Residents of Riley and Chevrolet crescents in Beacon Valley rolled up their sleeves and cleaned a field in their community – and then celebrated with a tree planting ceremony.
Sub-council 12 chairman and Ward 79 councillor, Solomon Philander said he was proud of the community and the children coming together to make the space clean again.
The tree planting ceremony was held on Friday June 4 on the Riley Crescent and Chevrolet Crescent field.
The community had been affected by the drive-by shootings of the late Tamir Mitchell and Morgan Munnik earlier this year.
It was then the community decided that something needed to be done about the dumping and to keep the space clean and accessible to children so that they had a place to play and take ownership of, said Mr Philander.
The field had been used as a dump site and criminals and drug users had been using a building on it as a hideout.
The field was also badly lit and the pathway had been vandalised.
Now there is adequate lighting but the fence which had been erected as part of the upgrade had been taken down shortly afterward.
Residents also bought paint and painted murals on the walls. “The community is taking responsibility and accountability for the space. We can change the narrative if we all come together,” said Mr Philander.
“We are proud of this community. We are still touched by the lives lost, but we are taking ownership of the spaces. You keep me accountable too which I love. If it were not for your queries I would not be aware of these issues. Thank you for working together,” he said.
Proposals to develop housing and a park on the field are under discussion, Mr Philander added.
Community member, Fatima Jacobs, said they had complained about the field “as it was always bad”.
“Tuesdays the dirt trucks would come. Those who forgot to put their bins out would dump the dirt on the field. We took initiative after the shootings,” she said.
Ms Jacobs said children would pick up papers, sweep and do anything that was needed to keep the space clean and were rewarded with snacks for their hard work. Now, she said, the field was more accessible to the children.
Another resident, Lionel Jack, said children let them know if anyone dumped their rubbish on the field and that recently there had been no incidents of dumping.
Resident Galima Mclean added: “God gave us the ability to do this. Lots is wrong in the area but we’re positive that we can change the space. The children were here first, they helped paint and clean the space mostly. We are doing this for our community and children, we can make a change for the children.”