Diepsloot, on the northern boundary of Johannesburg, has attracted huge informal settlements, and the dramatic growth in the area has meant that thousands of young people have little in the way of further education and life-skills support facilities.
A dream of Father Louis Blondel, a missionary who lived and worked in Diepsloot, was to build a youth centre as part of a larger community complex. He wanted to give school-learners and -leavers hope, self-belief and the knowledge needed to get on in life.
Tragically, Father Louis was murdered in a robbery four years ago but other organisations, including the SOFT Support Association, a French fund-raising organisation, were determined to keep his dream alive.
The local SOFT representative, Aurélia Dioré Morando, approached Lafarge South Africa for help. Lafarge partnered with the SOFT Support Association to help the first phase of the project, known as the Father Louis Blondel Centre, come to fruition.
The company’s R120 000 sponsorship, in the form of cement and readymix concrete together with plasterboard and plaster cornices from Lafarge Gypsum, has made a significant contribution to the construction of an attractive building that is currently being equipped.
The 200m² building boasts a dedicated training room and an open area with wireless internet. It will be used for various IT and technology projects aimed at developing skills and creating opportunities for the youth in Diepsloot.
The SOFT Support Association has been instrumental in raising funds to supplement donations from family and friends of Father Louis. “We are grateful to Lafarge South Africa for their help – it has given the project momentum and started the process of creating a larger community centre,” says Morando. “The construction work provided employment for local labourers and it is notable that there have not been any incidents of theft from the site.”
“We see the Centre as an important resource for the Diepsloot community and are proud to be a part of this wonderful initiative,” comments Lafarge’s Transformation Manager, Esther Seabi. “As the project nears completion, the excitement is mounting! We expect the keys will be handed over in August with an official opening in October.”