Greyton Transition Town, South Africa

Greyton Transition Town (GTT) is the first official transition group in Africa. It was initiated in 2012. A significant focus of their work is on environmental and humane education in local schools. Their activities include transformation a municipal dumpster into a green park and planting 500 trees and planting an outdoor classroom using Ecobrick; learning about permaculture and creating organic food gardens in all six local schools; setting among swap shops where parents and children bring clean and dry recycle wastes in exchange for vouchers; setting up a trial hummane educational program aimed at inspiring empathy in children, etc.

Picture retrieved from Transition Network

Greening of the environment by planting trees in a former dumpster, creative use of non-recyclable materials(making them into Ecobricks for an outdoor classroom), creative ways to encourage the collection of recyclable wastes by children and their parents(by exchanging them with vouchers), the use of organic wastes to plant and provide organic food in the local schools, among other outcomes.

Here is an example of using waste to green the environment, provide organic food, and even building materials. Here is also an example of creatively engaging students and parents in environmental preservation/community building by creating mutual benefits, e.g., the voucher card swaps.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA.

More info here

Community Action Network

Starting from a few existing CSO’s a call went out for communities to come together across Cape Town to support those vulnerable during lockdown. In no time at all over 200 CAN’s had sprung up over Cape Town, self organising in a flat hierarchy, organising to support the rapidly rising number of people without income due to the strict lockdown measures, the number of people going hungry rising rapidly daily. Using whats app and zoom calls these CAN’s were learning from each other and networking, with CAN’s from better resourced areas pairing up with CAN’s from under resourced areas.

Image by Cape Town Together

At present, the CAN’s are doing more than the SA government to feed those who are going hungry due to strict lockdown measures through a network of community kitchens, as COVID numbers are now rising CAN’s are now organising to put together ‘Community Care Centres’. Gardening initiatives are springing up in every part of town.

The lockdown connected a divided Cape Town. Those requesting food support volunteering to cook in the community kitchen alongside their much wealthier neighbours, bridging divides. People connected with their neighbours and an elaborate scheme of street reps sprung up where neighbours support each others, sending data , airtime and supermarket vouchers to those in need.

Story shared by Elin Dubym, South Africa.

More info here or at elinlovisa@gmail.com

Young boy’s 6th birthday

It was a 6 year old boy’s birthday and he could obviously not invite his friends to a birthday party. They stay in a suburb where people stay behind high walls to protect them against crime and people do not really socialise. In an effort to make something of the birthday his mother phoned the people in her street to ask if they would participate in making his birthday special by putting a little present for his birthday at their gate the next morning. Everyone was lockdown so they could not buy special presents.

Picture from Harrogate Mumbler

On his birthday the mother took the boy for a drive in the street and stopped at each gate where a little present was placed. Much to their surprise almost everyone in the street participated and the boy was delighted by all the surprise presents. The little boy was very happy with his surprise birthday and that was the beginning of people in the street talking to each other.

People need a little stimulation to reach out to others. The difficult situation lead the mother to reach out to neighbours and the neighbours were keen and willing to participate. Most people are keen to experience a sense of community.

Story shared by Maretha Visser, South Africa

More info please contact: maretha.visser@up.ac.za

COVID-19 Lockdown relief efforts in Makhanda/Grahamstown, South Africa (by LIV Lukhanyiso) – Food Parcels

LIV Lukhanyiso exists to provide a sustainable solution to South Africa’s growing number of orphan and vulnerable children, and building community is vital to our work. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of vulnerable families and children has grown significantly. In partnership with two local schools, LIV Lukhanyiso has run a successful project to provide food parcels weekly to 110 families in our city during lockdown. These are families with preschool children and most of these children would usually receive their main meal at school. Our aim is to continue to support these children until they can return to school.

Photo by Lara Kruiskamp, founder of LIV Lukhanyiso

Our motto is Together We Can – and it is in times like these that we can clearly see that we can do far greater things when we work together for a common purpose. We are seeing relationships being built and strengthened as sponsors, local businesses, schools and volunteers all work together and come alongside those in need. The project has also created wider exposure for our organisation’s work with vulnerable children. The food parcels provided will keep the children fed and nourished to avoid the child development challenges hunger and malnutrition cause.

We have been running fundraising initiatives for our organisation for a number of years, although successful, the response we have seen for this project has been unprecedented. We have learned that particularly individual donors prefer to give towards a cause that has immediate returns. We have also learned that beneficiaries are far more grateful than what is normally articulated. With more beneficiaries now with cell phones, this gratitude is easier to get across and it serves as a great connector between our beneficiaries and our donors.

Story shared by Nomonde Ndlangisa, South Africa

More info here or contact nomonde@liv-lukhanyiso.com