Against the whirring sounds of old weed eaters guzzling the overgrown grass around the Joza Youth Hub, I asked Supervisor Nyoka, from the Parks and Maintenance Department, about his work. Mr Nyoka himself had been sent to the Hub by the new Makana Parks supervisor, Wandile Duruwe. Being quite used to having phone calls and emails to the municipality ignored, we were delighted to get such a timely and positive response from both these men.
The Joza Youth Hub, a voluntary non-profit organisation, occupies a section of the Makana Municipality’s Housing Department and, against very many odds, runs its after-school programmes for children in Joza. Our work encompasses music education, computer literacy, early childhood activities through our toy library, and literacy development for primary school children. Our most recent addition has been our chess club.
While our young students are delighted to be engaged in this enriching after-school life, we volunteers have been deeply frustrated at the slow pace at which decisions are taken about our Hub’s upkeep and future.
Many repairs at the Hub are long overdue. Due to very short leases from the municipality (including, most recently, the possibility of having to pay commercial tariffs) and a lack of funding, we have been unable to make our space more conducive to animate our vision for a holistic learning experience for our children.
For example, we have struggled to have the grass at the Hub and its surroundings cut for years. It is the responsibility of the Municipality to maintain the Hub, but our requests have generally fallen on deaf ears. We have, on occasion, had to bring in private gardening services, at costs we can ill-afford, to do minimal clean-ups.
So, to find such a speedy response to our request uplifted our hearts. Within two days of making some calls to Mr Duruwe, Supervisor Nyoka arrived with his team to help us make the space around our building clean and inviting for our Open Day planned for Saturday, May 14. Both these men were responsive to my request for a long-overdue clean-up of the Joza Youth Hub. It was such a pleasure to see Mr Nyoka’s team hard at work for three days at the Hub this week.
In talking to Mr Nyoka and Mr Duruwe, I discovered how frustrated their workers are about the lack of the essential equipment and materials to work efficiently. The dust that filled the air as they painstakingly cut the grass highlighted the need for protective eyewear. They ran out of weed eater cord, which we had to buy for them as it would take a lengthy bureaucratic process to get it from their department.
Sometimes, Mr Nyoka is forced to use his personal tools to complete their cleaning tasks. While I was there, the workers took a little tea break, but their manager, Mr Duruwe, paid for their food. To contemplate a refund from his department was unthinkable, as it would involve many months of waiting.
For me, who has come to internalise, like many others, the belief that our workers don’t care, it was eye-opening to recognise the many obstacles they face daily in carrying out their duties. It would be worth the while for the municipality to investigate the everyday reality of their workers’ lives and make it easier for them by minimising red tape and facilitating access to the tools of the trade.
We at the Hub are immensely grateful to these hardworking people for their cooperative spirit and for doing their work so joyfully and with pride.
Thank you so much, Mr Duruwe, Mr Nyoka and your team! We salute you!
Joza Youth Hub