“My favourite, oh, wait. I’m first going to say who I am, like what kind of person I am. I’m a very chill person. I always feel bad for the children on the streets, and I love going to church. My favourite colour is red. I am 13, turning 14 this year.”
Chelsea is part of the Amy Foundation’s after-school programmes in Bonteheuwel, and usually bounces between the dance, netball, and literacy programmes. She has lived in Bonteheuwel her whole life, and is used to the constant violence and danger in the neighborhood. But her family has enough food for every meal, and she has a place to sleep every night, and despite that being the bare minimum, Chelsea’s heart breaks for all the children who don’t have the same. “[I have] everything I need, but I just don’t get why people abuse their children, that’s what I hate. And I hate the lack of the basics in the house like food and stuff. I hate that.”
Naturally good at English, Chelsea enjoys reading and writing, and in 2019 won a story-writing competition in her school. “I wrote about a poor family, their mommy was sick and they went out to clean streets to get money to give to the family. And they prayed, and then there was an angel that spoke to them and helped them.” Faith, miracles, and poverty are common themes in her writing. She observes the horrific circumstances that people in her community live in and prays for miracles for them; writing brings these dreams to a half-reality. Chelsea wants to be a teacher and a writer, she wants to raise awareness for the issues in her community and be part of the solution. “I want to become a teacher one day…because I want to encourage children to do better for the future and make their life easier, and I want them to be off the streets.”
Having a sensitive heart is a wonderful gift, and Chelsea is empathetic towards everyone in her community, but it can take a toll after years of negativity. She has been a victim of name-calling and rudeness for years, and that combined with constant peer pressure and violence in her neighborhood has started to wear down on her. “I hate the name-calling. I’ve been put down a lot of times. There have been a lot of people with a lot of hate for me, but I ignore that. God created me for a reason and God knew I was going to be here and my future and what’s coming. So I just remember that.” She focuses on dance, on netball, on literacy, on her friends and the facilitators at the Amy Foundation. “This foundation brings children in so they don’t go onto the streets, and encourages them so they can be better. And [they] take children so they can experience things and places they’ve never been to.” Those outings to the city are the highlights of the year for the children in the foundation, a brief escape from their realities, a chance to be carefree and curious and young.
To her peers and all of the children younger than her,Chelsea says, “try your best, read your Bible, focus on the future, don’t look down on other people, don’t judge.” She is studying at school to keep her future open to possibilities. “I would like to go to Canada, and the Netherlands.” She wants to travel all over the world, and she wants to live anywhere but Bonteheuwel when she grows up.
*Written by Indigo Knights in 2021, based on an interview with Chelsea.