Nelson Mandela Bay groups tackling poverty, unemployment together

Unemployment and Poverty Workshop attendees pinpoint their outreaches on a Nelson Mandela Bay ward map. (PHOTO: Frankie Simpson).

Looking over the full hall at the poverty and unemployment workshop in the South End Museum last Thursday I realised there are many Christian churches and NPOs engaged in uplifting unemployed people in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.

This was further emphasised when those present mapped out their collective outreach in the Bay during the meeting organised by Transformation Christian Network (TCN) and Ikhala Trust as a follow-up to one which took place in November 2017.

Bernie Dolley of Ikhala Trust opened the morning by saying it was all about empowering people and that as all of us collaborate together it will enable us to make things happen in the social justice and unemployment arenas.

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She said that when we work alone we get tired of addressing needs but when we work with others we can do more. We need to use the strengths and assets of communities to leverage the social interventions.

She also spoke about funding and said that her German funding will run out and she needs to show results of the social impact to funders.

Strengthening communities
She then asked: “Are we addressing poverty and are we creating jobs?” On government funding she said there is R256-billion circulating in South Africa in the NGO sector, so money is not the issue – what we need is to build the strength of communities to voice what they want. We need to take responsibility and build people’s confidence. We need to show people we care deeply enough to effect change and not treat them like clients. We need to encourage them to look at themselves and ask: “What can I do to improve myself?”

She also spoke about the tourism industry, saying we should not underestimate Port Elizabeth as being a great destination for visitors because last year she was part of a conference of 170 people from 73 countries held in Port Elizabeth and many of the attendees said they planned to come back here.

She offered to supply seedlings to those who are promoting food security if they were willing to collect from her.

Nehemiah Project
Trevor Jennings of TCN followed up by saying that we must work with the government and make things happen. He spoke of the Nehemiah pilot project which is working with ward volunteers, where so far, 18 wards out of 60 have been covered.

This project is based on Nehemiah having all the builders of the walls of Jerusalem doing so, while also being ready to fight against attack from the enemy – work and prayer are needed at all times.

Jennings said that they had identified focus areas and would like to approach people who could be a source of reference and who were prepared to share their knowledge with others, saying: “We are here to inspire and help one another, not to grow anyone’s network for personal reasons.”

He warned that people were looking at the integrity of church leaders to deliver the goods.

Everyone was then asked to collect coloured pins representing the outreach they are involved in – white: education, job creation, skills training, youth, children, disability; green: food security; red: gender issues for both men and women; blue: sports, arts and culture; black: elderly; yellow: other – health, environment, safety and security or any other.

The pins were then placed on a ward map of Port Elizabeth within the wards where the outreaches were being  carried out. At the end the map showed a wonderful array of pins, highlighting how much is being done already — and what if harnessed together could be a mighty force for change and upliftment of people’s lives in the metro.

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