War on Poverty campaign gives hope to NW residents

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pretoria - Living in a mud house with two young children has not been easy for Manthe Village resident Keakantse Kgantlapane and his wife. Each time it rains the walls of the room the family calls their home falls apart.

Despite the danger the home poses, it is the only shelter the unemployed father can provide for his family. In a few weeks, the family will have shelter over their heads, an effort driven by government's War on Poverty programme, writes Irene Naidoo

The programme is a means for government to intervene in the country's poorest communities to improve South Africans' quality of life at grass root level. 

Kgantlapane and his family are just some of the residents of Manthe Village, in Taung, North West, who are benefiting as a result of it. A new house has been built for the family and they are eager to make it their home.

"I'm so happy about the house. I can't wait to move in. With the new house I will no longer worry about what is going to happen when it rains or when there are strong winds," he tells BuaNews.

When Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe visited Taung to assess the War on Poverty programme his first stop was at Kgantlapane's mud house.

Seated on a wooden bench under the shade of a tree, Kgantlapane had the opportunity to personally tell Motlanthe about the hardships he and other residents face on a daily basis.

"I'm very happy that the deputy president came to visit us, we told him about our problems and he promised to do something about it. I told him we need jobs and better houses," he says.

"I'm confident that things will no longer be the same, our lives are going to change for the better," he says.

Not far from Kgantlapane's house stands the slightly larger mud house that Julia Motselekatse calls home.

It has just two rooms, but Julia Motselekatse shares it with 10 family members - five of them children.

No-one in Motselekatse's family works and they rely on the child support grants the children receive for an income.

The owner of the mud house was kind enough to allow Motselekatse and her family to live there for free but like Kgantlapane, she fears for the safety of her family while living in the house.

Another fear constantly at the back of her mind is the possibility that the owner of the house may need it again and ask the family to move out. If that were to happen, Kgantlapane and her family would have nowhere to go.

Fortunately Motselekatse does not have to dwell on these uncertainties any more. Not too far from the mud house they have made home, now stands a newly built house, complete with two bedrooms and kitchen, that the family will soon move into.

The plight of Motselekatse's family was noted by those involved in the War on Poverty programme in the North West and the house was built specifically for them.

"We are very happy. I don't have the words to express how I feel. I'm just so happy we will have our own house," she says.

Apart from Kgantlapane and Motselekatse, the War on Poverty programme also enriched the youth of the area, who received training in the National Youth Service and auxiliary social work.

Communities have also benefited through awareness programmes that help provide basic documents, such as identity documents and birth certificates that ultimately help access services such as social grants.

The central element of the War in Poverty programme is visits to poor households by community development workers, who assess what government services those in the home are eligible for, but are not receiving.

Referrals are made to local government departments to help out by providing services and provincial government also gets involved. 

With the Deputy President's visit over in the impoverished community, Kgantlapane, Motselekatse, their families and their neighbours and the village hope that they will not be forgotten. - BuaNews