HELENVALE Primary School pupils received much-needed school shoes thanks to the Helenvale Gospel Revivals, a group known for fighting gangsterism and drugs in their community.
The school was one of three already visited by the group. There are six schools in the area and they aim to reach all of them.
“We speak to the principals of the schools and find out how many of the pupils need shoes,” said group member and former gangster Abraham Norman.
“They make a list of the names and the shoe sizes and we do the rest.”
The list is then taken to Little Slipper in North End, which provides the Helenvale Gospel Revivals with the shoes it needs at no cost.
In conjunction with this project, the group also runs a soup kitchen once a week at various schools where they provide pupils with soup and oranges. Before it gives out food, the group speaks to the children about the importance of staying in school and the dangers of falling into the wrong lifestyle.
“There are too many drop-outs,” said Norman.
“When they drop out of school they get involved in wrong-doing.”
They start smoking, he said, which eventually leads to drugs, the main one being tik.
“This is how they get into gangsterism. They start stealing, shoplifting and mugging people to get money to buy drugs,” said Norman.
Several members of the 10-man group are reformed gangsters intent on changing lives in the community. It is for this reason the group wants to get into the schools. They want to talk to the pupils before they get involved with gangs.
“We want them to make us their mentors and see the changes we made.”
Some of the members were involved in drugs, alcohol and gangsterism. Group organiser, 34-year-old Mervin Lamont, was shot in the head during a gang-related incident and miraculously survived. With a bullet still lodged in his head, he is now an evangelist in the area.
Norman said gangsters come to Helenvale to target the youth.
“They know the youngsters have a need because most of their parents are unemployed. These guys use our youngsters and get them into drugs.”
One of the group’s next projects is to go into St Albans Prison and speak to the youth involved in gangsterism. They are set on seeing changes, especially in the youth as they are the future of this country, said Norman.
“It will take long, but we have patience. There is so much we need to do but we’ll do it step-by-step. With God’s help it will happen.”
The group is in need of sponsors, not only cash, but also for food parcels and equipment like a camera, a computer and a photocopier.
Projects in the pipeline include delivering fresh fruit and vegetables to the sick and taking members of old-age homes out to lunch. At the moment group members are paying out of their own pockets.
Helenvale Gospel Revivals chairman Wilfred Mentoor can be contacted on 079-483-9622.