Women’s Month community clean-up day builds on successful partnerships

Following on from a successful cross-sector clean-up event on 15 June, schoolchildren, government, companies and NPOs once again came together in Orlando East, Soweto, to drive environmental awareness and to empower young women. Representatives from Qhubeka, Miss Earth South Africa, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), Pikitup and The Start Up Grind took part.

“The motive behind this event is to teach and encourage girls and young women to recycle and to look after the environment they live in, in order to create a healthy environment for healthy people, and for learning. We believe that teaching them now is the right way to bring about positive impact in the future,” says Hlengiwe Mthembu (Qhubeka Programme Administrator).

Everyone gathered at Lofentse Girls’ High School, which is part of a Qhubeka learn-to-earn programme, and speeches were given with messages of empowerment and motivation, including a message from Beth Malatji, successful female entrepreneur and founder of Rebeth Wine. This was followed by edutainment from Pikitup, before everyone spread out to clean up the area surrounding the school. Waste was collected and disposed of in bins donated to Lofentse Girls’ High School by Pikitup. Following the clean-up, the schoolchildren enjoyed refreshments provided by CCBSA.

Sarah Chemaly, in her capacity as both a Miss Earth South Africa 2018 Finalist and Qhubeka Key Account Manager, said that the purpose of the event was to empower girls with environmental education and awareness of why effective waste management and recycling is important, not only for the natural environment, but for an effective learning environment as well.

“In my capacity as a Miss Earth South Africa 2018 finalist, I draw on principles from the Miss Earth South Africa #WasteStopsWithMe campaign and Generation Earth to motivate schoolchildren to adopt positive behaviour changes and inform them of the empowerment opportunities that are available to the youth in the Green Economy,” Chemaly said. “The long-term objective of this event is to establish a Qhubeka eco-programme at this school, alongside the learn-to-earn programme, whereby girls will earn bicycles through recycling initiatives. At Qhubeka, we believe that #BicyclesChangeLives. Aside from the personal benefits of a bicycle, such as being able to travel faster and further, and carry more, I have also focused on explaining the principles of eco-mobility and sustainable transport to the girls today, to help them see the bigger picture too.”

Chemaly hopes to expand the programme to include more schools, with schoolchildren choosing to cycle as an extramural activity or school sport. “We might be able to identify star athletes who could go on to become professional women cyclists from the African continent. This would really close the loop! This project is inspired by my journey as a Miss Earth South Africa 2018 Finalist. The Miss Earth South Africa is a leadership programme that aims to empower young South African women with the knowledge and platform to empower young South African women with the knowledge and platform to create a sustainable difference for our natural environment.”

Qhubeka Executive Director, Tsatsi Phaweni, said that events such as today’s can only be made possible through co-operative partnerships. “Pikitup generously donated recycling bins to the school, and will be collecting, weighing and tracking the waste collected so that Lofentse Girls High School (LGHS) can compete in the Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) Schools Recycling Programme (2019),” she said. “At Qhubeka, we believe that we can do more when we partner with others – government, NPOs, corporates and communities – to help change more lives with bicycles.”