A project in Delft may be the blueprint for empowering disadvantaged communities as it converts abandoned or disusedbuildings to become powerful points of change.

Reverend Charles George with some of the youth attending arts and
crafts classes at the centre.

Looking at the well-kept grounds of the Home of Compassion Ministries building on the corner of Eindhoven and Rhine roads in Delft, you would not believe this was once a broken down shell of a building. Upon entering, there is a sense that everybody is part of making a positive change in their community, and they want it to spread across the country where
change is needed. Reverend Charles George heads the projects that come from this building and he is passionate about their activities and how they can empower the disadvantaged.

This all started with a vision that he had with his wife Delecia in 1993. “We started various projects in the Western Cape but somehow we saw that God wanted us to do something special here in Delft,” he said. “There were just so many socio-economic and spiritual challenges in this community that we knew we had to be here.” In 1995 and 1996 they left for Johannesburg to attend the Rhema Bible Training Centre to equip themselves for the tasks ahead.

When they returned they started the Home of Compassion Ministries. “Our vision is to free the community from oppression of poverty, hopelessness, unemployment and foster a culture of hope by providing the necessary skills and awareness programmes to stimulate the community’s Godgiven abilities and empower them so that they can in turn bring about a change in their own deprived community,” continued George.

“On a daily basis, through different projects addressing issues such as hunger, child abuse, substance abuse, crime, gangsterism, and teenage pregnancies, TB HIV/Aids and skills training, we take a ‘holistic’ approach towards community upliftment and community empowerment. “This is not just a spiritual and social struggle; it is a financial one too. In order to achieve real empowerment we need to break the shackles and the barriers to entry imposed by the conventional economy. “Through interventions across the chain of needs we provide ways and means for our communities to enter into economic and social developments of their own doing.”

Today the Home of Compassion Ministries is growing – stakeholders have come to recognise the impact that can be
achieved based on their knowledge and experience in the Delft and Blikkiesdorp communities. “Recently our partners in local government as well as the YPO internationally, have asked us to share our knowledge and success to assist in introducing similar initiatives across the Western Cape, as well as nationally and internationally,” he added.

They have provided pastoral services and engaged in various community upliftment and social cohesion programmes. They also feed, via smaller outsourced feeding schemes, 25 000 per day in the area. Provincial government’s Amanda Brinkman feels that George is a true innovator and says the provincial government is already in the process of finalising an inventory of immovable property that can be used for similar purposes. “The Radio City Building in Delft was vandalised to within an inch of its life, windows broken, geysers ripped through the ceilings, and worse ... Home of Compassion took occupation of the building on 4 January 2010 and within four weeks they had renovated the bottom floor. Today, the centre is fully renovated and includes a community library, cafe, training centre and a call centre which is run as a social enterprise and which co-funds the centre.”

Mothers or fathers attending courses at the centre have the services
of a creche to take care of the children while they are busy studying.

Visit www.homeofcompassion.co.za or call 021 955 2990.

Photos and article: GARY VAN DYK, TygerBurger - Wednesday 27 April 2011