Author: Karen (Sam) Davis – Chairman

DavisIt was with much sadness and open indignation that we watched the report on Lilly Rose Community.

The lies and very one-sided reporting is not something one would expect from a reputable program such as this. It has certainly left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth and I will, in future, if I ever watch the program again, be a lot more skeptical about the content aired.

However, as a CBO who have supported Lilly Rose, raised funds and donations for their cause, I feel it necessary to speak out to the facts as we know them and to assure people that we will at this stage, continue to support and collect donations for them. We have now met with Charmaine, who openly and candidly gave us the situation and all the details. She admits to not running the financials properly but if this has bought nothing else, it has ensured that this will NOT be the case going forward. She has appointed an accountant who is in the process of putting everything in order and once these are completed and in the spirit of cooperation, we will be given access to these.

Lilly Rose Farm Community is not under ROTO, nor have they ever been. The decision to apply for an NPO number for Lilly Rose will be made under the guidance of her attorney and accountant.

Charmaine has purchased land with her own money as bequeathed to her by her late Mother and this she has done in her personal capacity to ensure that the senior citizens of Lilly Rose Farm Community, will always have a home and a safe space. The move to the new farm will hopefully start early in the new year and as soon as transfer is effected, the sanitation and ablution will be the first priority before the move can commence.

As GTAF, we are confident with the guidance of the attorney and accountant, everything will be above reproach going forward and we will continue to support Lilly Rose Farm Community.

We are also assured and confident that the report was biased and one-sided and that there is nothing untoward happening at Lilly Rose.

We met Charmaine about 2 years ago on a visit to the farm. We were overcome with respect for these folk who with very little, have achieved so much. It was then that we said we would like to support them and get involved. One of the very first questions we asked was about the NPO financials. At that time, Charmaine admitted that she had not kept any real ‘books’ under her ROTO NPO. It was decided and agreed that any funds that were raised and donated to Lilly Rose, would be deposited into GTAF’s bank account for total transparency and we would then use the funds as where they were needed.

It was also decided that Lilly Rose would not run under the NPO but rather under Charmaine herself, who has purchased land for the Community to move to in her personal capacity.

The very first donation was from Glitter, who made Lilly Rose their September project and they raised R10 000 for Lilly Rose. This was used to have the hot water donkeys built and the fittings that they would need to be able to have a hot shower. We paid the suppliers who manufactured these directly from our bank account. Some left-over funds were used to buy 1l flasks for the elderly to be able to have hot water at night for coffee, tea etc.

The majority of our input has been to be the collection point for the donations such as clothing, bedding, kitchens appliances and anything else people wanted to donate. Weekly, the guys from Lilly Rose would come and collect. We have fielded many questions about the Community which we have done freely and honestly. Because of the amount of goods donated, we suggested to Charmaine that she should take the things that they have no need for and have a 2nd hand shop to sell this to raise the funds for what will be needed for the new farm. To the best of my knowledge, she has done this and has in many instances, even donated it to the other communities around them.

We have even been approached by other NPO’s and organisations needing to find somewhere for the homeless among us to go to and every time I contacted Charmaine, if she could she would take them.

Many had no SASSA grant but that did not stop her from taking them in and giving them a roof over their heads, food to eat and safety. In fact, of the +-100 residents on the farm, only between 50 – 60 actually pay and then they don’t always pay the full amount.

Every week, I have been struck by people with good hearts and giving natures who want to help the less fortunate but not anyone I have met, has the heart and intention that Charmaine has.

She has always been upfront and truthful about how she charges people that can afford it and what they get for the money they pay her.

When Charmaine’s Mom passed away, Charmaine was left some money and could buy about 8Ha of land close to Atlantis with the view and intention to move the Community to their own land, where they would not be under threat from neighbouring camps and settlements. Her vision is to create an Eco Village, with proper sanitation for the mostly elderly folk who have nowhere else to go. They cannot afford to go into old age homes and obviously their families are not able to take them in, for whatever reason. I asked Charmaine one day why she does not move to the new farm in the interim and she said that her daughter and son-in law are there to ensure that no squatters arrive there and she will stay with her Community. She does not live in luxury, nor does she have luxuries that the people who live there don’t.

There are many who live at Lilly Rose Community who do not have the means to contribute financially and many of these people work for the Community and assist where necessary in lieu of board and lodging. I see nothing wrong with this arrangement as the elderly are unable to do heavy labour and many need assistance to get to the bathrooms etc.

I have been to the farm a few times and leave there every time feeling humbled and at peace to see a community of people, from different walks of life, living together in harmony. Yes, they do have their internal battles but just as any normal household that has their squabbles, they have each other and each other’s backs.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invite to all that have their doubts, questions or concerns, to please go and pay Lilly Rose Community a visit. Go and see what they have, speak to the people that live there and try and help them with whatever you can.