Under the Hanover Park sun. The whistling sound of stray bullets passing by closely, subconsciously anxious although having a joyful time outside but could at any time lead to a frightful moment finding yourself in the middle of crossfire. The ringing of coins, click of the fingers and there the dices roll as gambling circles commence.

Yes, we all know who the drug dealers are as their illegal activities are as clear as daylight. How magical it is that they are difficult to apprehend as I see their businesses break up our families and destroy our homes. The kissing of alcohol bottles purchased from illegal household outlets, all these ills encourage the occurrence of rape, abuse and many other gender-based violent activities.

So what is it like to grow up amongst these ills? Or shall we say “grow down”? At times, I ask myself: “Are we all not human beings? Where are the helpers?” Well, there are many untold stories that I cannot do justice. Yes, times are tough and life is expensive or perhaps it’s the luxuries of life that are expensive. Statistics shows that 37% of children in South Africa do not have fathers. What draws my attention are those absent fathers who do not play their roles constructively. It is scary to see how high those figures are, especially when thinking how small Hanover Park is compared to the rest of South Africa.

Highlighting the stage of infancy, we all know how vitally important the first thousand days of life is in the development and make-up of children. Apart of the absent fathers (lacking of fatherly duties) we also struggle to put a meal on the table. Sometimes supper is dry bread, counting the slices to see how long it will keep. Many pregnant mothers have no choice but to give birth at the local clinic as it’s free of charge.

Even getting there is a struggle. In some cases, mothers are forced to walk. In addition, as far as the standard of service received goes, I do not want to go into much detail, as service delivery is a big problem throughout the country. Challenges continue as diapers are bought loose at the tuck shop, ranging between R3 and R5 each, as many of us cannot afford the privilege of purchasing a whole pack.

Soon we start primary school and then high school. How does one learn or excel at school when having no breakfast is common? Maybe supper was not enough to fill our bellies. Our kids are violent at school or maybe additional factors are not only environmental, but lack of nutrition. Up to 80% of children on the Cape Flats do not get adequate nutrition, not due to shortage in food supply, but because of goods being overpriced.

Not feeling as clean or fresh because we cannot afford to put on our geysers, as units bought this morning will not cover the day. What about our books, shoes, stationery, school clothes? The only thing new is my pencil. Our Constitution may be one of the best in the world, but has only been a big lie, and merely words on paper, as many rights have clearly not been exercised but rather been violated daily, still is or will be.

How does one conclude? As I pause for a moment and near the completion of this piece, rich or poor, happy or sad, we are not different and are all human beings. As the less fortunate, we need the extra support, encouragement and a chance. Believe me, even a smile will do because we lack what ordinary families can afford to have.

Firstly, I thank the Almighty for his continuous mercies and blessings and ask forgiveness for my shortcomings. Every soul is blessed, no matter the condition you find yourselves in. We cannot repay each breath we take, even if we had all the money in the world. I apologise to you, the reader, if I have made any errors or if I have offended you in any way. I do not justify any ills occurring in Hanover Park or elsewhere, but merely shout out for those genuinely struggling and dedicate this in your honour, for never giving up and rising every time you have fallen. Remember… in order for you to become a better pencil, you need to undergo sharpening.

People grow when they are loved well. If you want others to grow, love them without agendas.