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Pride and income from a load of rubbish

Written by Elmon Tshikhudo
A group of Limpopo women were not going to sit around with nothing to do while watching their environment deteriorating into a dumping site. Instead, they not only teamed up to clean their village, but also made plans to earn an income.

A group of women from Tshisahulu-Khwevha village outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo collected more than two tonnes of garbage during the launch of a cleanup campaign in September.

"As women, we felt we could not sit down and watch our village deteriorate into a dumping site. Our surroundings were not clean and we realised that we were the ones who could make a difference," said group leader Flora Bvumbithe.

Just a start

The Thulamela Local Municipality collected the women's garbage and took it to the local landfill. The women then planted a tree in their community to mark the occasion. They aim to clean their village twice a month.

"We had nothing to do and this is our humble contribution. It's just a start, but we aim to do our bit to improve our lives," said Bvumbithe.

"One of our long-term plans is to start a selfsustaining project that will generate an income," she said. They already sell some of the waste they have collected such as cans, glass, plastic and brown cardboard, to recycling companies. They also have plans to sell bags and shoes they are making from plastic waste

Plastic bags

Muvhango Tshisaphungo, a community leader who assisted in the clean-up campaign, said the community had already made arrangements for the municipality to provide the women with plastic bags for waste collection.

One of the challenges was that some streets in the village were inaccessible and the municipality would need to clear away bushes. He said the project did not undermine government programmes, but met government halfway.

"We felt we could do our bit to meet government halfway. We are very appreciative of what government is doing in trying to keep our surroundings clean. The municipality has erected refuse bins along our roads and we are making use of them," said Tshisaphungo.

Working together

Municipal spokesperson Nndwamato Tshiila praised the clean-up initiative and encouraged other communities to work with their municipalities too.

"We are always preaching about working together in public-private partnerships and we hope that with the help of our communities we can achieve a lot," said Tshiila.