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Plumbers bring dignity to Place of Hope

01 Feb 2022 10:03 AM | Anonymous

A week’s work for a team of Nelson Mandela Bay plumbers helped restore dignity and basic sanitary conditions to a destitute community living on a plot of land on the outskirts of Gqeberha.

Now, the dozens of residents at Place of Hope in Greenbushes do not have to worry about raw sewage running down their streets, and their children’s health will improve along with their cleaner living conditions. Each year, the Eastern Cape branch of the Institute of Plumbers of SA identifies a project where its members band together to help the less f o r t u n at e. The initiative usually coincides with World Plumbing Day on March 11, but the institute’s regional chair, Adriaan Myburgh, said Covid-19 had forced them to delay their project last year, to the benefit of Place of Hope residents.

The team is now looking for a new project to tackle on March 11. “We couldn’t do our project in March [2021], but we refused to skip a year and started asking among our members if they had any suggestions where we could help the less f o r t u n at e. “Pieter Rademeyer [of Pieter Rademeyer Plumbers] took us to Place of Hope and within days we knew what had to be done and work began.” The owner of Place of Hope, who asked not to be named, started the shelter decades ago with her husband on a piece of land adjacent to Cape Road. They opened their gates to a handful of destitute people looking for a safe place to start over, and when they sold their land in 2007 they provided shelter for five families. They relocated the shelter to the piece of land it now occupies, and the community has grown to 26 families, comprising about 90 people.

Myburgh said when the plumbing team arrived at the property early last month, raw sewage was running down the streets between the makeshift houses on the smallholding. Children were playing in the dirty water, not realising the dangers and possible health risks involved. It turned out that the existing French drain system on the plot was inadequate for the number of people using it, and it was not emptied and treated as regularly as it should have been. Within days, more than 15 companies, consisting of members and non-members of the plumbers’ institute, volunteered materials and services to alleviate the problems at Place of Hope and contributed to building a longer-lasting solution for the community.

“We often underestimate people’s willingness to become involved in a worthy cause and we were blown away by the support this project received from the local business community,” Myb u r g h said. “Some people gave equipment, others brought materials, and then there were teams giving their time to oversee the project.” Within a week, the plumbers had cleaned out the existing drainage systems, increased their capacity and installed plumbing that would allow the shelter’s residents to expand their homes.

Myburgh said there was still a lot of work to be done to improve the community’s conditions and that it would be an ongoing project. However, the residents’ quality of life had already improved immeasurably. Rademeyer said he came across Place of Hope 10 years ago and had assisted with smaller projects at the property from time to time, but when he heard the institute was looking for a bigger project to tackle, he immediately knew the plumbers could make a real difference. “What the landowners have created here is a chance for people to start over and improve their lives, and that needs to be applauded and supported . “I am happy we could make an impact on these people’s lives , ” Rademeyer said. Resident and community leader Judith Benzies said they were grateful and humbled by the generosity.

“We would like to thank everyone involved in co-ordinating the project, including the managers, supervisors, workers and suppliers, for their selfless act to improve the lives of those in need. “We do not have the words to fully express our gratitude,” she said. Myburgh said the regional branch of the institute wanted to challenge its counterparts in other regions, as well as the broader business community, to identify projects where they could make a difference in people’s lives. “We don’t do this for the publicity, ” he said. “We do it to make a difference. “Why can’t others do the same?



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