The initiative focuses on providing food for residents in need through feeding schemes and sourcing personal protective equipment for disadvantaged children. Picture: Supplied
The initiative focuses on providing food for residents in need through feeding schemes and sourcing personal protective equipment for disadvantaged children. Picture: Supplied

Khayelitsha woman using her can-do attitude to help empower, uplift her community

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Jul 27, 2021

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Cape Town - A proactive young woman in Harare, Khayelitsha, has started an initiative that is working to bring good fortune for the disadvantaged people living in her area.

Khanya Qongqo, 27, is on a mission to uplift and empower residents living in Harare, despite the violence, crime and teenage pregnancies that plague her community , through her initiative the Harare Community Action Network (CAN).

Qongqo initiated the Harare CAN in March last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country and many people were left out in the cold, not going to work and unable to provide for themselves.

The initiative focuses on providing food for residents in need through feeding schemes and sourcing personal protective equipment for disadvantaged children.

Qongqo said she had been an unemployed when she started the Harare CAN, but did not want to sit and wait for her fortune to change.

“I am not the kind of person who sits and waits. I wanted to do something, anything at the time to uplift and assist people living in my community. As luck would have it, I met someone who introduced me to the Cape Together initiative, the umbrella under which all the CANs in Cape Town fall.

“Aside from the feeding schemes we host, we also have various initiatives and engagement campaigns for the children we work with, and the elderly people living in our community,” said Qongqo.

The Harare CAN is campaigning alongside Fetola, a non-profit organisation, that is running a winter drive campaign that will benefit vulnerable residents living in Harare and its surrounding areas.

The CAN is also working to assist pensioners and elderly residents to register for the Covid-19 vaccine, and runs several after-school projects for the children living in the area.

“I realised earlier on that there were a lot of misconceptions about Covid-19, and I wanted to help people understand the situation better, so they can make informed decisions. That is how we began assisting our elderly to register for the vaccine as they came to our soup kitchen spots,” said Qongqo.

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“I must say, the journey hasn’t been easy, but the returns have been amazing, and I would love for us to continue doing the work. Unfortunately, as CANs are not registered as organisations, we don’t get support from the government, and individuals are sometimes wary.

“I’d like for the government to step in and support CANs everywhere. We truly do need the support. Some have even stopped because it’s hard working without support. This is not to say we are not grateful for the people and organisations that support us consistently.

“However, I believe that a little more support can go a long way, especially for us young people who are working and trying to make a difference in our communities,” she said.

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The Cape Argus Starfish project aims to help encourage young people to steer away from crime. The project offers a platform for individuals and organisations to tell our readers what they do to empower the youth, and to share their knowledge. Email us at [email protected]

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