Each year, Valerie Oliphant, a resident of Manenberg, gathers every available cent and, with the help of generous Samaritans, creates a special Christmas experience for underprivileged children in her community.
It’s a day designed to offer respite from the challenges of gang violence and fear, allowing these children to embrace the joy of childhood during the festive season.
The area has been plagued by gang violence in recent months with several fatalities and serious injuries, including the death of a one-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet.
Rival gangs also engaged in a spree of violence in October, shooting eight people within a span of six hours.
To turn things around for the children, residents, like Olifant try to inject positivity into their lives through food and fun. This is the fifth year the mother of two is hosting her early Christmas party, and the children are already looking forward to it on Saturday.
She said her plans included a Christmas lunch, a party packet as a treat, and a small gift. Her hope is also to hire some festival rides.
Oliphant said: “This year I’m planning the party for 400 children and instead of inside a hall like I normally do, I want to celebrate with the kids outside. It will be split – 300 will be from Manenberg and I’ll also be catering 100 party packets to donate to an orphanage.”
“I attended the Christmas party last year, I’m really hoping it will happen again because it was lots of fun,” said Chantel Kiewitz, 14.
Oliphant said local children experience stress and trauma.
“The gang fight, gunshots and violence have been ongoing for months.”
Oliphant has appealed for help. She can be contacted on 062 630 1825.