SST supports Kariega Project in 10K tree challenge on Mandela Day

On Friday the 18th of July, Mandela Day, the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST), stepped out in support of its neighbouring non-profit organisation in Kenton on Sea, The Kariega Project.

The Kariega Project is a non-profit organisation that utilises an innovative financing system called ‘Kariega Credits’ to empower local communities to fund and implement grassroots economic, social, and environmental development programmes.  Communities earn Kariega Credits by undertaking a fixed amount of community service.

Mandela Day saw the launch of Kariega Project’s 10K Tree Challenge in three local communities in the area – Ekuphumleni; Marselle and Harmony Park.

2The 10k Tree Challenge is one of their more ambitious projects that aims to plant 10,000 trees in the low-income neighbourhoods surrounding Kenton-on-Sea, South Africa by 2020. In addition to the well-known ecological benefits of planting trees, the 10k Tree Challenge seeks to improve dignity, safety, and prosperity by altering community perception in these urban environments. In doing so, Kariega Project hopes to improve the living conditions and vitality of the participating neighbourhoods. The purpose of the project goes beyond ecology and aims to transform the urban environment to improve residents’ perceptions of safety and prosperity.

With SST’s focus on ‘Coastal Conservation and Poverty Alleviation through Education’ it simply seemed right to add support to an initiative that seeks to plant indigenous trees to improve quality of life in the local communities within which SST runs Educational programs.

The four areas that have particular significance in how to serve each day, as highlighted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, are Food security; Education & Literacy; Shelter & infrastructure; and Service and volunteerism and overlap in many ways with SST’s vision. Furthermore, as the Foundation points out “2014 is particularly symbolic as we work to honour a great statesman and make every day a Mandela Day as we mark South Africa’s 20 years of democratic freedom”. As such with SST’s involvement in the launch of a public participation coffee table book in celebration on our 20th year of democracy alongside the launch of Hope Spots in South Africa, participation in spreading Hope in our local community seemed an appropriate symbolic gesture for SST on Mandela Day. The day started off in Ekuphumleni at the Age in Action premises – a partner organisation to Kariega Project. Age-in-Action is a national organisation aimed at stimulating, empowering and caring for the elderly. The Ekuphumleni branch of Age-in-Action approached the Kariega Project to help facilitate fundraising to pay for a coat of paint for their centre and have been earning Kariega Credits by performing housekeeping for those too frail to do so themselves. With the fundraising secured for the paint what remained was finding the hands to paint the building and Mandela Day participants from Kariega Game Reserve’s conservation volunteer programme were the ideal candidates.

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The Ekuphumleni Age in Action facilitator, Nomawethu Ngangqa met and briefed Mandela Day participants from Pam Golding Kenton on Sea; Kenton Eco Estate; Quest Africa and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) as to where the first of the trees in the Kariega Project 10K Tree Challenge should be planted along the road side. Sean Kelly of Kariega Project delivered trees, watering pipes, worm pee and stakes to each site and explained to each team how to plant the tree in a sustainable manner. The rock hard soil proved to be quite a team building exercise for all involved.

Over in Marselle teams were already at work digging holes along the main roadside, outside the clinic, library and Thokomala home. Mrs Bonelwa Adams of the Masibulele Group runs a local nursery school together with her assistants Fundiswa Mabutsane and Siphokazi Mbombda; local neighbourhood children as well as her own son and friends they made short shift of digging the holes for the first ten trees. The group then moved across to the library where they joined Mandela Day participants from the Marselle Youth Development Group and an ABET team led by Miss Cynthia James. Young girls from a local traditional dancing group cheered the workers on.

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In Harmony Park Melany Pietersen and children from the Education Support Group (ESG) in Klipfontein huddled together and sheltered from the icy wind, having dug their ten hole as they eagerly awaited the arrival of the trees.

Later back at Age in Action the Kariega Game Reserve volunteers from France, England, Iceland, Mexico, and America were enjoying a bowl of hearty lentil soup as they joined the Age-in-Action gogo’s for the mid-day meal. The Volunteers all agreed that it had been a satisfying experience and found doing the work effortless but stressed that the most rewarding part of the day was interacting with the community both the elderly and playing with the children from the neighbouring crèche.

And while Mandela Day participants reluctantly readied themselves to head off back to work with much soul food to ponder, the gogos were preparing to dance, expressing their gratitude that the day had gone so well.

For more information on Kariega Project contact Sean Kelly at skelly@kariegaproject.org visit their Facebook Page and website
For more information about SST contact maya@sst.org.za visit our Facebook Page.

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