Cleaning the streets for a cause

2018-10-04 06:00
Left: A large group of participants cleaned the streets of Lwandle, Nomzamo and Zola for Spring Day.

Left: A large group of participants cleaned the streets of Lwandle, Nomzamo and Zola for Spring Day.

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What started as an opportunity to dedicate 67 minutes to charity for Mandela Day has grown into a full-blown project to clean the streets of Lwandle, Zola and Nomzamo.

And while cleaning the township streets is the main objective of the project, it has also become a means of breaking down metaphorical barriers and building bridges as well as restoring a sense of community pride.

Parishioners of two local churches have joined forces with other community organisations to drive and carry out the project, which is the brainchild of Sisa Thanda, a resident of Somerset West. Since the establishment of the project for Mandela Day in July, a Spring Day event was been held last month and another two clean-ups are planned for October and December.

According to Glen Bodington, pastor of Liberty Church – part of New Generation Church – in Somerset West Business Park, the initiative came to fruition after Thanda, who is also a member of the church, shared his dream of cleaning up the streets of the townships. “After establishing that his dream didn’t hold a metaphoric meaning, I realised that our church has the numbers to take to the streets for the clean-up,” Bodington explained.

“The church also has a connection with Anointed Christian Church in Asanda Village, so we approached Lizo Makasi and we got the ball rolling.”

Makasi, the pastor of Anointed Christian Church, immediately bought into the project and involved local organisations in the greater Lwandle area, such as Eye of the City and the local South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) branch. “The project entails more than just cleaning up the streets; it is also drives unity among people from different communities,” he related.

“Seeing people from different backgrounds working together to achieve a common goal is really something beautiful to behold. The project is also breaking down the many barriers which are holding South Africans back from moving forward.”

Both Bodington and Makasi agreed that the project was not only well received by participants of the clean-ups, but also by the community they served in the process. “During the operations members of the community, especially young children, just joined in the clean-up,” Bodington said.

And after the job was done, Makasi said he was approached by others who wanted to know why they hadn’t been informed of the project as they wanted to be involved in it. “It truly has been met with so much positivity from the community and has proven that we can work together to bring on change,” he said.

“It is also a means of education for everyone – while some are learning about the importance of not littering and recycling, others who have never visited the townships are learning to get to know people from there and what is on offer in the areas.”

This sentiment was echoed by Bodington: “This project has really dismantled the preconceptions of what a township is for many of our church members and is breaking down racial tensions for our people to love and serve their neighbours.”

More than 50 people, divided in groups to tackle the cleaning of various townships streets, have participated in the two clean-ups which have been held. The next event is planned for Saturday 20 October and another for Saturday 1 December.

In a bid to grow the number of participants, people from all communities in the Helderberg are invited to get their hands dirty for this worthy cause. “While we certainly require donations of gloves, black bags, flowers, plants and trees, we more importantly need more people to get involved in the project,” Bodington said.

“The clean-up operations are only two hours long – from 09:00 to 11:00 – and the group meets at Liberty Church at 08:45. The invitation is open to everyone.”

Anyone interested in donating goods or their time can contact Glen on 082 823 1108 or liberty@newgen.co.za, Ian on 083 446 6728 or ian@newgen.co.za, or Lizo on 082 074 7750 or lizo.makasi6@gmail.com.

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