APN368491

R350.00R18,000.00

Nasreen Tatchell is a eighteen year old single mother of a three month old little girl Taylor. She and her daughter are two of eight people who live with her father in Cycis Road in Wentworth on the fence of the Engen Refinery in the South Durban Basin.

During 2004 and 2005 the Centre for Occupational and Environment Health at UKZN found that children and adults in south Durban were much more likely to suffer from asthma when the prevailing levels of pollutants were higher then normal.

Taylor is one of four in the household who are suffering from chest illness, Nasreen’s father is ill, he is the only one who is employed, her grandmother is bed ridden with a stroke also suffers with chest problems, Taylor and her cousin Cayden (4) are now the next generation who suffer from the “funny smells” from the petrochemical and paper industries in the area.

For more then ten years the local communities have been active in raising awareness and protesting around the quality of the air that they breath, like Nasreen the argument is the of correlation between the pungent smells and potentially dangerous gasses and chemicals of the local industry and the ailments that so many in the community suffer.

Nasreen Tachell says, “It’s bad, I am positive that it’s from the Engen Refinery, when I go to the father of my child in Olive Grove she does not cough so much”

Olive Grove is about one kilometre away from her fathers home and out of the prevailing winds of her place just across the fence from one of South Africa’s strategic industries that provides the fuel on which the oil dependent economy relies.

Nasreen’s grandmother lies bedridden after two strokes, she complains of nausea, “she has always complained, even before the stroke” says Nasreen. Her father struggles to provide for the extended family living under his roof, “he also struggles with asthma” this makes keeping a job difficult she says.

Nasreen now looks at her only child and she sees the same symptoms there, coughing, difficulty in breathing, the same issues are affecting the young generation as affected the old.

Will the symptoms also stunt the progress potential of the community causing illness to cause missing of school, the failure to gain the marks required to university entrance and a slide back into a life stunted of growth and potential…

The community of Wentworth, Bluff, Mearbank and Austerville have an above national average for chest and respiratory complaints all these communities are what are known as fence communities in that they border large chemical industrial complex. The question asked by those in the community is that what counts for more, peoples lives or profit, will there ever be a time when the little ones will sleep at night and not cough as they are still too young for a nebulisor.

What is more important then right for a child as little a a few months to breath fresh air? 18 MARCH 2011 AUSTERVILLE SOUTH AFRICA WORDS AND PHOTO/JOHN ROBINSON

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