Nelspoort

Nelspoort lies in a long-abandoned loop of the old N1 highway between Beaufort West and Three Sisters which are pit stops on the road from Cape Town to Johannesburg. The new highway, crawling with endless trucks, is a dull murmur 25 kilometres to the west. The railway – which used to bring morning and evening trains filled with customers hungry for vetkoek (dough cakes) or Karoo lamb – hasn’t stopped here for years. Semi-feral pigs root along the tracks for scraps. The old station – a first-prize winner for being the best-kept station on the Blue Train route – is now derelict. Once-spruce railway houses are inhabited by a few old railway widows eking out an existence on miniscule pensions. The Eskom power lines swooping majestically above do not condescend to dip down to any of these dilapidated houses. Around a sharp bend is the rest of the village – a huddle of houses around the crumbling old TB Sanatorium. This hospital was the sole source of employment and income for the 3000 inhabitants of Nelspoort. It is also the reason for this hamlet’s existence. The air here was deemed to be healthy and dry and patients from as far as England came here to convalesce.

The air is clear, and the setting exquisite: a panoramic sweep of blue Karoo Mountains cradles the river course densely forested with white-thorned Acacia karoos. The surrounding hills are a treasure trove of engravings by South Africa’s first people. The shiny black dolomite rocks typical of this area have been chiselled out over centuries. There are images of the long-extinct giant buffalo with his three-metre sweep of horns. There are confused and violent images of the Anglo-Boer conflict. And among delicate images of the sacred eland are cryptic symbols whose meanings (or warnings) are lost forever.

Nelspoort page.JPG       Drainage is dug at the old abbatoir site

What challenges face the Advice Office:

Nelspoort is the poorest area in the Western Cape and after the president’s visit there in 1999 it was declared a presidential Poverty Node. Nelspoort, which developed on the original old farm, was declared a town in March 2004 after persistent lobbying by the Nelspoort Advice Office. Services could not be rendered to Nelspoort because it was not part of a municipality. Now that it is a town there are representatives on the town council, which sits in Beaufort West, the municipal centre of this region, and the interests of Nelspoorters are being placed firmly at the centre of the municipal agenda. The tranquil beauty of the cluster of white buildings at this confluence of two ancient waterways; the wealth of rock art, game and the beautiful, rare plants endemic to the Succulent Karoo biome are already attracting tourists. Other community efforts are ensuring that the delivery of services brings with it employment opportunities to the people here who are working out ways of turning their isolation into an asset, however unemployment still remains a problem. Also as in many cities and towns all over South Africa, Nelspoort has also been affected by the HIV & AIDS epidemic and the subsequent resulting increase all over the country of orphans and vulnerable children. The abuse of woman and children also remains a huge focal point on the advice office’s agenda.

Objectives and Programmes:

Taking care of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) by providing shelter for orphans at existing facilities in the town, by providing foster homes for OVCs during holidays and by providing orphans with clothing.

To develop life skills for young people through the running of four workshops over the course year with a focus on income generating projects and employment opportunities for the unemployed. Other workshops will also focus on training in project management, financial management and business skills training

To prevent the spread of HIV & AIDS in Nelspoort through a series of HIV & AIDS education workshops as well as open days.

Establishment of a development fund for training where the following courses will be sourced and attended: sustainable livelihoods approach training; computer literacy course and financial management courses.

Nelspoort Advice Office
Flat No: 2 Old Nurses Home
P.O. Box 36
NELSPOORT
6973
Tel: 023 416 1878
Fax: 023 416 1818
NPO: 037-882
Contact: Arrie Jonkers