working for the unemployed

Hope still springs in this garden

Errol_and_Patrick_2On her rounds through the community, Amina chanced about the most beautiful garden. Working there, as volunteers were Patrick “Tamatie” Wentzel and Errol van Wyk, both unemployed. Amina signed them up to Link of Love and then found out more about this magic garden in the middle of an area of Hanover Park known for its extreme poverty and gang violence…..

Meet Ridwaan Holtman. While in jail, Ridwaan awoke from a dream in which he saw two large palm trees. Back home, unemployed, he looked out of his window one day and saw just that : two Chinese palms growing in the middle of an open lot covered in rubble and litter. He remembered and he set to work. Together with Patrick , he dug a huge hole, deeper than a swimming pool. And buried all the rubble! And then he began creating a garden. Slips, donations, gifts from his Parks and Forests friends : he made it happen plant by plant.

On Christmas Day, 2009, Ridwaan was involved in a horrific accident in Hout Bay. He was thrown through the windscreen of his bakkie, hit a palm tree and was left paralysed from the chest down.

Today, Ridwaan is bedridden, stuck on the 2nd floor of a council flat in Hanover Park. But the garden continues, thanks to the efforts of Patrick and Errol. Ridwaan tries to get someone to put him in a wheelchair and take him there every day, but it is not always possible, as he has to be carried in his chair down dangerous, open stairs. Does he still have dreams? Of course!

Shireen Hou holds an orchid donated by DreamWorker to bedridden Ridwaan Holtman“I would love to live the ground floor, so that I can be more mobile. My sister, is looking after me but she is having a baby in February and I need someone to care for me every day. She just can’t lift me every 3 hours and if she doesn’t, I get horrible bed sores. I also want to help more children learn about nature and plants.

But this is my big dream…… to really make this garden fantastic, to have real pathways through the garden so people in wheelchairs, like me, can get around, to have a pond and water feature covered with a canopy, so we can sit and watch the fish. And a fancy fence, made of chains”

Humbling indeed, to those of us who have strong, healthy bodies but have possibly lost the courage to follow our dreams!