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‘He makes so much out of so little’

Mdantsane’s Ben Rexana shows love for his community by mentoring dancers and teaching people how to care for their pets

Ben Rexana, left, feeds a neglected dog in Mdantsane with the help of one of his dance students.
Ben Rexana, left, feeds a neglected dog in Mdantsane with the help of one of his dance students.
Image: SUPPLIED

Dancers are helping feed stray dogs under the mentorship of Local Hero nominee Ben Rexana, 35, from Mdantsane NU9.

Since 2020, Rexana has enlisted the help of his CyfaDance NPC teens to teach and educate their community on how to take care of beloved pets. 

The 2018 Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson Local Hero finalist — who was honoured for the NPC which offers children in his community dance lessons to keep them off the streets — has continued to nurture their love of animals and pay it forward.

Rexana said, “I teach the kids about proper care.

“Every day we feed about 20 dogs and donate food to people who love animals but can’t afford food for them. We don’t want them to suffer.” 

The two streams of community outreach merged to become the CyfaDance K9-Care Community Development programme.

Ben Rexana, 35, from Mdantsane feeds stray dogs as part of his CyfaDance K-9 Care community development NPC.
Ben Rexana, 35, from Mdantsane feeds stray dogs as part of his CyfaDance K-9 Care community development NPC.
Image: SUPPLIED

Rexana, who owns six dogs, uses a wheelbarrow every day to transport bags of dog food and supplies to the pups in need and relies on donations from individuals and organisations such as Wings of Love, Helping Those in Need and  Mike Webb, also known as The Pink Fairy.

“A lot of people don’t know how to treat their animals,” he said.

“No-one taught me, I had to learn about things like deworming as an adult.

“No-one teaches these things in the township.

“It’s tough working with owners sometimes. They have their own beliefs.

“They think mange can be treated with car oil, but all that does is burn the animal.

“So when I give their dog medicine and they heal, only then do they trust me.” 

He said he was grateful for the help he receives and implored those wanting to get involved to donate supplies.

“People can also help by donating medication for mange, biliary and worms, spare blankets or kennels because it’s winter.

When I see a dog in pain I cant just walk away, I have to help

“This is a passion I have. When I feel down or feel like quitting, I post a message on my Facebook group, and donors’ comments motivate me. When I see a dog in pain I cant just walk away, I have to help.” 

Rexana said another challenge was transport. Without it he and his dancers would have to walk with a wheelbarrow to every house.

“We used to have a bicycle with a trailer, but it was involved in an accident, so now we only have the wheelbarrow. We are not able to go very far, but we keep going.” 

Rexana is chaperoning 17 dancers from CyfaDance who are busking at the Village Green as part of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda. 

“Even though I am here in Grahamstown [Makhanda], there are still two dancers who are sending me pictures every day of them feeding the dogs when I’m not there.”

Ben Rexana, a former Local Hero finalist, has started a new project called K9 Care. Riding around Mdantsane on his bicycle and trailer or pushing a wheelbarrow of dog food along the streets, Rexana feeds and cares for neglected dogs in his area.
Ben Rexana, a former Local Hero finalist, has started a new project called K9 Care. Riding around Mdantsane on his bicycle and trailer or pushing a wheelbarrow of dog food along the streets, Rexana feeds and cares for neglected dogs in his area.
Image: SUPPLIED

Nominator Mary White, 64, from Nahoon, praised Rexana for his unwavering spirit.

White said: “The work he does is phenomenal.

“I feel that an individual who takes on what he does, giving parental guidance to 34 children and involving them in helping animals, is filling a huge gap.

“It’s all part of what he is providing, to look after and care for animals and be completely dependent on donations. He just keeps going.

“His commitment to caring for his community — he doesn’t give up.

“He makes so much out of so little.”

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