Jobless youths volunteer to spruce up village

2013-03-11 00:00

FED up with uMngeni Municipality’s poor maintenance of their blocked stormwater drains, a group of unemployed residents in Lidgetton Valley near Howick decided to fix the problem themselves.

It all started in December last year when five unemployed youths decided to clear the stormwater drains because taxi drivers refused to enter their village whenever heavy rains and blocked drains combined to flood the roads.

Nontobeko Mkhize, Thulani Dlamini, Londeka Duma, Felix Zuma and Sipho Zungu did not stop there: they also started cleaning the neighbourhood.

“We had been phoning the municipality to help clear the blocked drains for a while, to no avail. When we realised that we were not getting help, we started clearing it for ourselves,” said Zuma, a member of the Lidgetton Volunteers.

He added: “Since we are unemployed, we needed positive ideas to keep us busy away from crime and drug abuse, which is affecting a lot of young people.”

Zuma said the volunteers were also educating the community on the need to cut grass for use as compost.

“We have to keep our village clean because it is a tourist destination and if kept neat, tourists will keep coming and perhaps it might lead to one of them investing here, which will in turn create jobs,” said Zuma.

Volunteer Sipho Zungu said they received help from John Hall, a local guesthouse owner who organised the paint and tools they used to beautify their area.

Zungu said they wanted to send a message to the youth that being unemployed shouldn’t mean they couldn’t be useful in their neighbourhoods.

The volunteers have painted a subway and intend to plant flowers at the entrance to their village.

“We just need the municipality to help us with uniforms and tools to do the work,” said Zungu.

Hall, who owns Pleasant Places guesthouse, said the volunteers approached him in January.

“I thought they wanted work, but nevertheless I listened to them and they told me that they wanted me to be part of their cleaning project by helping them,” said Hall.

He said he became inspired because they told him that the village belonged to all of them.

“It was not about us and them, but it was about the entire community benefiting from what these young people had started,” he said.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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