Hondeklip Bay – The story of technology and positive change
This is a story worth reading and worth telling. In a way it is one of our biggest success stories but we cannot take full credit for the results. Let me give you some background.
Hondeklip Bay is a 534 km drive from Cape Town if you travel on the N7. This is easy driving most of the way. The fun however starts when your turn left off the N7. The rest of your journey will consist of an 80 km gravel road. Where this gravel road and the ocean meet, there you will find Hondeklip Bay. It is a fishing community with approximately 1300 inhabitants of which most are children. There is no fuel station or any big stores. There are two small stores that sell the basic commodities necessary for survival, and a butcher who prepares the best sausage in the Northern Cape. It has a real small town feel to it and is very peaceful, or so I thought.
Based on the proven success of our safety system in Port Nolloth, the Namakwa District Municipality contracted us to install a safety system in Hondeklip Bay. Our first meeting with the local fishermen was on the first of July 2014. We introduced the safety system to them, but the community was so divided that we were unable to complete the installation. We were told by one group of fishermen that if we allow another group of fishermen to use the system that they would sue us. We were threatened with all kinds of threats.
Our technical suppliers completed the installation of all the hardware, but due time constrains and the fighting among the fishermen, we were unable to complete the training. We returned on the third of August 2014 to complete the training and placed the fishermen before an ultimatum. We explained that our mandate from the municipality was the safety of fishermen at sea. They had one of two choices. They could either choose "Life" or "Death", choosing life meant that they would cooperate and take responsibility whereas choosing death meant leaving the training sessions. We had the attendance of 17 fishermen.
As with all change, the ultimatum became the catalyst for change. At the end of the week of training we arranged a feedback session where one of the older fishermen stood up and thanked us for the positive change that the safety system brought to the community. We have been back to Hondeklip Bay on numerous occasions in the past year and we are excited about what is happening in this little town. The change in the town is phenomenal. The fishermen have united around the safety system and taken responsibility for their own safety and that of their fellow fishermen. Two fishermen that were enemies when we first met are now fishing buddies on the same boat. One fisherman owns a fish finder and is the first to go to sea. Once he has located the fish he calls the system operator on the VHF radio to let him know he can guide the other fishermen to him.
Where once there was a divided community there is now a united community with safety at its core.