Passion drives cleaning initiative

2019-04-16 13:57
Help Up, a group of committed individuals conducted a river clean up in Observatory recently.

Help Up, a group of committed individuals conducted a river clean up in Observatory recently.

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Help Up, a group of committed individuals is doing everything they can to ensure that the environment and their surroundings are kept clean.

This is not a non-profit organisation nor is it a registered business, it is made up of people that love the environment and team up to do their bit in keeping the environment clean.

Started by Georgia McTaggart last year in September, the idea was to not only keep the environment clean but also to help the homeless within her area. She was volunteering a lot when she was still in Masiphumelele and when she moved to Observatory she wanted to get involved in the area, and to get to know and engage with the people.

Fresh in the area, she noticed two problems, that is the mess in the Black River and that very little was going on to help the homeless. She started cleaning the river and getting to know the homeless in her area. As cliché as it might sound, many hands make light work and she decided to involve the homeless people to help her clean up. And that lead to the birth of Help Up.“I started working from my pocket. I would gather the homeless people then we go clean the river. I would pay them and give them something to eat. It worked but I knew it wasn’t going to work for a long time, so I had to think of other ways of making this work,” she says.

McTaggart thought of getting people to pledge for someone to clean a certain area on their behalf while they do other things. To pledge a Help Up Avatar to clean the environment for two hours in your name costs R50.“So, what happens is when someone wants to do their bit in helping the environment, but they physically be their to clean up. They can pledge for an Avatar (homeless) to clean. If they want someone to clean for three hours. They will pay for that and I pick from the group who will clean,” she says.

She admits it has been working well and she had to trim the group to the ones who are the most dedicated. They have cleaned the Black River about nine times. 

The Black River is a tributary of the Salt River together with the Liesbeeck River and the Elsieskraal River. It flows underground beneath Main Road and the railway line, before continuing as a canal through Claremont and Rondebosch, then uncanalised through Mowbray, Observatory and Maitland after which it joins the Salt River.

“When we started to clean that river, it was difficult. The smell was bad. There was a net, it was a good idea, but the bad thing was it was never cleaned affecting the flow of the river. With each clean up it got better,” she says

She says in that river you find all sorts of all the dirty things from nappies, dead animals, bottles and plastics. Since their first clean-up they have collected rubbish that filled 1248 refuse bags.“I’m glad that I found passionate people that love the environment. So every Saturday we are busy cleaning the river and other areas. We also help clean you bins for residents as well. So we want to keep everything clean,” she says. 

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