My name is Jadene Van Neel and I am 19 years old. I live on the Cape Flats in Seawinds, which is an extension of Steenberg. Seawind is surrounded by different areas, the area that is known for its “bad” reputation is Lavender Hill, the other two neighboring areas are Hillview and Overcome. All of these areas are notorious for gangsterism, domestic violence, abuse and poverty, high rate of unemployment, teenage pregnancy and a high dropout rate for scholars. Though these areas are very scary to live in, it’s my Home.
I’ve lived in Seawind all my life and life here is bitter/sweet. I was raised by my single mother, who – with the help of my grandmother – was able to support all my needs including putting me through Primary and High schooling until I was able to complete my Matric, a milestone not many get to reach in my community. I am the third generation in my family and the only child. My grandmother works as a domestic worker twice a week, my mother is currently unemployed and I am fresh out of High School doing my second year Internship for Earthchild Project (ECP). I’ve been a part of Earthchild Project for almost 10 years. I was introduced to ECP when I was 10 years old and in Grade 4 at Zerilda Park Primary here in Seawind, and since then I’ve been inseparable from Earthchild Project. Earthchild Project inspired me to be a better person, not just for myself, but for my community, in hope that I can one day inspire more young people living around me.
The 1st January 2020 was a day of excitement, happiness and full of new year’s resolutions…and now we are in the middle of a world-wide pandemic. I never imagined that I would be living in a time that would bring the world to a complete lockdown. This is part of our history, it is part of what will not just influence my world experiences, but will shape the world experiences of so many children, youth and grown ups. We are going through this now not knowing what the new world will be like when this pandemic passes. While most of South Africa is in lockdown, people in my street and in my community are going about their daily lives. Everything is normal over here. Nothing has changed.
This pandemic has affected many of us emotionally, physically and mentally, but most of all, so many people have lost their jobs. Majority of the people in my community struggle to feed their families. Even though people in my community are aware that they should not wander the streets, they must wear their masks and practice social distancing most of the time they are walking around in search of help and support. Unemployment has increased drastically and there is no form of income for most people in my community.
I am blessed that I am still getting an income and that our churches are providing food parcels to my family. Now that we get food parcels it makes things so much easier for us and some money that I earn can be saved and the rest used for other necessities. I have hope and I am looking at the brighter side of this situation we are faced with. I now have the opportunity to spend quality time with my mom and grandmother and it’s so precious. Together we have sung, laughed and had quiet time. My mom has also been helping me record my yoga videos I send every week to the children we are able to reach. I value this time so much that I even get to focus on self care, eating healthier and exercising has become part of my lockdown routine.. Being at home has allowed me to slow down, reconnect with my family as well as myself.