tank / soak away system. Breadline Africa is grateful to Mike for introducing us to Pastor Bonani and Mama Irene and a big thank you to all the donors who have helped make life at the Children’s Home even better.