Community-based clean-up campaign Go Green and Clean has turned illegal dumpsites in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, into playgrounds for the young.
“We clean and green our neighbourhood. By talking to our neighbours, supporting local groups and re-imagining where we live, we can green not only our own lifestyles, but our streets and societies,” says project director Rashid Juma.
The non-profit was launched in June 2013 and monitors illegal dumpsites. Its volunteers “explain to children why they should not drop even a piece of paper on the ground. We need to change the community’s attitude towards the environment, and it must begin at that level”.
“As concerned citizens, we refused to watch how our community was deteriorating and spiralling downwards in the increasing pollution and the destruction of valuable land resources,”Juma says.
The project has recruited unemployed youths as volunteers to clean the busy 8th Lane in Eldorado Park.
“This was the walk-through lane that was covered with long grass where people dumped their rubbish. This gave rise to crime and drug smugglers peddling their illicit goods. Women were abused and even raped in this filthy lane,” says Juma.
“As soon as we started cleaning up here the community joined in and assisted us. “Now we are hosting five-a-side soccer tournaments for boys and girls from six to 19 in 8th lane every Saturday and Sunday.
“This is to encourage community participation in the area to see what can be done with a previously filthy dumpsite that can be turned into a place of community pride.”
Juma says they want to “encourage the communities in Eldorado Park and even the rest of Johannesburg and the country to physically clean and green their environment and maintain it”.
“Food security is also a top priority in our country and we need to start teaching future generations how to preserve nature and to grow organic, healthy foods,” he adds.
Go Green and Clean expanded into an agriculture project and is working with community members to identify space for vegetable and fruit gardens.
Another goal is to establish micro-recycling plants in each extension, which will provide further job creation in the area.