PHOTO ESSAY: Hopes to change gang 'battlefield' in Lavender Hill into safe space
Founder of the Guardians of the National Treasure Ralph Bouwers, who grew up in Lavender Hill, said: “The field in the heart of Lavender Hill is known as the battlefield as it created a place of territory between two rival gangs in the community. The sports field wasn’t being used for sports and was being used for violence.”
Bouwers said Lavender Hill had been deteriorating over the years after the community became neglected. There were more drugs and gangsterism in the Cape Flats and less sport.
The organisation received funding from a global organisation, In Place of War, based in the UK, to start developing the field so it could be used as a space for recreational activities.
A studio is planned to be built on the field for the people to get creative, an internet café for youth to get involved with the outside world, and a café for individuals to come together and discuss various topics.
Spaces will also be provided for different activities such as the ballet, soccer and netball.
Bouwers said they were still waiting for the City to provide a lease to go ahead with the project.
“We have been waiting for the city for about a year with ongoing meetings. However, this whole process is a waiting game. We almost have to beg for our own land in order to keep our children safe. We got the children and families involved, and the more the community has to wait, the more their spirits and hope will fade,” he said.
Ballet instructor in the community Jane Philander said: “Ballet helps develop a young woman’s posture and mind. This performing art has helped keep girls off the street by giving them a purpose in life.”
Philander said teenage pregnancies were high on the Cape Flats and providing a space for teens to use their bodies in a way that could help them develop and grow would help protect them.
“The girls’ mannerisms have changed after taking ballet classes. They have become more disciplined and respect their bodies more,” she said.
Head of the Guardians of the National Treasure, Astrid Abrahams from Hillview, said: “The main aim is to get the children in the community together in one place, because the conflict between the gangs and communities is creating a barrier between everyone.
“The field will allow people from Lavender Hill, Hillview and Sea Winds to come together, which can help create the harmony.”@Sukainaish