There is a great deal of poverty on the Cape Flats. If you were to drive through the different areas, 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 Tom-Ro Haven is 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.