Project Spark

Bringing hope for deprived children

Report 2017

I arrived in Franschhoek, South Africa in November 2007 at the request of a young friend. He thought that I would be able to ‘make a difference’ and could help members of the abused and disadvantaged black community who were living in appalling conditions. Aids, drink and drugs were rife.  Shanty towns of 10,000 inhabitants were hidden away behind the mountains well concealed from the small group of international multi-millionaire wine growers in the Franschhoek valley. With the support of the Trustees I decided that Project Spark would give ten years to the poverty stricken residents of the squatter camps of Tsotsjomeni, Mooiwater, and Langrug.

I began by persuading the local municipality to give us 1,200 square metres of snake filled wasteland. With hard manual labour, we transformed this into a flourishing vegetable garden which produced sufficient vegetables to supply two soup runs to the squatter camps. Water and drainage were in short supply so piped water holes needed to be erected for the washing of clothes and humans! In the grounds of two local primary schools we were able to create further vegetable gardens with their own irrigation systems. Under supervision and as part of the “General Science section of the school curriculum, all nine to ten year old children worked in the vegetable garden. Our pleas for a supply of electricity were eventually heard and as a result four primary schools now have computer rooms and well stocked libraries. 

We had now tackled malnutrition, poverty and education. Over the next five years we moved on to focus our resources on the establishment of facilities to meet the continuing needs of the squatter camps. We have been able to improve general health and to tackle the drink/drug related problems in the camps. For victims of  child abuse every day is a struggle for survival. In order to meet the needs of these children the Trust provided funding to employ highly specialised social workers to offer daily therapeutic support and appropriate care to children who have been raped and violated: children who have suffered daily abuse and associated trauma and for whom the healing process will be lengthy. Thanks to the constant support, care and unconditional love of the dedicated social workers the healing process has begun.

After ten years I have returned home to the UK.  In the squatter camps I have now witnessed the unfolding of happy and productive young lives; residents with a sense of belonging and of empowerment, that I would never have believed to be possible when I arrived. I so often felt defeated and believed our task of ‘making a difference’ to be impossible. But, determination, organisation, innovation and good leadership transform the impossible into the possible. I thank  those who have done so much, for all their support and their help. Without it none of this would have been possible.

Sally Trench    Director

  • Sue Simmons, Project Spark, 3rd Floor
  • 12 Gough Square
  • London
  • EC4A 3DW

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