Youth learn self-sustaining skills

Participants of a climate resilience and green economy education programme in Rocklands.

Mitchell’s Plain residents have put shoulder to the wheel in ensuring that they can live sustainable lives by reducing their waste, carbon footprint and dependency on government water and electricity sources.

Fifteen “revolutionaries”, all unemployed youth, are taking part in a climate resilience and green economy education programme, offered by Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) at Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre, based at Rocklands Primary School.

Maurice Spandiel, 26, from Woodlands, said he was not doing anything productive at home, when he decided to take the course.

“My main aim is to go into cooking and what better way than to start where the food comes from, which could be my backyard,” he said.

Mr Spandiel said his education has progressed to different sustainable cooking methods.

The group installed a rocket stove, an efficient and hot burning stove using wood fuel in Lockheed Street, Rocklands, where they completed their community project.

Fuel is burned in a simple combustion chamber containing an insulated vertical chimney in the rocket stove, which was built on Margaret Hartzenburg’s stoep as she plans on running a soup kitchen in the coming winter months.

Zoë Lakey, 21, from Lentegeur, said she has set up a grey water system at home and shared knowledge with her family.

“I have collected waste for compost so I can establish a garden,” she said.

Ms Lakey said it was all about inviting nature into the community and empowering the community to know they can do things on their own.

Lead facilitator Alex Kruger said the group have analysed the community, collected information and taken their experience to design and implement sustainable models, which they would either use at home or help install.

“They have taken energy sources, water supply, waste management, transport and food supply concerns and turned it on its head to green their lives, being more socially aware and realised a more cost efficient or barter type economy,” she said.

Ms Kruger said the training would bring localised services to the community.

“Whether it is a clinic, they can perhaps set up an outdoor centre, where doctors from the community volunteer their services and the residents offer their skills or expertise in return,” she said.

“They can also look at holistic methods, exercise or activities, which could improve their overall health status, which would prevent chronic illness,” she said.

Ms Kruger said a food garden was suggested to the residents, to whom participants spoke to during research but the community asked for a medicinal garden, including herbs and natural healing remedies.

Farouk Davids, from Seaview Block watch, who had helped the participants set up “camp” along Impala Street and recreate the space, said he had also learned a different way of doing things.

“The programme has brought water-wise gardening but also uplifted the community to become active and use their open spaces for good,” he said.

Mr Davids said in this way residents could see and experience sustainable activities, means to create and be economically active.

The participants are close to completing their 15-week accredited skills programme, including permaculture looking at ecosystems, soils, water, energy and plant systems; urban regeneration through the study of household and neighbourhood resilience by collecting information, design and implementation; personal resilience, for participants to get to know themselves, their strengths and beliefs to better articulate and express themselves with self care practices like Chi Gong, yoga and meditation; and job shadowing to gain invaluable experience into the world of work.

The participants will also be offered a four-week job shadowing opportunity at different green economies in and around Cape Town to further practice what they have learned.

The next course starts on Monday May 6. Interested applicants, aged between 18 and 35, must at least have a Grade 11 certificate and can contact Marliese on 082 4134 907 for more information.