QQ Community Crèche – Rising from the ashes: the phoenix-like power of grassroots democracy


The community of QQ Section, Khayelitsha has bounced back in an incredible fashion from the heartbreaking fire that ravaged the settlement last December.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of our family of donors, CHOSA was able to respond to a call by the QQ Community Executive Committee – an affiliate of the social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shackdwellers Movement) – to a coalition of concerned individuals and organizations they approached in the aftermath of the devastation with a grant of R30,000.

The blaze had destroyed more than 70 homes and razed the CHOSA-supported QQ Community Crèche (Day Care Center) completely to the ground. By the time the firemen arrived, the damage was already done, and donations from city disaster services could hardly even begin to compensate for the losses. But the donations raised by CHOSA and others in the coalition enabled the community to address many pressing needs, including the rebuilding of shacks and the day-care center, as well as basic furnishings and materials.

The way the community came together after the fire has boldly demonstrated the strength and effectiveness of community organizing. In the wake of the devastation, volunteers from the Executive Committee and across the community came together to document the needs of each family affected in order to ensure that all available resources would go directly to those who needed it. In an amazing show of energy and commitment, the community was able to rebuild the day-care center over the holidays, in time to reopen on January 13. While the center still needs furniture, tables, and books, they have been able to purchase mattresses and blankets for the children, as well as a new carpet, new cupboards for the kitchen, and a new gas stove. In addition, CHOSA staff members have organized some donations of toys and educational games.

One of the day care center’s biggest losses in the fire was their financial books for 2009 and 2010. While there are digital copies of the 2009 records, not a trace of last year’s records remain other than bank statements. To prevent another loss, CHOSA’s team on the ground has been working with the newly-elected Children’s Committee, which operates the crèche, to improve book-keeping practices and financial accounting. As the crèche and the community at large continue moving forward, they are a shining example of what communities can achieve through the power of grassroots mobilization.

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