Group goes from hustling drugs to keeping their neighbourhood clean
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Cape Town - From hustling drugs on street corners to keeping the streets of Bonteheuwel clean, a group of five teenagers have inspired their community by turning away from crime and launching their own maintenance business.
The business was officially launched a month ago, following 11 months of intense planning. The eager group stated what began only as a maintenance plan for one block in the community and has since grown in demand. The group said that they aim to maintain the entire proximity of Bonteheuwel and teach others to do things that have never been done before.
Dillion Jongbloed said that after years of participating in illegal activities, crimes and drugs, he decided to change his life and put his efforts into positive opportunities.
“For a long time, I did not want to live in Bonteheuwel anymore because of all the violence and the culture of crime. I wanted to leave and live somewhere else. It wasn't until I realised that I was a part of the problem and decided to change my ways.
“I looked at all the violence and drugs and realised that that’s not what I wanted my children or the next generation to grow up in. I want the kids to see that you can be different. I want to be the change I want to see in my community.”
Keenan Williams said that he believed that everyone has a purpose in life. He explained that most kids that grew up in Bonteheuwel never left and fell into a bad stereotype and lifestyle.
“I want all children on the Cape Flats to know that where you come from does not define you. We are defined by the choices we make.”
Williams added that he believed that it was up to all members of the youth to actively take part in breaking down the negative stereotypes and images portrayed about their communities.
Dylan Eley, Shakeel Wittle and Riyaaz Christians explained that aside from washing bins every Thursday, the boys offer additional maintenance work, including painting, cleaning property and walking dogs.
The boys, who all live in the same street, expressed their love for soccer, explaining that they were all sportsmen at heart. The boys, who play soccer every week at a local school, said that they would be grateful for any donations, sponsorships or equipment that could be obtained to fix the soccer field because of the vital role sports plays in youth development.
The group is also open to any corporations or businesses that would be keen on funding their project or partnering with their business as it would play a role in community-based work and create employment for the youth of Bonteheuwel.
Mentor to both the boys and business, Shuaib Sayhn explained that his main objective of the business was to install basic financial literacy and an entrepreneurial mindset within the youth of his community.
“We hope to register a business banking account that will allow investing in buying the Shell garage and upgrading it to Basic Needs Centre to compete with the spaza shops, hopefully retaining capital in the community and South Africa for longer and reinvesting it into the economy.”
“We would like to host learners from the area that would be interested in work readiness programmes gaining six months to one year’s experience equipping them for the professional environment.”