Shecky and Jane – both from Zimbabwe – work alongside the Cape Town City Project’s team. Shecky is the house cook, while Jane takes care of the home and both hold incredibly special places in the hearts of all of those who have met them. Here is their story of how they came to work for African Impact and how they have made the volunteer house in Cape Town a home for all those who pass through it’s doors.
When you come to volunteer in Cape Town, the Lionhouse becomes your home and Shecky and Jane become your surrogate mum and dad (Trust me, whatever age you are!). The Zimbabwean couple have been married for 34 years and have four children and three grandsons. They live and work together constantly and for many couples this would be stressful, however Shecky and Jane are two of the happiest people you will meet. As they go about the house preparing meals for volunteers or organising laundry, they constantly chat and laugh with one and another.
Shecky first made the decision to come to Cape Town after problems in Zimbabwe led to a period of unemployment. The family had been surviving on Jane’s dress making business but electricity shortages made it impossible to work. Jane remembers days when she couldn’t even make one dress in a day as there was load shedding from 5am until 11pm.
Eight years ago it came to the point where they had to make a tough choice. While Jane stayed to care for their children, Shecky travelled to look for work. Shecky said it was better to stand up and move to South Africa than stay in a situation where they couldn’t pay rent or send their children to school.
Shecky first worked in a guest house in Rustenburg, in the North West Province but then a friend recommended he come to Cape Town where he joined the King of Kings church. The pastor introduced him to the organisation Living Hope, who he decided to volunteer with. He worked in Muizenburg, where he cooked for children living on the streets for four months as well as cooking for church group meetings. It was then that an opportunity from African Impact arose and Shecky gained a job cooking for groups staying at Team House.
In 2007, African Impact needed someone to take care of the volunteer house, which at that point was in Fish Hoek, and Shecky was invited to do the job along with his wife Jane. At this point the couple had been apart for over year – a situation which is unimaginable for anyone who knows the happy pair who live and work together so closely. Jane also talks sadly about how for the first five months, she hadn’t heard from Shecky and was left wondering if he was even alive.
Over the years, Shecky and Jane have seen African Impact develop and grow. They talked about how much they enjoy sharing
their days with people from different countries. Shecky likes learning from other people and says it has helped him a lot to guide him. He loves finding a way to connect with people from all different walks of life. Shecky has also been challenged with his cooking skills and he enjoys finding out about people’s different dietary needs and how he can adapt his meals for everyone.
The couple talk passionately about their family. Their two eldest children now live in South Africa. Miriam, their daughter is married with three sons and Martin their eldest son studied design and is now doing a marketing internship in Cape Town with Living Hope. The youngest children are looked after by Jane’s sister and are studying in Zimbabwe, Marvin is looking at university and Tracy their youngest daughter is finishing High School.
Jane still enjoys sewing and in his spare time Shecky councils and comforts people affected by HIV/AIDs and is also involved in the community with children who don’t have parents.
They are both so aware that volunteers often have travelled a long distance and Jane loves to welcome new volunteers and make them feel at home. Their pride in our volunteer house and the humble way in which they care for everyone who lives here, is what makes it a home. We are proud to call them our Lionhouse mother and father.
To find out more about our Cape Town volunteer projects, use the magnifying glass in the top right corner of the page.