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Pretoria - Tears of joy trickled down 78-year-old Grace Nel’s face as she was given a Community Builder Award for her selfless contribution to Eersterus residents.
Known as “Mother Maria” in the neighbourhood of Nantes, Nel was nominated for the award by a neighbour who called her a beacon of hope and caring.
She helps those in need by offering her home as shelter for people to sleep, offering them food and even using her own grant money for those needing transport to travel and sort out their SA Social Security Agency documents.
“I have always been ill-treated but I didn’t take it negatively and I will keep helping them,” said Nel.
She and 40 other residents of Eersterus were honoured by the My Kassie 2nd Chanz Foundation as part of its first anniversary at the weekend.
Residents were invited to nominate a person in their neighbourhood they felt had made a difference to their lives or the neighbourhood as a whole.
Nominees received Community Builder of Merit awards and were thanked for their contribution to the community.
Breeda Koopman, one of the founders and chairperson of the My Kassie 2nd Chanz Foundation, said: “The response was amazing and we’re so happy to be celebrating our 1st birthday with the unsung heroes of our community.”
Another recipient of the award was Adrian Jeftha, a reformed former drug addict who spends his time preaching and giving testimonies at the Victory Outreach Rehab Home in Eersterus.
“My aim was to help other people to get another chance just like I did. I never thought doing something I love would have such an impact on people’s lives,” said Jeftha.
Ryno Brits, one of the residents who has been at the rehab home getting help for his addiction to methcathinone popularly known as cat, said: “I’ve been here for a month and a half and I’m striving for a year. They keep us very busy here and Adrian does his part to help us out - we’re proud of him.”
Sidney Hendricks was nominated by Berearce Roodt for being a good teacher and mentor in the La Rouchelle neighbourhood.
“He is the type of person who always has wise words to share with the youth and will give you a direct answer whether good or bad,” said Roodt.
He has also written a book on Marabastad.
Byron Veltman, operations manager for the foundation, said they focused on helping members with training, education, bursaries, job opportunities and skills development.
“Most people think opportunities are not there, but they are, so we help provide our community with the relevant information to help them out,” he said.