Bonteheuwel schools and organisations joined the Beitul Maal Humanitarian Centre in a picket to create awareness about the implications of illegal dumping and to commemorate International Earth Day.
The event was also held to spread the message of the Bonteheuwel CLEAN-MY-COMMUNITY (CMC) project, which Beitul Maal, a non-profit organisation (NPO), launched in September last year.
According to co-ordinator Mouroed Greef, the NPO has been active in Bonteheuwel since 2010 with social relief and community empowerment work alongside various community stakeholders.
“We initiated the CMC project to address the concern of illegal dumping, which has been on the increase over the past few years. Dumping undermines the well-being of residents and puts children and families at risk. The CMC project is aimed at addressing the unhygienic conditions created by illegal dumping outside the school. This problem persists and will only change through intense and ongoing community action by all stakeholders,” Mr Greef said.
CMC chairperson Joanne Lewis said they also launched a pilot project involving recycling with Bonteheuwel High and Cedar Primary schools.
“In this way, the schools are able to generate funds for themselves. Our mission is for the community to take ownership of our environment. We need to change our mindsets, and we need to start with our children. When we work with our children at schools, they are then able to take what they have learnt, home and educate others,” Ms Lewis said.
Xolisa Hlathi, a Grade 9 pupil at Bonteheuwel High, said he supports this initiative, as it demonstrates how the community can work together to change the environment.
“Just because I did not throw that paper on the floor, does not mean that I don’t have to pick it up. We can all make a difference. Ironically, it’s the things that improve our lives that creates the most pollution. So, if for example, we drive less, it will help. The smallest difference can make a big change. We must all do it long enough so that it becomes a habit,” Xolisa said.
Nikhita McKechnie, a Grade 12 pupil, said people know right from wrong and the consequences of illegal dumping.
“I also would not want our sea animals to become extinct because of our actions,” she added.
Schools who joined the picket include Bergsig Primary, Bonteheuwel High, Cedar and Arcadia High schools. Ward 50 councillor, Angus McKenzie and the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies also supported the initiative.
Said Ms Lewis: “We invite all stakeholders, including schools, to take a firm stand against dumping and call on the community at large to rise up for a cleaner and greener Bonteheuwel. International Earth Day is a time to reflect on our precious environment and the need for positive changes to protect our planet and natural resources.”