Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers

The Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers, who engaged in one of the longest civil disobedience road occupations in South African history, built a thriving community on Symphony Way - despite their dire poverty. While they lived on the road from February 2008 until November 2009, the community worked together to stamp out crime and drugs, ensure that every family is able to go to bed on a full stomach, and take care of their children.

CHOSA played a supportive role providing a once-off grant to build their informal daycare centre and a small monthly grant to help things get going. With out help, the community was able to run a free volunteer daycare program, a community drama group, a soccer team and a netball team. Rene, one of the mothers living in the community, was also able to ensure that all its children were inrolled and attending school everyday.

For more on what the community was able to achieve, read the following article published in the local Cape Argus:


Symphony Way residents live in harmony

By Tanya Farber
April 11 2008 - Cape Argus

In Symphony Way, where the evicted Delft residents take pride in their pavement-based community, life is all about making a plan.

Pulling up a chair for a guest means fetching an old wooden box or a tin drum.

And when it comes to the youngest members of the community, nobody shies away from innovative thinking.

For resident Jane Roberts, known as Aunty Jane to all her neighbours, a community creche is the most important thing. It doesn't matter how makeshift it might be, or if it pops up on a different section of the pavement each morning, because there are more than 200 toddlers needing care.

"In our community, there are some moms and dads who work, but even for the many that don't, it is better for the kids to be together socialising," she says.

With no proper structure as yet, it is difficult for her and the other volunteers to make it fully functional but when a donated container that has been promised arrives and when the structure made from found objects is big enough, they are hoping to also provide aftercare for those at primary school, and homework supervision for those at high school.

"The teachers are all volunteers and we call it our community creche. If I've got something, I bring it for the children.

We can't ask the parents because they don't have anything. We have no sponsors and only a few toys have been donated, but we are from the struggle. We know what it is to struggle. We can manage," says Aunty Jane.

Monique Adriaanse, who also offers help to the little ones, says: "We don't want to go cap in hand to the government because they don't want us here in the first place. We just want the moms to be satisfied and the little children to be happy."

For the older children attending primary and high school, life in pavement shacks has not stopped the adults from making sure they have transport.

"We make a plan for them to get to school," says resident Jerome Daniels, who is also a leader in the Anti-Eviction Campaign. "Kenny the plumber takes some of them in his bakkie."

In true Symphony Way style, Kenny the plumber is also Kenny the driver and on Friday and Saturday nights he hosts his karaoke evenings.

But, on any week day, the music you're most likely to hear is the evangelical wailing of Harold Long who moves along the street with his old loudhailer on his decorated bike.

4 ways you can help

Four ways YOU can change the world through children: