If I ask you to close your eyes for a few minutes and visualize the perfect idea of the community you live in, what would come to mind? These are mine:
- Streets would be litter-free
- No people standing on street corners or trudging from door-to-door in hopeless attempts to get work
- Citizens waking up each day with a sense of purpose and pride in what they do, who they are.
We have become a society that is insular and self-absorbed. We talk about “those” people, we feel sorry for them, we complain about the state of our town, happy to lay blame elsewhere for the woes and we pray daily that whatever is going on “out there” does not inconvenience or impact us too much. We get more worked up about a supermarket no longer stocking pork products than we do about rape, child trafficking or violence against women!
The Numbi Gate road, which is the road used to access our biggest tourist feature, Kruger National Park, has become one giant rubbish dump. As residents of a Conservancy along this road, we photograph offenders, alert the authorities and after much begging and pleading the rubbish is collected (or in some instances simply bulldozed down into the Sand River tributary – out of sight out of mind!) But a few days later it’s all back. Litter is one of my biggest bugbears but on the flip side, how can I blame people when White River and surrounds does not have active dumping sites, where recycling is professionally handled and waste properly and safely disposed of? Can we really expect people who are already struggling financially, or with limited transport means, to drive all the way to Nelspruit to drop off bags of garbage? A proper recycling depot and waste disposal site will create employment. This together with education programs in our rural schools about the way we are creating one huge rubbish dump of our planet and the damage we are doing would make such a difference. There must be many ways to generate income from recycling.
I’m working on an idea for a directory linked to the We Are White River App for our informal contractors to help create employment and connect them with customers. Still in the early stages but I’m excited at the potential.
Finally, just for today, try a little kindness. Greet people with a smile; use their name if they have a name tag. Thank them for their service. Why, even hug them if you’ve a mind to! (Ever read up on the positive effects of a hug?) Make them feel they matter, that they have value, that you SEE them.
An empowered community is all about connection, the win-win spirit of Ubuntu. And that starts with you, and me. Engage with life and you might find it starts engaging with you in a surprisingly new way.