PROJECT GATEWAY'S HISTORY
Project Gateway was established in 1992 as a social outreach of the churches in Pietermaritzburg, aimed at meeting the needs of the poor and empowering the disadvantaged. The process was driven by an understanding of the values of the Kingdom of God, recognising that Church must go hand in hand with the development of people and communities.
In 1992, having been given The Old Prison site in Pietermaritzburg, Project Gateway was born through a founding document signed by twenty one local, multi-denominational and multi-cultural churches. The organisation was established to serve the wider Church consisting of different congregations (both within Pietermaritzburg and beyond).
Political unrest within South Africa was high during the 1980s and particularly feverish in Natal. In rural areas such as Vulindlela, many were forced to flee their homes and take up residence closer to town in areas such as Caluza and Edendale. Crime levels and violence escalated as a result. In late March 1990, the tension that had been building over several years erupted into full scale war.
On the morning of Tuesday March 27, a 3000 strong Impi from Mpumuza in Vulindlela, descended on Caluza Township, driving the residents out before them. For unexplained reasons the war suddenly ended seven days later as Sunday 1 April dawned. Over a decade later, however, the Edendale Valley still feels the effects of what has become known as the Seven Days War. Driving along the main road through the Valley whole areas still remain uninhabited, the burnt out shells of houses evident above the weeds. For most children school was interrupted for a year, and many never went back. Whole communities were displaced. During the war close to 20,000 refugees, many of whom had lost everything, had fled to safe areas where the South African Defence Force set up tented camps, later to become informal settlements. It is within this context that Project Gateway was established, to provide help and hope to the poor and vulnerable.
Project Gateway's work has historically focused on empowering the disempowered. From the outset, emphasis was placed on care projects which provided relief from suffering and immediate, short-term assistance. This was a response predominately shaped by the demands of a society ravaged by poverty and disempowerment.
Continuously redefined by the changing needs of society our work has progressed from meeting basic needs (i.e. food, shelter, clothing) to the development and enablement of people to stand on their own. Through our work we want to positively influence people's perceptions of their own self worth and abilities and encourage them to become agents of change.
Within the context of people-centred development, Project Gateway has the following core values:
- The Church as an agent for change
- Human dignity