V&A Joy from Africa

Unexpected Opportunities

Despite having five children of their own, Colleen and Andre De Rose have opened up their home to the Bonteheuwel community, giving other people’s children a safe space to come to after school. Their NPO, Unexpected Opportunities, started as a way of feeding those in need over Christmas time. “We wouldn’t have our own Christmas feast; we would come together as a family and make food for the homeless,” Colleen explains of their humble beginnings.

This turned into feeding more people, weekly, making 100-litre pots of food at a time, which then evolved into holiday programmes for more than 250 children, and excursions to Cape Town’s museums. Now, Unexpected Opportunities’ after-school programme, which takes place in Colleen and Andre’s front and back yard (even on weekends), with a group of 15 young volunteer facilitators, gives local working parents the peace of mind that their children are being helped with their homework and stimulated with fun activities.

Some days they accommodate up to 45 children for free after-school care. “The parents of the children who come to us know that their kids are safe and are being kept busy, so they can do what they need to do to make a living,” says Colleen.

“We don’t have a lot of funds, but we do whatever needs to be done as a team,” says Colleen, who one day hopes to start an academy in the community, offering more opportunities to the youth. “People in Bonteheuwel have so much potential but they don’t have a purpose,” she says. “I want to give them the chance to think outside of Bonteheuwel.”

Sergio Fisher, a freelance graphic designer who volunteers at the NPO, has been made its head of media due to his passion for helping create the organisation’s logo, posters for fundraising events and social-media posts. “It’s given me so much experience, working with young people in the community and training them in photography, videography and design,” he says of his supportive role. “Unexpected Opportunities isn’t just about feeding people – it’s about showing everyone, from the elderly to small children, that they are important.” 
 


Amy-Lee Smith agrees. She started participating with Unexpected Opportunities two years ago. Through her engagement, she received a sewing machine and over-locker to pursue her interest in fashion design. “I started small, making masks, headbands and summer dresses, and fixing clothing for people,” she says. “My goal is to start my own business in the near future.”

The donation of equipment happened after Unexpected Opportunities secured Amy-Lee an interview in Die Son and readers found ways to support her dream. Next year, she hopes to study at CPUT.

“People have a fear of lack, and can’t confide in others when they need things. But if you come to us with your problems, it doesn’t go out the door,” says Colleen. “People can trust us – we’ve got their back when they think that no one is there for them.”
 

GET INVOLVED

YOU can contribute to this compassionate community initiative by donating food ingredients, stationery supplies, books or clothing, or by volunteering your time. Email Colleen on unexpectedopportunities1@gmail.com 

Unexpected Opportunities Facebook

Art created by

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss another update from the V&A Waterfront.