Cape Town - Bonteheuwel, a township 15km away from Cape Town, is home to around 45000 people - and more than half of the population are children and teenagers.
For eight years now, Sandra Jantjies has been organising a Christmas party there, where she hands out presents and lunch, and provides entertainment to children.
Jantjies, 56, used to work in a clothing factory in Bonteheuwel.
Her project started in 2011 when, after collecting donations for the neighbour’s children, she handed out about 50 boxes filled with presents.
This year, with many more donors to help her, she plans to have more than 500 packs to give.
“From September I start promoting and people can donate until next weekend,” she said.
The event will be on Thursday December 12, from 1pm to 4pm.
“We give them lunch, we’ve got music, entertainment, ice cream they get such a lot. Last year kids walked out with their hands so full they couldn’t even carry all the stuff.
“But parents aren’t allowed,” she joked, “what I do is for the kids.”
Surrounded by boxes and wrapping paper, Jantjies says that this year they’ve got a lot of toys, but what people usually put in the boxes are much-needed basic toiletries like soap, toothpaste and sanitary towels.
“Most of our kids don’t have stuff like that. If I give soap to a 6-year-old I’ll make sure that he’s going to get the bath, that he’s going to be clean.”
Other gift items include clothing, condiments and sweets.
“I’m very thankful and grateful for our community because they just love to give. Still, what I feel kids in our community need the most is love,” said Jantjies.
Community Development worker Shahied Africa agreed: “The main challenges are gangsterism, drugs and the lack of family structure,” he said. “They need love, care and a stable environment.”
According to Africa, there are about 24000 children within the community whose parents “can’t always provide a decent meal or fancy clothes”.
Africa says parents usually buy toiletries, but they are struggling and can’t afford them often.
“Poverty alleviation programmes are the solution,” said Africa, along with “educating and empowering parents, and creating employment and more opportunities for them”.