Skandaalkamp is a “bush settlement” situated on the Frankdale waste disposal site just outside of Tableview, Cape Town. There are 249 households ranging from single adults to families with several children. 80% of adults are unemployed and most rely on either recycling scrap metal and glass as an income or chopping wood in the bush to sell by the roadside. 70% of families are single mother families. Many women work as prostitutes in the surrounding farm areas just to put food on the table. It is by far the poorest community we work with.
A bush settlement is a very informal and severely impoverished area that started as a refuge for homeless job seekers who could not afford accommodation and were not permitted to put up shacks in more formalised townships due to Land Invasion laws. They had nowhere else to go so they built makeshift dwellings from various materials rummaged off the surrounding waste disposal sites. There are no formal roads, no access to electricity, cooking is done on fires and there is only 1 chemical toilet and 1 tap for every 6 families! It is situated in remote bush areas as they could not risk discovery because their dwellings would have been destroyed. As a result, they are far removed from any transport, work opportunities, clinics or healthcare, schools and shops.
It is surrounded on three sides by landfill, one of which is a hazardous waste disposal site. There was even a medical waste incineration plant just outside of Skandaalkamp and all of these are used to pillage recyclable materials that are sold for an income.
Many parents are substance addicts (due to extreme depression and resulting mental health issues) and as a result the children are severely neglected. For many children, the two meals they receive at the preschool in Skandaalkamp are the only two meals they get for the day. If they didn’t attend the school, they would not be receiving any loving care, food or education. We also provide basic medical care where we can and through donations we are able to take more extreme cases for medical attention with a qualified doctor.
Skandaalkamp project has many aspects to it – there are often building projects and vegetable projects, we assist in the community, we repair houses just before the Cape Town winter to help protect families from leaking roofs which result in mould, damp conditions, destruction of what little property they have and leads to severe respiratory problems for the children. We try and use a holistic approach and our leaders work very closely with social workers to report abuse, assist with domestic violence and substance abuse issues as well as poverty relief where we can.
All of these projects run 100% on donations raised and are ongoing or annual projects.
Skandaalkamp is a rural, close-knit community and as a result is an extremely safe environment to work in. The cultural hierarchy is led by elected community elders and leaders who are responsible for discipline and harmonious co-existence in the community. As we work very closely with those community leaders, our volunteers are able to assist safely with almost any project we can to help uplift the community, provide loving care to the children or to relieve some of the extreme poverty we come across.
Nikki Pretorius, the founder of the project, is an elected community representative and has free reign to assist the community. She started the project in 2009 when she was still with social services and it has grown from a one person rescue to a wonderful project where volunteers can see immediate results and a lasting legacy. Several volunteers have fallen in love and returned to the project more than once. All of these volunteers are amazed at the progress every time they return and often comment on how wonderful it is to be a part of a project that has such a sustainable growth pattern.
If you want to do more than just teach children, this is the project for you!
Volunteers work in the preschool, vegetable garden, assist with preparing meals or when there is funding – do building projects and upgrades in the mornings. In the afternoons they assist with maintenance, cleaning, building, gardening or general community upliftment.