Posted by Swellengram

“Not on our Watch!”

  • Posted 2 months ago
  • Local Stories

Project Hope sprang into action…..

The community of Railton was shaken by the distressing news of a young girl’s assault. Vicky Bezuidenhout, who has long facilitated community information groups and is herself the mother of a daughter, felt the news deeply. It spurred her to harness the power of her groups and her role in the community to strengthen and uplift young women.

In no time, Project Hope sprang into action, channelling the collective outrage into something powerful, something protective. The Pepper Spray Project was born from a desperation to arm daughters, sisters, and mothers with more than just prayers.

The call for donations echoed through the community, and the response was overwhelming. It was as if every coin dropped into the fund was a declaration: “Not on our Watch!”. And so, on 27 April 2024, the Senior Secondary School Hall became a fortress of solidarity, with 350 women gathered, young and old, ready to learn, ready to fight back.

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Nellie Gertse, the MC, stood before the assembled crowd, her voice a soothing balm yet laced with steel as she invoked a higher power to watch over them. Annelise Ruiters, the head of Railton’s newly formed Neighbourhood Watch, laid it out plain and simple—stay sharp, stay safe, and know that there’s a team watching over Railton’s nights and days.

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SAPS officers, Cst DS Visagie and Sgt LMP Claasen, didn’t sugarcoat the bitter truths about domestic violence, nor did they shy away from the harrowing steps to take if the worst were to happen. Their words were a sobering reminder of the dangers lurking in the shadows.

But it wasn’t all grim. Sensei Almary Rossouw, a pint-sized powerhouse, had them all on their feet, laughter mingling with the occasional shriek as they mimicked her moves. When she effortlessly flipped her partner over her shoulder, the hall erupted, not just in applause, but in a shared moment of triumph.

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Everyone left not just with heavier hearts, but with hands full of sweet naartjies from Swellenfruit and the weight of pepper sprays in their pockets—a tangible reminder that they were not defenceless.

However, the outreach didn’t end there. With a surplus of sprays, Vicky took to the streets of Railton, finding those who couldn’t make it to the hall. Their gratitude, their excitement – it made the importance of this project so evident.

Project Hope aptly reflects its mission through its name. It emerged from the collective efforts of a dedicated community, united in their stand against adversity. Each contribution, including the provision of pepper sprays, transcended mere self-defence; it symbolised the gift of hope. The project’s success is a testament to the collaborative spirit of all involved: Nellie Gertse’s thorough planning, Pastor Chester Adams’ leadership, the insightful contributions of various speakers, Dr Adonis’ generous provision of a venue, Swellenfruit’s donation of citrus fruits, and particularly Vicky’s unwavering resolve. Her tenacity, in the face of scepticism and criticism, has been instrumental in igniting a new era of hope and empowerment.

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“Dankie aan SSS Hoof Dr. Sheridon Jerome Adonis en Opvoeders en Sbl vir die gebruik van die skool saal, Swellendam Polisie: Kolonel Tiemie, Kaptein Elton Green, Sersant Leando Claasen en Konstabel Deveen Visagi as Sprekers, alle Beamptes, Railton Buurtwag : Voorsitter Annelise Ruiters en Haar Span, Railton Gemeenskaps Leiers : Mnr. Jeffrey.R.Matthysen en alle rolspelers, asook die uitgebreide gemeenskap veral die begunstigdes wat die pepper spray ontvang het en dan Vicky wat die hartklop is van Projek Hope”

Enrico Wilhelm Chester Adams

“Hiermee wil ek Nellie Gertse, gebore inwoner van Swellendam Railton gemeenskap baie dankie sê aan die koordineerdre Vicky Bezuidenhout met die koordinering van die Projek Hope Pepper Spray. Ons as gemeenskapsforum in Railton het saam met Vicky gewerk waarvan ek die kontakpersoon was om die databasis van vroue in die gemeenskap te versamel. Hierdie vroue het Saterdag 27 April saam getrek waar ons sterk verteenwoordig was, en die verskillende sektore ook. By die geleentheid het vroue en jong dogters van Swellendam Sekondere Skool, Bontebok primer en VRT Pitte Laerskool hulle ingeteken en dan ‘n botteltjie peper spring ontvangs geneem. Ons het die SAPD Swellendam, CPF en Railton Buurtwag Sektor 2 gehad wat ook deel van hierdie dag uitgemaak het asook Self Verdediging instruksies vanaf Traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu, onder leiding van Sensei Almary Rossouw, begelei deur Nikki Stuart and Sempai Zaividine Philander.
Aan die einde het Swellenfruit vir ons lieflike naartjies gegee waarop ons ook vir elkeen wat daar van die gemeenskap teenwoordig was ‘n sakkie nartjies kon gee. Ons wil almal wat teenwoordig was baie, baie dankie se vir die sukskesvolle dag.”

Nellie Gertse
Swellendam Tourism

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