The Poor robbing the Poor! What are we going to do?

Dec 1, 2016Community Conservation, GrowGreen, Permaculture0 comments

By Dr Tracey Phillips

On Monday Nolo was robbed, drugged and asleep while people pilfered her home on the Cape Flats – an extremely poor area on the outskirts of Cape Town city centre in South Africa. They took her laptop, the very thing she uses to make a living to support her and her son.

On Tuesday Gondwana Alive sponsored Nolo and Mandlakazi to train 24 eco-friendly gardeners from the Community Works Programme in Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats.

There is very little space in these communities to garden and little top soil left in the few open spaces. Showing amazing fortitude after her horrid experience the previous day, Nolo with Mandlakazi’s help taught them how to use the basic permaculture approach (which looks after soil, water, air, biodiversity) to create a colourful garden using nothing but an old desk frame, plastic bottles, a bit of compost and seedlings – of plants, vegetables and herbs. Creating vertical gardens like this doesn’t take up much space and or need a lot of topsoil or water. I’d love to see one on every shack wall! Idealistic – absolutely, creative – certainly – I believe this energy along with a lot of strength, compassion and fortitude is what we need if we are to create a safe, sustainable society.

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Firmly but compassionately introduce a softer, greener energy and keep doing it

Kayelitsha Permaculture 2Gondwana Alive’s sponsorship of this skills training was in part a response to the deluge of increasingly horrible and horrific stories I have heard from my team and friends over the past 3 years.

Our aim is to help bring a softer, greener, more hopeful energy into these desperate communities, to firmly but compassionately counter the harsh violence and disregard for life that seems to be the daily reality of residents.


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Our GrowGreen programme freely supports eco-friendly practitioners

Khayelitsha PermacultureBesides short eco-friendly gardening skills training courses like the one she delivered in Khayelitsha, Nolo offers ongoing mentorship and support to gardeners. She and Mandlakazi also invited the trainees to register their gardening services on our online recruitment Advisor. Mandlakazi has already registered 10 and is waiting for information from the others who were very keen to register as well. Gondwana Alive develops and runs campaigns to promote the Advisor to potential employers, so employers can get a job done (e.g. gardening) in an eco-friendly manner and make a contribution to environmental and social uplfitment at the same time. They can also rate the practitioner’s services online – creating a self-regulating quality of service system. All of these activities form part of our GrowGreen programme and we offer our services freely to eco-friendly practitioners (gardeners to graduate).

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GrowGreen works to create job opportunities for youth from underprivileged communities

Our GrowGreen activities have a particular focus on youth or contractors employing youth. Our aim is to combat the 60% youth unemployment rate in South Africa by upskilling youth as eco-friendly gardeners, housekeepers, trail builders, herders and environmental monitors; registering them on our online recruitment Advisor and promoting their services to potential employers (home owners, land owners, NGOs, municipalities). We also aim to help them develop a personal develop plan, and use these basic skills to earn and save money so they can study and follow a career of their choosing (taking their green knowledge with them wherever they may go).

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Support one mentor and touch many lives

Please donate to help us continue offering our mentorship, training and support services freely to youth. By supporting one mentor and trainer like Nolo you can touch many lives – 24 in one day in this example of the amazing work she and the rest of our team are doing.

GA Women Team