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To increase sustainable plastic solutions, University of Johannesburg has joined the South African Plastics Pact.
Wits University moves leans towards the greener side with better waste usage and management. (more…)
Ouma Majola is bringing social change to the community of Kliptown through her community centre Little Rose. Not only does the centre care for children, but it also provides them with aftercare educational lessons.
Sibongile is dressed in her Sunday best, wearing a red and white polka dot dress to welcome the buzz in the big city.
The Shosholoza Meyl is moving fast, in a race with the ambitions of this young mother when she arrives in Johannesburg. The train journey between the two South African cities takes 14 hours before reaching its terminus at the train station.
“All passengers get ready to disembark the train …please do not forget your tickets before approaching the counter at reception for your luggage! “,…shouts the intercom 15 minutes before arrival.
Sibongile’s stay in Johannesburg first began in Soweto at Zola Township with a friend. After meeting her boyfriend in 2007 she moved to Kliptown in the hope of finding her independence.
Kliptown is an iconic area in Soweto that represents the setting of democracy and the signing of the Freedom Charter in 1955.
This sought to provide an alternative vision to the policies of the apartheid government but 23 years after democratic elections there is no sign of it.
Little Rose community centre is built at the centre of the “government forsaken” state of Kliptown.
Made from brightly painted plastic containers, it stands in contrast to the rusty metal shacks that overpopulate Kliptown. Little Rose functions as a shelter and day-care for the homeless.
It also offers afternoon classes focusing on computer skills and literacy along with three meals a day to those in need.
A single mum, abuse, neglect and the road to Little Rose
Sibongile arrived in Kliptown and found a shack. “At first the shack was in bad condition where from my bed the rooftop had a hole you could see the sun from during the day and the moon in the evening.”
To make a living Sibongile started washing people’s laundry and says, “A year after dating my boyfriend we had our first child together, Thabiso (9), we no longer had to fend for ourselves but had another human to support, worse of all I still had to send money home for Lusanda (13) because his father left us back in KZN.”
Sibongile says her boyfriend started selling drugs and became involved in crime in an effort to make a living. “Money would come in; we had enough to sustain us”.
With every rand they made her boyfriend soon started abusive habits. “From Thursday to Sunday he was out drinking and those were the days he would come home drunk and start beating me up. I forgave him often and held onto the initial character I had of him but the reality of who he was and his lifestyle caught up with me”.
Sibongile recalls the first morning after a night out where her boyfriend came home. “Around 3am we were sleeping when we got woken up by a knock. I went to open the door only to welcome in police. They came to arrest him after a girl he slept with had laid a charge of rape. The girl was from the area. I knew her and had heard of their relationship”.
Sibongile’s boyfriend got arrested for three months before the case was dropped. Nine months after his release, Sibongile’s boyfriend was again arrested for another rape charge. Bekundzima (it was difficult) I also was pregnant with my third born I would go visit him and bring him food and airtime Ndimenza umntu (humanising an inhumane situation), trying to assure him that he had a family that loved him.
I had to get lawyers and at this stage we had no money so I had to make a living”. “I too started selling weed and later got access to crystal meth, mandrax and cocaine. I made enough money to get him bail. You know in Kliptown after usuyile eNyangeni (After going to see a traditional healer) and you have money.
You can get arrested for anything but you will never go to prison, his case soon fell through and he was free”. Sibongile says after her boyfriend’s release from prison, he went back to crime.
“Before giving birth to my third born I decided to leave him. I started to fend for myself and my children. Life was hard you know…but I stopped selling drugs and looked for jobs and did peoples hair.”
The better life for all Sibongile hoped for seemed far from reality. But she was determined to change this narrative from being an inheritance to her children.
Sibongile found Little Rose and started to volunteer. “I sent Thabiso (9) the middle born home to KZN and remained with Siphelele (3) who still goes to Little Rose. The centre offers him a different path of life. He gets so excited to attend and enjoys learning. A lot of the kids in the area are susceptible to crime and gambling.”
