News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 19th 2019

Township dance group helps family in need

Members of the Africa Jam dance group based in Makhaya help build a bigger shack for Samkelo Ntlabathi and his family in RR informal settlement, Khayelitsha

A Khayelitsha-based dance group is helping improve the lives of residents in the area through a project called Imbewu (translation: seeds) which identifies families in need and assists them in whatever way possible.

The Africa Jam dance group which base themselves in Makhaya, Khayelitsha have most recently helped build a shack for the Ntlabathi family in Khayelitsha’s RR informal settlement.

Dance group member Lungelwa Tu said she was touched by a bright young man by the name of Samkelo Ntlabathi who used to pass by her house on his way to school every morning for two years, but then one day she no longer saw him.

“I started inquiring about Samkelo, it is then that it was brought to my attention that Samkelo was not out of school by choice but his family situation led him to this decision and slowly he started doing drugs,” said Tu.

She said when she and other members of the group went to visit him they found the 20-year-old living in a tiny shack with his mother, father and 15-year-old brother.

The shack was filled with holes due to rotting building material. They had no toilet, running water or electricity.

She said she was shocked to discover the family sometimes went for days without food and could not afford a litre of paraffin.

“Sam just smiled and said ‘this is normal to me’.”

She said Samkelo only started getting emotional when he shared the story of the death of his four-year-old brother who died in a car accident two years ago. It was his brother’s death that led him to drop out of school in order to try find work to support his 15-year-old brother Litha.

Tu said Samkelo’s mother Neziwe is epileptic but tries to make a little money by doing laundry for other people while his father Siphiwo Ntsimango looks for part-time ‘piece work’ by standing at the side of the road hoping to get picked up by a contractor.

Africa Jam group member, Loyiso Damoyi said they helped build a larger, sturdier shack for the family and provided groceries and school stationary for Litha.

Damoyi said this was the second family they had so far helped in Khayelitsha.

Samkelo said he was incredibly grateful for what Africa Jam was doing for his family.

“The was house was full of holes, when it rained so much water came in that it felt like we were living outside, but now I’m happy, Africa Jam has re-built it.” —Nombulelo Damba

Tags: Africa Jam, Housing, Imbewu, Khayelitsha, Lungelwa Tu

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