For many people the picturesque town of Paternoster has always been synonymous with crayfish and an abundance of seafood – and of course, the typical white washed cottages and pristine beaches awashed by the beautiful, icy blue Atlantic Ocean.
Unfortunately, the dwindling resources of some fish species (caused by industry expansion and over-fishing), has resulted in many artisan fisherman now losing a lifeline. Unemployment and poverty affects many households; and many youngsters have now become part of an opportunistic sub-culture of petty crime, drugs and smuggling with rare resources to try and survive financially.
Many women in the community are employed in the hospitality industry and have to work late shifts and unsocial hours. In some cases, their youngsters are left without proper care. Children as young as three years old selling shells on the street corner, has become the norm.
Mother and daughter Sanita and Annelize van der Merwe, started a programme in 2011 to counter this culture of life on the streets. Their passion for these children resulted in the establishment of The Paternoster Art School. Sponsors were obtained for the first year, in order to cover the disciplines of dance, music, art and craft for kids between the ages of 9 and 12.
The programme has now been running successfully for two years with a group of 25 children, and the involvement of more women from the community is a boost for the dreams and hopes of Paternoster.
The newly established Paternoster Peoples’ Partnership (PPP), is a not for profit organisation run by women in the community. It is our mission to further develop and empower the entire community, continuously establishing new goalposts and ideals to ultimately uplift the community out of poverty.