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Cape Town has always been a tale of two Cities, the divide between rich and poor is glaringly obvious if you care to step out of your comfort zone even for a little while. Many vulnerable families find themselves pushed to the margins of society because of the critical lack of job and housing opportunities. This is a picture that is replicated across the country.

For the hundreds of families living in Wolwerivier, a temporary relocation camp 30 km outside of Cape Town, it’s not just about worrying where the next meal will come from, but their isolation is putting their health at risk.

Wolwerivier was established in 2014 as a stopover for families from nearby informal settlements. They include hundreds of families from Skandaalkamp, a community of subsistence farmers and rag pickers who lived on the Vissershok landfill.

Activist and philanthropist Nikki Pretorius has been a fixture in the lives of the community for several years, and her passion for helping people has been unwavering. She established an Educare centre in Skandaalkamp, but when the families were relocated to Wolwerivier she followed.

She realised the desperate need for a medical facility there, to take care of the little things, which she says can become quite serious if left untreated.

She started raising funds, and that’s where the legacy of Aksel Otterbeck’s life begins. The 19 year old Swede was doing volunteer work in Cape Town in 2016, when he tragically lost his life.

After he was knocked over by a car in Table View in December of that year, Aksel’s grieving dad Jesper asked people to donate money for the worthy cause of helping residents in Wolwerivier access medical services, instead of sending flowers.

Over R120 000 was raised during a crowd funding campaign, and the facility is today housed in a shipping container and proudly bears the name “Aksel’s Memorial Clinic”.

Pretorius provides basic medical services to residents, many who are long-term patients, and a doctor volunteers for two hours on a Wednesday to write prescriptions. Pretorius says there is an ongoing need for medical supplies, and they also need people who can volunteer their time.

“It’s often things you don’t really think of that we need, as NGO’s and charities in general, what we could use most from the public is their time, in terms of professional skills especially. Having somebody who is prepared to give up an hour a week to help with bookkeeping, marketing or even social media.”

Nikki and Aksel’s impact on the community of Wolwerivier, and by extension Aksel’s family, should inspire all of us to give of our time, generously. It’s only when ordinary people step up and help those who can’t help themselves, that we will be able to make any progress at all to close the inequality gap.If you want to get in touch with Nikki visit the Sunshine School SA Facebook page, or call her on 082 828 9307.

Liesl (1)

Liesl Smit – Senior Reporter and Anchor, Smile 90.4FM News