Durban philanthropist meets her community’s needs

Olivia Jones dishing up for community members. | Supplied

Olivia Jones dishing up for community members. | Supplied

Published Jan 14, 2024

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Durban — This week’s Unsung Hero is Olivia Jones, of Wentworth, south of Durban, who is using her life struggles as a propeller to show love to her community.

Jones, 48, a KwaZulu-Natal senior cultural chieftess of the Abbaquar-San Royal House of the Khoisan Tribe, is the chairperson of the Abbaquar-San Dream Centre, a cultural non-profit organisation aimed at assisting, uplifting and rebuilding the community of Wentworth and surrounding areas including Bluff, Jacobs and Merebank.

Activities include gymnastics, ballet, youth development and parenting programmes, a support group for women, and a vegetable garden. The latest additions include a community radio station, a soup kitchen and a library started by poet and storyteller Gcina Mhlophe.

Jones said she set up the organisation after noting the struggles in her community.

“We have a high unemployment rate and poverty is extreme in our community so it was important to try to address this in various ways.

“The soup kitchen was inspired by volunteers who noticed that the children were going to school on an empty stomach as many parents could not afford a proper nutritious meal and largely relied on the grants provided by the South African Social Security Agency. Also, with the gang violence that is rife in our community, many kids are left fatherless, with no support for the mothers and grandparents.”

She works alongside a formidable team of 16 people.

SOME of the people waiting to be served at the Abbaquar-San Dream Centre. | Supplied.

Jones said raising sufficient funds was a major challenge for them and they relied largely on sponsorships from residents and fund-raising events, or money from their own pockets.

She noted an increase in the number of people who were receiving aid from the organisation, particularly from the soup kitchen which has grown from 100 people three months ago to 300 people currently.

Jones, a wife and mother of two sons, described her upbringing as one that was “broken”, being raised by her mother after her parents divorced.

She matriculated at the Harding Senior Secondary School in 1992 and studied at the Durban University of Technology, earning qualifications in human resource management and child and youth development.

Apart from her philanthropic work, Jones bakes novelty cakes to pay for her daily expenses.

She said she had many wishes for the organisation in the future.

“My wish is to unite the community while creating a safe space for the youth and a better everyday life for the children, and to help them become better leaders of tomorrow,” said Jones.

Theresa Baptist, 61, who has been receiving aid from the organisation’s soup kitchen and the support group for women, relayed her well-wishes for them.

“I wish that these people prosper and reach greater frontiers. They are an integral part of our society and always have a positive attitude towards us.”

Sunday Tribune

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