Sibongile says the centre offers children in the area a different perspective and tries to meet parents half way. “You have to pay for the day care, but if you can’t afford they allow you to work there as a volunteer in exchange for them to allow your kid to come”.
Ouma Majola (56) is the founder of Little Rose which was established in 1993. Her life growing up inspired the community haven.
Ouma says, “When I was 13 years old. My parents died. I ended up living from one home to the next but fortunately my brother in law was working and got me through school.
Things were different after my parents died…you know the absence of parents even in my case where I was taken care of was still an unpleasant experience. I decided to drop out of school in grade 9 and went to work.”
Ouma describes growing up as a metaphor for the Little Rose centre. “My mother loved kids and giving back to the community so even with me it came naturally and I didn’t want to witness any other orphan or abandoned child going through what I did.
“Over weekends we had community outreaches, in 1993 at a community meeting, I made a proposal for us to start food gardening because the people of Kliptown were hungry and there was land to plant in, this marked the beginning of Little Rose,” she says.
Ouma says she soon attracted support from developed businesses. The single shack was turned into a double deck of colourful containers covered with freehand art from the kids at the centre. The centre has running water, flushing toilets and a playground, which in dry and grey Kliptown provided a literal and symbolic metaphor to the life known by the community.
“We later got computer donations, international sponsors and Sage publication donated a library to us, marking the expansion and full operation of Little Rose,” Ouma says.
A single father’s experience with Little Rose
Little Rose has become a haven to many parents and children in the area.
Julious Zungo (43) is a single father to three-year-old Asanda. “My daughter’s mother left us when she was about 3 months old. Ndim’UMama noTata wakhe (I am her mom and dad). I work here (pointing at the spaza where we met) so when I am working Asanda goes to Little Rose’s day care.
They teach her how to read and write. She comes home and we start discussing what was taught at school”.
Zungo says her daughter talks of future career prospects because of the exposure she got from Little Rose.
Ouma took her in at the age of 8 after her mother passed on. Bongiwe describes gambling alcoholism and drug abuse as being prominent in Kliptown.
“The work we do in the center takes the focus of the youth away from those activities, she says”.
A survey 2006 prepared for the JDA by Martin Wessels an Independent Consultant with the community members of Kliptown indicated that between 1995 and 2005 crime rates had increased by 75%.
With arrests of community members for possession of drugs, rape and robbery being the most prominent of incidents.
Wessels survey also reflected that 62% of community members in Kliptown felt that living conditions had become worse. Whilst 82% said there had been no recreational improvement in Kliptown.
Ouma’s legacy lives
Nhlanhla Majola (31), Ouma’s only biological son, who after a habit of using drugs in standard four, is now a tour guide and mentor for the children in Kliptown.
“If you have no vision or ideas, Kliptown can be like a bottle for you. Where you feel lifeless and with little options”. Nhlanhla says the center “saved him from himself” and gave him a sense of purpose.
“When I was in standard four in Lansfield primary, Eldarado Park, I started hanging with the wrong crowd. I ended up doing; weed cigarettes and cocaine.
To remove me from that environment, in grade eight my mom sent me to a Muslim boarding school. Jules High in Jeppe. High school was a frustrating time for me because I would stay in boarding school and often visit home during holidays and the differences in living conditions and upset me”. After finishing grade 11 in 2007 Nhlanhla quit school and went back home.
“A year later I made my then girlfriend pregnant this one event changed the course of my life. I had to get it together and make means end for my child. I started going to the Mosque in Kliptown and fell in love with the Muslim religion it really impacted me well”, Nhlanhla said.
“As a tour guide I enjoyed the process of showing local and international tourists the history and experiences in Kliptown. It also gave me an opportunity to expose my community to people we hope would come as visitors but leave as family, adding value to our lives”.
Nhlanhla says he hopes to open his own tourism company and wants to mentor the young men and women in Kliptown to use the little resources they have to ‘’preserve the history and make attainable achievements that will bring wealth and communal success to the people of Kliptown”.
