There is a great deal of poverty on the Cape Flats. If you were to drive through the different area’s, down the back lanes and alleys and around the farmer’s fields, you would see some of the hundreds of children trapped to some extent or other in the poverty that surrounds them. At almost any time of the day or evening you will groups of children wandering through the informal settlements and through the rural parts, bored and looking for something to do. That something often means trouble.
Another thing you will notice in driving around are the numbers of horses and ponies owned by the community – they can be seen tethered on the grassy verges, in backyards and on almost any small piece of ground in the townships. Some of the luckier children can be seen from time to time on horseback out in the farmer’s fields, usually going at full gallop.
It is the aim of the Tom-Ro Haven to build on the local interest in and predilection for horses and in this way to do something positive about the children living in poverty.
We will be teaching the local children to ride (or, for the many who can already gallop around on horseback, to ride in a more structured way), we will teach them how to look after horses, how to look after and repair saddles, bridles and halters, how to do groundwork with horses (i.e. work your horse while you are on foot), the importance of cleanliness in and around the stable area and the proper feeding of horses. They will learn what farriers do and also what vets do. We will also address some of the issues relating to the care of dogs and cats and other animals so that they can understand these issues as well.
We plan to develop a team of riders that can enter the various shows and gymkhanas that take place in and around Cape Town.
Philippi is a major centre for the horse-racing industry with the Gold Circle training facilities as well as independent training yards housing between them many hundreds of horses. The skills the children learn with us will stand them in good stead if they wish to later seek employment in the racing industry or in private livery yards.
Our aim in addition to giving the kids an alternative, healthy way to expend their energy is to show them that there is an attainable life beyond the squatter camps, the farm cottages or the back streets of poor, run-down townships and to encourage them to think positively about their futures.
In addition to the above we provide a facility where groups of children can be brought to our farm to have an outing with the horses. We tell them about horses, if they are physically able they can have a short ride, we give them cooldrinks, chips and biscuits and send them on their way. Typical groups that have been coming are from an Aids orphanage in Nyanga, local primary schools, St Joseph’s Home for chronically ill children and several visits from an organization that deals with children who are orphaned, abandoned or for one reason or another do not have a home to go to.
The Haven currently owns 7 horses and also has access to some of the other horses on the farm that do not belong to it.
The Tom-Ro Haven is registered with the Department of Social Development as a non-profit organisation (NPO). We have not sought tax exemption from SARS as we plan to offer riding lessons and Equine Assisted Therapy on a commercial basis to those who can afford this with the proceeds being used to fund our assistance programs.
The Haven has a constitution (approved by the Department of Social Development) and is run by a management committee that has been elected by its members. The Haven has an administrator (honorary) but no paid staff at this time.
The beneficiaries of our programs are and will continue to be overwhelmingly black (i.e. using the wider definition of black, coloured and Indian) and thus your organization will be able to claim B-BBEE points under the Socio-Economic Development category if you wish to. We can arrange for an inspection by an Independent Competent Person to verify this.
The horses owned by the Haven are all rescued horses that have either been abused or neglected in the past or where the previous owner has been unable to continue looking after the horse. After rehabilitation they are used in our various programs.
Four of these horse can be ridden (as can the other horses not owned by the Haven but to which it has access). The two that cannot were so severely abused that they have been left crippled – although they cannot be used for riding they have proved to be wonderful companions for children who are themselves injured whether physically or emotionally.
We are still new and are still building up our operations. We initially concentrated on ensuring that we had some suitable horses and that we had a suitable home with the necessary infrastructure. This has now been achieved. We plan to put the following programs into place as funds become available:
• Outings to the Farm Program: This is where groups of children from a school, an orphanage or some other institution are brought to the farm for a couple of hours, are told about horses, have the opportunity of a short ride, get some cooldrinks, chips, do-nuts etc. and are then sent on their way. We will then be handling 2 such groups a week. We are seeking volunteers who will allow us to do this at least another 3 times a week. This will mean about 200 to 250 children coming through the farm every month under this program.
• Local children: There are several children who ride ponies through the fields surrounding the farm. We have already spoken to some who have expressed a willingness to come to the farm for some formal riding lessons (no doubt the offer of free cooldrinks, chips and sweets has something to do with it!). We plan to use these kids as the nucleus of our efforts to spread into the wider local community. Apart from the free cooldrinks we will also provide some food for their ponies (some are not that well-nourished) and we will also provide help with their tack (it is often held together with wire) and with any health problems that their ponies may have. We believe we can easily find a half dozen such children who are keen. We will encourage them to bring friends who do not have access to any ponies who can then receive lessons using Haven horses. In time our ‘catchment area’ would extend to about 20 minutes pony ride from our farm and we expect to be giving lessons to some 30 to 40 children each week.
• Competitive Riding Team: Initially we will hold ‘fun’ events on the farm for Dressage, Show Jumping and Western Riding at which the children will compete against each other. The shows will be ‘practice’ shows that will also be open to people coming from other livery yards. As the children gain in confidence and skill we will take them first to ‘practice’ shows held at other yards and then to fully competitive shows.
• Skills: We will explain the care of a horse, how to groom it, how to check for injuries and so on. We will be teaching leather-work as related to saddles and bridles. Philippi is a major centre for the racing industry with Gold Circle having their training yards adjacent to our farm as well as other large independent racing yards – some of the children may be interested in future employment in this field.
For any further Queries, please do not hesitate to contact the haven
Office: 021 7013040
Office 2: 078 747 6965