Ocean View, the place that will forever hold my heart, for all that I am is rooted in this community. Established in 1968 as a result of the Group Areas Act. Legislation that forced racial segregation. This Act enabled the brutal and forceful relocation of my father and his family, and many others like them, to areas of complete desolation and isolation.
This, however, gave birth to a community of enormous courage and determination. Ocean View!
A face from my childhood. Walking the streets with her friends, all a few years older than me. They walked with a rebellious demeanour – so confident and ready to defend themselves against any harm that may come their way on the streets . . .
Now, some 30-odd years later I beam with great pride each time I come across a Facebook post of Groundbreakers NPO. Founded by this face from my childhood, Nadia Petersen (not related). Recalling the 80s and 90s, knowing the struggle that was etched on her face and that of her friends, and following her community work on social media. This, the courage and determination that I speak of.
“I was born into poverty, the elders of 6 siblings. My mom was murdered when I was four years old and for the most part of my childhood my dad was in and out of prison. My grandmother raised me but growing up was tough. Life challenges didn’t make it easy on me and I found myself being a victim of child abuse. Daily my rights were violated, and I soon fell into a world of rebellion.” – Nadia Petersen, Groundbreakers NPO.
Reading and poetry was her escape from her harsh realities as a child. Often wishing that she could die . . . However, on a particularly dark day. Feeling an overwhelming sense of depression and pain, she opened up a YOU magazine and a passage in a short story changed her life. It spoke to her in an unimaginable way, connecting her to a self that she never knew lived within her. It read:
“Lord make my end known to me and what is the measure of my days so I may know how frail I am.” Shortly thereafter she met her husband, changing her life for the better, living a purpose in Christ.
Her own lived experience of poverty, abuse and hopelessness allowed her to relate to the children and youth in Ocean View. Being an active member in the community, she founded Groundbreakers NPO in 2013. The objective? To reach out and help the community with their basic needs. To inspire and motivate the youth to contribute positively to life, including their own lives, through their actions.
This objective is achieved through collaborating and pulling in resources to help develop community and create safe recreational spaces for children and youth. Focussing predominantly on the rights of the child and the responsibility of the parents/caregivers. Supporting, uplifting and educating.
When asked about COVID-19, she responds with a heavy heart.
“It highlighted the lack of food security and high unemployment rate in our coloured communities. Fear gripped our people. They couldn’t look for work, could not provide for their children. Before COVID-19 I signed a 2-year contract with the City of Cape Town, my dream job since I left school, with a possibility of permanent employment. BUT every day I would come home from work and children would ask me for food. It was devasting! It is with this that I decided to follow my heart and focus on Groundbreakers NPO full time. Yes, I gave up my dream job, but I know that in 10-years, that child that I help feed today, may go on to help feed many more!”
Nadia reminds us that tomorrow is not promised. “Life can change instantly. Live your life to the fullest by discovering your purpose and passions and place it in God’s hands and he will take care of it.”
Groundbreakers NPO serve up to two meals per day to 150 -200 people and provide support to 50 children as part of their after-school project. In addition to this they host and facilitate various special community events and workshops throughout the year.
You too can get involved in this organisation by liking, following and sharing their Facebook Page. Better yet, connect directly with Nadia at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can support their work. Funding, volunteers and donations in kind is high on the list of current needs.