27 Jun 2018

Lavender Hill resident, Ellen Pakkies, is no stranger to the hardships life can throw at us. Cape Flats born and bred, she has experienced first-hand the poverty, sadness, violence, fear, suffering and drug abuse that ensues from living in this disadvantaged area. Her story of desperation, which is not unique, caught the world’s attention when she strangled her drug-addicted son after he’d repeatedly vandalised their home. While her story is being made into a movie for the big screen, it was when the TV crew spruced up her home with a lick of paint that an idea struck her.

Drug abuse in Ellen’s area is a serious problem and often leads to conflict, violence, theft, vandalism, empty cupboards and loveless homes. Ellen says, “It was awful returning home after one of my shifts, to find that our home was destroyed by my son. I asked for assistance from everyone, but no-one would help me. It is still a problem today. Nobody really wants to help, parents don’t care about the appearance of their homes, and the youth do whatever they want.” While her home received a makeover for the film entitled Ellen, Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies, looking around her, Ellen saw many women in a similar situation, in the depths of despair where homes had become loveless, empty shells, dreary with neglect.

Seeing how a renovation project could bring colour and hope to a home and families experiencing difficulties, she used the left-over paint from her house to give houses and other buildings in her area a fresh new coat. The idea sparked off a bigger project and Ellen says, “In this way we can also involve young people, who don’t always know where to look for work. It can help motivate them and help keep them out of trouble.” For mothers, Ellen believes it would help them to once again love the place they live in even though their kids rob them of everything else when they get caught in the web of drugs. “A little colour and clean house can have a huge impact on a heavy heart,” she says.

Ellen’s commitment to changing lives in the drug ravaged Cape Flats caught the attention of paint manufacturer, Plascon, who are now donating 4 000 litres of paint towards her cause. Applauding her passion, Plascon Decorative Business Unit Head, Katlego Kondlo says, “Ellen’s work is an endorsement of Plascon’s Designed for Life philosophy and clearly demonstrates the power that something as seemingly simple as paint and colour on a wall or piece of furniture, has the capacity to make life-altering changes. We are one hundred percent behind Ellen as she takes the initiative to enrich and enhance the lives of the people who live in her community.”

In addition to the paint donation, the Plascon Training Academy has also pledged to train 20 nominated unemployed youths in the community, in the application and preparation of Plascon Easy Living. They will receive a Plascon certificate, a starter kit to get them on their feet and ultimately a skill to use to improve their circumstances. Katlego concludes, “We are humbled by Ellen’s insight into how lives can be changed for the better and proud to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Giving the community the tools to improve their own circumstances certainly shows how a little colour can play a significant role in changing a life.”


Words: 520


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Mbali Mpofu, Account Executive, on behalf of Kansai Plascon

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