A derelict inner city garden is getting a makeover from an unlikely group of gardeners: 30 people who have lived on the streets up to 30 years will join a work scheme program from January 2015 and work towards bringing this garden area to life. This is one of the ways they will be ‘giving back’ to the city and its citizens, whilst having a chance to earn an honest living.
Behind the initiative is a South African social change agent, a non-profit organisation with a national footprint that has since its foundation run holistic social solutions to facilitate wide-scale positive change. These include life skills programmes, often as an alternative to punitive justice, for marginalised people, especially youth. Our team at Creative Consulting & Development Works’ through our if i could… programme are excited to offer facilitated internships with this amazing organisation.
The garden is situated on Roeland Street, on the boundary wall of a very popular food franchise in South Africa, Fruit and Veg City. The land belongs to the City of Cape Town, but was leased by Fruit and Veg City to address the problem of constant crime over the wall at the back of the property. By fencing off the area with barbed wire by the boundary wall, the crime was brought down.
To help crime in the area to go down even further, Fruit and Veg City are willing to open up the space to the very same people they have had a difficult relationship with because of crime and litter – the people living on the streets.
The confidence to welcome street people back into this space was made possible by the uniqueness of this project. The organisation’s work is about bringing people together and aligning different strengths to provide for more sustainable solutions with real social impact. Human lives are complex and there are no silver bullets to resolve multiple problems such as unemployment, low level of professional and life skills, lack of shelter, repeat arrests, history of substance abuse and low self-esteem.
Multiple partners are on-board in ‘reinventing’ these lives to address these complex human needs:
- City of Cape Town Extended Public Works Programme
- CCID social workers and safety officers
- Participating social workers
- Service Dining Room serving nourishing meals
- Soil for Life training and development of garden
- Safety Lab – mobile phone application for processing monitoring data
- U-Turn skills development (Occupational therapy, English, IT)
- A group of students of psychology as volunteers coaching the beneficiaries
- Department of Social Development Western Cape – access to shelter accommodation
- Department of Agriculture – borehole, pump, security, farming materials, plants and soil
- A project project participant (who preferred not to be named) with piercing green eyes and a quick smile, used to sleep by the boundary wall of Fruit and Veg City. In 2006, they were chased away and the fence was erected. She recalls the good times in the parking area and garden, football games and story telling. The increased unemployment and social exclusion however, brought a new group of people onto the streets, with drugs and crime. This group tarnished the good relationship with the Fruit and Veg City and made the place uninhabitable.
Opening the doors of the garden is therefore like coming home for this particular participant and she is very grateful for the trust in the project by the Fruit and Veg City.
If you are an international graduate looking for a meaningful if i could… internship in Cape Town, and this project interests you, don’t delay! Contact our if i could… team today to find out more.