Goal: R5,000.00 | Still Needed: R5,000.00 | Total Supporters So Far: 0 | Amount of People in Need: 30
When former schoolteacher Anna Kekana retired, she found herself suddenly and unexpectedly feeling purposeless. For the elderly of Vaaltyn – a Mokopane (Potgietersrus) location – as for many South African elders, retirement doesn’t look anything like it does in the movies.
It looks like loneliness. It looks like isolation. It looks like abuse.
So, in 2014, Anna started a group. A weekly gathering of Vaaltyn seniors, where they would remind one another that life is still worth living. It was slow beginnings, but through little donations from the community – a few bricks here, a doorframe there – the group built themselves a little room in which to meet, and it is here where they still gather from Mondays to Wednesdays, come rain or shine.
It is here in this small room, group member Eneriah Mashisi will tell you, where they know big things will come and find them waiting.
The project focuses on the upliftment of the elderly, and this manifests in a myriad of ways, one of which is the group’s ‘adoption’ of the area’s orphans. For these children – who either have no homes, no parents, or both – the group does more than one would expect even from those who aren’t in their sixties. By sewing clothing for them out of donated scraps and by cooking for them with their own money, the Ditebogo Old Age Project not only uplifts these children’s spirits but brightens their own.
The group’s other activities include beadwork – the products of which they sell for funds – as well as knitting and crocheting. The point, participants will tell you, is for them to keep busy. For them to use their hands, minds, and feet, and not forget that they still have a purpose.
The project receives no funding and gets by entirely on donations, a R10 p/m contribution by each member, and the bits of income made by selling their beadwork. A big dream for Anna and her group is to extend their building, which isn’t large enough to serve them properly, and to be able to afford to all have lunch together on the days they meet.
Photographer: Mosa Mailula from Abelife Designs & Productions | Voice Artist: Mawande Ndywamba | Writer: Anè Breytenbach