The efforts that came from the experience of an orphan are generations ahead of the Government that lays claim to the Freedom Charter.
In realising a “better life” in Kliptown, Little Rose is viewed by the local community as giving a sense of hope to parents, youth and children, changing the predetermined course of life for the younger generation and serving as an act of defiance to the status quo of the area.
FEATURED IMAGE: Founder of Little Rose, Ouma Majola. Photo: Zamayirha Peter.
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits GirlRising helps orphanage – Wits Vuvuzela, August 2017
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits students lend a helping hand to Hillbrow orphanage – Wits Vuvuzela, September 2016
Joburgers are serious about going green, it’s not just the latest fad. It’s an alternative hipster lifestyle that separates the the cool peeps from the (global) warmers. It’s safe to say Joburg is not just a pretty city, its an environmentally sensitive zone. And green is definitely the new black in the city of gold. Its going greener everyday and most of the city’s inhabitants embracing global cooling in very cool ways.
Many cool peeps in Jozi wear vintage or second hand clothing. Thrift markets are popping up everywhere and Joburgers love them because they are affordable and trendy. Thrifting allows styles to be shared and limits to be broken. At such affordable prices, why not.
Shopping the green way
Shopping malls are getting greener and greener, one such space is 27Boxes. This mall is made of shipping containers, it has an edgy and sleek look that will make any shopper happy to spend money there.
Snazzy shopping bags
Reusable shopping bags can be seen hanging off the shoulders of the trendiest peeps in Joburg, from celebrities to ordinary Witsies. These bags are fashionable and eco friendly- made from recycled materials.
All naturelle body care
Earth friendly body products are the “in” thing for the ladies of Joburg. The Africology range of beauty products is popular because not only is it cheap but they use natural ingredients to make their lathering body creams and scrubs. Having started their company in Johannesburg, the brand can now be found in hotels and spas across the world.
Healthy eating is healthy living
Most peeps in Joburg enjoy eating healthy because ‘green’ food is no longer rabbit food. Restaurants like Kauai are creating tasty and trendy meals for the everyday person. They have awesome smoothies made from “super foods’ which are healthy fruits and veggies that give you a boost when you need it.
Everything is going digital! The postal office is becoming an endangered species because Jozi is going digital. Even students get their fees statements online, people are shopping online, even cabs like Uber are using the digital space to do business.
In a bid to reduce paper usage, internet in Johannesburg has gone viral! Everyone uses internet, for EVERYTHING from online shopping to online school fees statements. According to the City of Joburg, internet usage has trebbled to over 12 million since the year 2000. Nine of the 12 major internet service providers listed Internet Service Providers Association by are based right here in Jozi.
Even our money in Joburg is going green
Banks like Nedbank are committed to climate change through their Corporate Social Investment programs. As a a signatory to the Carbon Disclosure Project, Nedbank received an A-minus rating for transparency and performance. This bank is leading in sustainable business practices as their policy is strongly focused on climate change issues and sustainable banking.
51% of Jozi buildings in the commercial sector are expected to be going green by the end of 2015 according to the McGraw and Hills World. There are long term financial benefits to going green for corporate companies including increased rental rates and asset value, reduced risk of depreciation, and higher tenant attraction and retention rates. The Green Building Council South Africa uses a green star rating system to determine how environmentally friendly buildings are built and operated.
The WWF Building in Braamfontein is one of the most cutting edge green buildings in Jozi, they have their own water purification system, light sensitive blinds and the building itself is made up of reused material.
In an initiative to reduce carbon emmissions, the City of Joburg has embarked on a campaign to promote cycling in the city. Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau launched Cycle week in March to demonstrate the city’s commitment to cycling.
Designated cycle lanes have been set up to allow for cyclists to travel safely. Cyling lanes are patrolled and monitored by a patrol unit which is set up by the Metro Police. 31 people have been fined for parking in the cycle lanes while six cars have been impounded. Other forms of public transport like the Gautrain and the Rea vaya rapid bus system contribute to lower carbon emissions in the city.
