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Kya Sands: Children's education & health at risk

Community members are worried about their children after a massive shack fire last week.

Fire rages through the Kya Sands informal settlement. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Desperate parents say they are worried about their children's health and education after two massive blazes ripped through the Kya Sands informal settlement, leaving hundreds of people homeless and more than 1,200 shacks destroyed.

More than 800 families were left destitute when a fire ripped through the settlement on Thursday.

A smaller fire on Friday night left more families without homes, seeking aid and shelter.

The Gauteng Health and Education Departments are expected to visit the area this week, to help those affected by the fires.

Residents say the effects of this week's fires have been crippling.

Many families sought shelter at a local church where relief packages are being allocated to them.

One Kya Sands resident says her seven-year-old daughter lost her prescription glasses when the fire destroyed their home.

"I need someone to help me buy new glasses for my daughter because she can't see. How will she go to school if she can't see? How will she write?"

The girl has a chronic eye condition but her mother says she cannot afford to buy a new pair.

"Doctors say I need to pay R2,900 for a new pair. I have nothing."

In the meantime the little girl will have to go to school with ailing vision and no school uniform.

As relief efforts continue in the informal settlement, some residents say they feel ignored.

Building materials are being delivered to the area today, to help affected locals rebuild their homes.

Many community members spent the weekend rebuilding their shacks using whatever scrap materials they could find.

Donations have been pouring in amid calls for more assistance.

However, not everyone is getting help.

Some people say they've been denied aid and food supplies.

One woman says her family is still waiting for assistance.

"We don't have anything. They didn't even provide us with the school uniforms. They only provide some people who are staying far away from the grounds."

Community leaders have urged residents to be patient as authorities try to make sure the correct families are getting relief packages.

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