15 August 2008
Five months ago, our director, Synnøv Skorge, was approached by the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) with an exciting proposition. A shelter was badly needed in the Worcester area, a large farming community some 100 km from Cape Town. As the SBC had the expertise, would we assist the DSD and the Worcester municipality to develop an already ear-marked house into a shelter. Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity, as it fitted so well into one of our strategic plans to replicate our centre and shelter model wherever possible.
A meeting with Synnøv, the DSD and the mayor of Worcester was duly set up. This resulted in an agreement that the DSD and Worcester municipality would fund SBC to manage the shelter and employ its staff for the first year, where after the shelter would be registered as an NPO and continue with its own development.
Synnøv and Shumeeze, our financial administrator, who had accompanied her, came back from their meeting, raving about the house which is set outside Worcester, surrounded by mountains and fynbos.
Two shopaholics on our staff were soon off to Worcester to buy furniture, beds, kitchen appliances and much more. After two days of visiting shop after shop in freezing weather – the surrounding mountains were covered in snow – and repeatedly filling the van with merchandise to take out to the house, they returned to the Centre, mission accomplished and their appetite for shopping well sated.
All the SBC staff took a day off to set up the house as part of a team-building exercise. Rooms were swept; beds put together and made up, each bedroom with matching duvets and pillows; crockery, cutlery and other kitchen appliances unpacked, all with a deep sense of satisfaction that we could do this for the traumatized women and children who would come here, seeking safety and peace.
Finally, on 15 August, the shelter was officially opened by the MEC for Social Development in the Western Cape, Minister Zodwa Magwaza. The new staff members – project coordinator Heather West and night supervisors Bertha Klein and Felicity Fransman – were welcomed and they will be ready to open the doors to the first clients on 1 September 2008.
We are very proud of our new baby and look forward to helping and watching it develop and grow. Our heartfelt thanks go to the Executive Mayor of the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Mr Clarence Johnson and to the W C Department of Social Development for their financial and moral support for this project. This is the first time in the Western Cape that a municipality has taken the initiative to start a shelter by providing a house and start-up costs.