Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape, which first got a tarred road in 1972, was recently with the help of the kykNET programme, Lottoland helps a town, and several other local role players revamped to breathe life back into the lifeless town.
kykNET viewers are already familiar with Thank you, Lottolandand it was because of the good viewership of this series, in which people were seen joining hands to make a big difference in their small communities, that Lottoland helps a town arose.
Leah, the blonde presenter of the show, has for Lottoland helps a town from Cradock to Clanwilliam, from Beaufort West to Philippolis in the Free State, and traveled to nine other small towns.
Small Hofmeyr was erased. This town is located about 64 km from Cradock and is also the first of 13 towns that with the help of Lottoland helps a town has been renovated.
“Hofmeyr is the meeting place of five routes,” said Teresa Opperman, project manager at Hugs of Hope on Hofmeyr, in the pilot episode of the program on kykNET on Wednesday evening.
Hugs of Hope has R240 000 from Lottoland helps a town received to help realize this dream.
Teresa founded this organization to keep beggars off the streets and instead provide training in something they can do. The organization offers various training courses these days.
The project is run from the hall of the iconic pink church, which was built in 1933 and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since.
“The town has basically been a passage all these years. There are seven cross streets and a bunch of up streets with about 30 families living in the town,” Teresa explained to Leah.
There are a total of about 80 souls in the town. During the last census survey, there were around 3,800 people in and around Hofmeyr, but Teresa soon pointed out that things look completely different during the festival period and that the village then teems with people.
“Most of the residents work in the cities, but at Christmas time they return home,” she said.
According to Maryke Hayward, head of marketing of Lottoland SA, is Lottoland helps a town started to support people in small towns and make an even bigger difference in South African communities.
“We give them the money they asked for and they only get four weeks to complete the task.”
Renovating the town’s rubbish-strewn entrance as well as cleaning the rest of the town and applying a new coat of paint every now and then was Teresa and her team’s first priority.
Teresa explained that they intended to push the debris into the gravel pit, level it, and then cover it with hardy plants. Also that the fence around the gravel pit had to be repaired.
They would send their heavy machines to the town “free of charge” for two weeks to come and help. The community has also indicated that they will help with the planting material.
A welcome message was ingeniously spelled out with stone on the ground: “Wamkeliki. Welcome to Hofmeyr” it says. Next to it is a giant flower with leaves bordered by stones.
Learners from the Schoombee Primary eagerly helped with the planting work. In addition to the gardens outside and inside the town (some of the residents also started gardening frantically!) seven murals now liven up the town. The library and a few houses also got a new coat of paint and where lime was needed, it was whitewashed, and the town’s trash cans were painted bright.
When the town got a tar road in 1972, the residents’ eyes began to shine with the belief that the future was knocking on their door, but it was precisely the tar road that put the town’s future in jeopardy.
The residents drove up the tarmac to the bigger towns, went to see other doctors and sent their children to bigger schools.
“Slowly but surely our town began to bleed to death. Businesses had to close, doctors had to close. The pharmacy has closed. Banks closed. The last bank finally closed its doors in 2000,” Teresa said.
According to Teresa, they applied for funding Lottoland helps a town applied because the farmers are already doing a lot on their part to transform the town’s rubbish-strewn entrance into a proper entrance.
“The farmers’ association, the VLV, the horticulture club, Hugs of Hope, the NG church – they all said they were willing to help,” she said.
Six of the murals that brighten up dull walls share the same theme: Cherish our children. And an artist involved with Hugs of Hope provided the artwork on the welcome sign at the entrance off the main trail.
“There is so much to see. I don’t know where to look,” Leah later confessed.
“But this is Hofmeyr. This is Hofmeyr’s community.”
Lottoland helps a town kicked off on 11 October at 21:00 on kykNET (DStv channel 144). It can also be streamed on DStv Stream.