Giving street kids of Nelson Mandela Bay hope for the future
For 23 years Marietje van der Merwe has dedicated her energy to taking care of those who live on the streets of Port Elizabeth.
Through her passion and tenacity the Khayalethu Youth Centre has been able to rehabilitate 35 young boys, giving them the chance of a brighter future.
Six years ago the centre moved into its new home in Theescombe, a dream Van der Merwe said she had thought would take at least a decade.
“Our old home was in North End,” she said.
“It was very difficult to try to teach the kids about staying away from drugs when we are surrounded by substance abusers.
“We had managed to raise R1.2m and the property was going for R2.2m.
“Two weeks before the owners were going to put the site back up for sale, we received a donation of R1m,” Van der Merwe said.
“The Lord has always been good to us.
“Most of the children at the home go to mainstream schools, while children who are placed here by the courts attend classes on site,” Van der Merwe said.
She added that they focused on teaching the boys karate, not because of the self-defence technique that comes with it but rather the discipline that is embedded in it.
Van der Merwe said that it was important for her to give children hope and a chance to form part of the great community and become good men and fathers one day.