And this was the experience of a group of keen Masiphumelele children who took part in a clean-up organised by the African Surfriders Foundation.
The foundation, based near Sunnyacres Shopping Centre, concentrates on being active facilitators and finding social environmental solutions for coastal areas, concentrating on lower income communities living near delicate ecosystems.
It is an NPO funded by the sale of Smithy surfboards made by its founder Ryan Smith. Volunteers walked around Masiphumelele with invitations to clean up in exchange for goodie bags and in the end, 60 children came, excitedly waving their invitations.
“We invited the surrounding communities to participate by lending a hand on the day or by donating goodies for the children’s lucky packets,” said Georgia McTaggart, one of the organisers.
“We had planned to walk in a wide circle around Masiphumelele collecting what we found but the kids insisted that we tackle the rubbish dumped between the makeshift taxi rank and Kommetjie Road, so we started there,” said Ms McTaggart.
“We collected boxes, bottles, broken glass, batteries, electronic components, motor oil as well as a couple of dead rats and piles of rotten vegetables dumped by the vendors operating nearby. From builders’ rubble to bottle tops, the kids went for it and within 90 minutes they had filled over 150 green bags with rubbish.
“The clean-up crackled with the festive air of a birthday party, with children scurrying to and fro in an effort to fill the most bags in the shortest amount of time. Chatting, laughing and shouting as well as the occasional show and tell- in the case of a rat corpse or a seemingly fresh bag of tomatoes dumped in the quagmire.
“The atmosphere proved to us, once again, that participation in projects such as these demands the inclusion of youth, as their attitude is less of a blaming kind and more in the spirit of adventure and getting the job done!”
She said that as everyone became more familiar with each other, the children started to open up about what they would like to see in the area they were cleaning when the rubbish was removed. If they had the vote, the area would be transformed into a playground with swings, slides and
a big jungle gym.
“We invite everyone to participate in our clean-ups and hope that those who hear about this clean-up feel inspired to get involved in clean-ups in their own neighbourhoods and help to create a better environment for all.
“African Surfriders Foundation is happy to provide assistance and guidance where needed,” she said.
She said they welcomed the participation of local businesses through donations to specific projects and specifically invited corporate retailers to get involved in these types of events as it
was mostly grocery waste that they collect.
To find out more, contact the African Surfriders Foundation through Ryan Smith on
079 9988 256 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Georgia McTaggart on 062 447 2664
or email her at email@example.com; or find them on Facebook.