The arbor city
Johannesburg is an arbor city which means that majority of the trees found in the city are planted. If there were no humans were settled here then there would literally be no trees in this semi arid space. Arbor week is celebrated from 1- 7 September every year.
Eco friendly vehicles can be spotted all over Johannesburg. These cars emit less harmful fumes into the environment and have a positive
The Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius and the Porche Panamera S e-Hybrid are some of the popular environmentally friendly cars around. The Nissan Leaf for instance runs on electricity and its laminated lithium ion batteries can be charged at home or at any other electrical station. It has zero emissions and a low internal combustion engine allowing it to reach high speeds. The Eco mobility world festival is currently happening in Johannesburg until the end of the month.
Businesses reducing their carbon footprint
Energy saving measures are business as usual as retailers like Woolworths. By using Energy efficient store lighting, natural gas refrigeration and solar power theyre business model is built around the concept of being green. Their farming for the future initiative is a campaign to save water and have less chemical runoff through their farms. Fabric suppliers also adhere to high standards of sustainability when it comes to dyes, materials and chemicals.
Schools going green
Schools in Johannesburg are going green by planting veggie gardens. Today’s primary school students, like those of Sunward Park use the digital medium to interact with learning material. saving paper saving the trees!!
Is big business in Jozi for both the rich and the homeless. This trend is one that helps the homeless in Jozi make ends meet while businesses get to enjoy the long term benefits of responsible recycling.
Residential spaces like Alexandra township have taken to installing solar geysers in their homes. This has resulted in lower electricity bills and of course a greener city.
Chill out spots are greener than ever
The city has dedicated a whole department to oversee the 20 000 hectres of green open spaces that hosts over 2000 recreational parks, cemeteries and botanical gardens.
Currently, the Zoo has 326 species consisting of 2 096 specimens housed within 54ha area. The collection consist of 20 Amphibia (Frogs), 5 Arachnida (Spiders), 128 Aves (Birds), 47 Reptilia (Reptiles), 25 Osteichthyes (Pisces- Fish) and 101 Mammalia (Mammals).parks. this includes botanical gardens, the city zoo and cemetaries.
The way Joburgers are so serious about going green, even the financial hub of Africa, Sandton City, is shutting down for the entire duration of October to cut down emissions. The EcoMobility World festival and exhibition is an initiative that aims to close down all roads. Only public transport, cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to use the streets.
Woolworths Urban fashion store RE: has mannequins that are made from recycled materials. Now if that is not eco friendly then, what is?
Enough talk about green talk, Joburgers LOVE a bit of color!
A new Wits society aims to make green issues hip and stylish.
Generation Earth – Wits Council will launch at Wits on Saturday, March 3 as part of a green awareness initiative.
The non-governmental organisation, which began 18 months ago, has already been successful in schools around South Africa.
“We want to take the look of a hippie and turn it on its head,” said Michael Constantinides, the Wits Generation Earth president.
“Hippies are cool, but stylish hippies are even cooler. We want to show that being green is cool. Being green rocks.”
The society’s main aim was to raise awareness about environmental issues faced by youth, and to serve as a green networking platform, he said.
They would lobby Wits to create greener campus infrastructures by, for example, being “the eyes and ears” of Oricol Environmental Services, Wits’ new recycling company.
As a “student voice”, they would make sure recycling bins did not overflow, and the recycling infrastructure was stable.
Constantinides, a 2nd year architecture student, was also prompted to highlight green issues by the destruction of trees to make way for new building extensions.
“They’re building a new John Moffat extension and they cut down so many tree. Two huge trees have been cut down, which is a big problem at Wits.”
Fewer trees created social issues after shady spots for student socialising became limited.
“It’s not for a specific demographic. It’s for everyone,” said Constantinides.
He said many people did not know how to be green. The society would help its members to adapt to a greener lifestyle specific to their needs. As the only green society at Wits, Generation Earth wanted to teach people how green and social issues like eco-refugees, food shortage and climate change interacted with each other.
Constantanides said the society received funding from the R80 membership fee and its head office.