IkamvaYouth programmes are provided to the township youth at no cost. The learners are expected to commit themselves so as to improve their results in school. The Ikamvanites in Gauteng (Ivory Park and Ebony Park) have gone beyond being just beneficiaries of the Ikamva programmes, to giving back to the community. The idea of Ikamva Cares, an initiative to give back to the community, was suggested during the 2011 Winter School.

On the 26th of May, the Gauteng Ikamvanites, in partnership with Tzu Chi Foundation embarked on a heart touching act of kindness to help an elderly woman in the Ivoty Park community. The elderly woman is known to be staying on her own for the past 12years, with no track of any of her relatives. The community members have made several attempts to have the elderly woman removed from the community. The elderly woman has developed mental health problems, and she finds herself gathering wood, brocken equipment, bones, rugs and empty containers, thus filling the house and the yard with dirty. The children in the community have labelled her a witch, because she uses a ‘vampire-like’ doll to scare them away when they tease her. Lots of rates were breeding in her house and yard, and the smell of dirty and dead rates was unpleasant to the neighbours. But she would not allow anyone set foot on her yard, which was all heaps of rubble gathered over many years.

The Ikamvanites braved the smell and the dirty to clean the house and the yard. It took at least 3hrs for the Ikamvanites and Tzu Chi volunteers to clean the house and yard, with the heap of rubble almost blocking the street. The rubble truck had to make 3loads to clear the rubble, besides the 4 loads which the Tzu Chi volunteers had cleared the previous day. The Ikamvanites were so excited they had something to give to others. The community marvelled at the learners’ act of kindness, and one of the members noted that the grown-ups in the community had failed the elderly woman, but the Ikamvanites came to her rescue from the stinking atmosphere she was living in. The community member went on to say that what the Ikamvanites had done was not only for the elderly woman, but for the whole community, citing that the rubble was a pollution to the neighbourhood, as rats were spreading to the neighbours from the elderly woman’s house. Tzu Chi Foundation has plans to demolish the almost collapsing house, and avail a new house for the elderly woman.

This is just the beginning of many such acts of kindness by Ikamvanites to give back to the community.

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” ? Mother Teresa