By Linda Pona
On Saturday, 9 September, Awarenet in Joza collaborated with Inkululeko, an NPO which assists school learners, and held a River Rescue information session at Vukani about the upcoming river cleanup for the river that runs through the area down to the Belmont Valley. At the meeting were residents across different generations and Ward 13 councillor Wandisile Matina, who discussed some of the issues they have had with water and sewage in the area and their role in caring for rivers.
During the session, Helen Holleman of River Rescue educated the community about the importance of caring for rivers, especially since they are water sources. “The river is a resource, a gift that we have been given, and if we care for it, it can keep on giving. It’s hard because the population has exploded globally and in Vukani,” Holleman told Grocott’s Mail.
Community members highlighted some of the issues they have experienced with the river. These include children playing by the river, litter getting into the river, and cows drinking from the river. Vukani resident Lingiwe Makile says sewerage is one of the river’s main issues. Holleman said that both people and animals drinking from the river is problematic because it can lead to health issues. Therefore, the community must take care of the river.
According to Matina, the river had an impact on people’s lives. He adds that the community has the power to make changes. “Izinto zalapha zilungiswa [ngabantu balapha],” he said.
Vukani resident Maria Ngciphu says keeping the community clean is crucial. “We shouldn’t just put anything in our toilets, especially things like nappies,” said Ngciphu. She adds that if she takes care of her environment and not litter, then this may help the environment. She said she is willing to assist River Rescue to clean the river as it will benefit everyone in the community.
Another Vukani resident, Thulani Cwesa, said keeping the community clean is the resident’s responsibility. He adds that he learned a lot about the environment. “We aren’t aware of pollution, but today’s conversation teaches us that we must clean our environment to have a good, healthy life,” he said.
Cwesa adds that, as a father, he must keep a clean environment and rescue the rivers for the children’s sake. “Just like when we were children, it was the community’s responsibility to clean, and now that we are adults, it’s up to us to clean the environment to help our children,” he adds.
18-year-old Ziyanda Helesi emphasised the importance of youth in cleaning up the community and river rescue, “If everyone takes action, then we could have a clean environment,” she said, adding that she will educate other learners about the Green Economy and keeping a clean environment.
River Rescue will be cleaning the river running through Vukani every Saturday morning from 09:00.