Coming from a quiet suburb straight into the rusty, dusty, ghetto streets of Tembisa. This is how someone who does not know the hood would describe it. I moved to Ivory Park exactly three years ago. It was not due to certain desires, but rather the financial load my family was experiencing. Ivory Park is no different from any other hood In Tembisa, nor is it a place I would choose to be if I had a choice. Although sacrifices were made, so what can I say as it is now a place I call home.

I still think about what people say about Ivory Park – a place full of crime and murder, a place that was not made for me, but who said a person has a certain place made for them? All it takes is adjustment to make a place a home. Most of the neighbours are friendly and kind, although some of them are not. It is like a garden that grows all different kinds of flowers, from simple roses to sunflowers. Its soil chooses no seed, purely nourished and watered by people who wish to succeed. It is truly a rainbow nation, filled with people from different locations.

It was hard to get used to the day-to-day basics, but something that caught my eye was the amount of alcohol people in this place consume – you would swear it was the weekend everyday. I often ask myself, how can these people afford to feed their addiction because most are unemployed.

Ivory Park has a problem with unemployed youth. It is a quiet place filled with people who are trying by all means to make ends meet. Simple street vendors and corner stores can be found at the palms of your hands in Ivory and like a jungle everyone is out hunting for their prey.

Like any other place we are faced with certain problems, such as substance and drug abuse. There is constant partying, loud music and the voices of those who roam the streets at night, leaving their beds to go out and look for a good time. Sometimes I am like an owl or a bat, as my ears miss no sounds in the night. I hear gunshots, the bloodshed, the innocent cries of the weak as they are mugged and beaten in defeat and the cries of those who are caught and justice brought upon them by angry mobs who know no peace, due to their greed as they are turned to ashes. All that is left is mere dust that is washed away by the wind. Their families wondering where could they be? What has become of their children? They hide their deeds from their parents and brainwash them with empty gifts. My ears are witness to what my eyes have failed to see in these gruesome streets.

My ‘hood’ is unique in its own way – the spirit of the community, the love that pours out to those in need, the joy of playful children as their cheers shower the streets. Although, it is faced with its own challenges, we work together as a force to make it a better place for tomorrow, for future tales to be told of its struggles, its pains, and the treasures of what we have lost and gained.

This is my home, my hood and a place that will forever shine.