Students brighten up Wynberg counselling centre

25 November 2002

Decor for a cause: Second-year social work students Mandy van Niekerk (left) and Ruth Lensen were the organisers of an initiative to redecorate the Life House Centre in Wynberg.

WHAT started off as research for a social work course assignment snowballed into a fundraising and redecorating event for UCT second-year social work students.

Social work students Mandy van Niekerk and Ruth Lansen recently got a team of classmates to volunteer to paint and redecorate the Life House Centre in Wynberg. The Centre is a rehabilitation and counselling centre for parents and children who are experiencing social problems. The Friday and Saturday event involved scrubbing down and painting the walls of the rather large reception area and toilet. The once “dreary” building was transformed into a warm, brightly coloured sanctuary, with 15 litres of paint and a little imagination.

Van Niekerk explains that none of the staff members was present during the redecorating, and where very shocked to see the radical change on the Monday morning. “They are very happy, and for us it has been amazing to know that we have made a difference in peoples lives. Even if it is a small one.”

According to the pair, the initiative was prompted by a visit to the centre earlier in the year that involved research for a project they where compiling. “We found that it was really dreary and miserable, the toys were old and not in a good condition. If you are a child who is already from a difficult situation, you cannot be too comfortable in there,” Lansen remarks.

Inspired to get involved and do something for the community, they appealed to the Cape Town Rotary Club — who donated money — and organised sponsors for paint and utensils. Staff members and students in the Social Work Department donated toys and their time.

“The whole process only took two days, but we learnt a lot and we made contacts in the community and in the field. As social workers we saw a need and tried to address it. Our work as social workers is about community involvement, ” says Lensen.

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