Volunteers of Lidgetton

“There was so much water flooding the road last summer that cars and taxis could not pass” Sipho Zungu tells me, “we decided to do something about it.” The problem was that the drains near the shops in Lidgetton were completely blocked with litter. “We are unemployed, but there is no point sitting around doing nothing, so we formed the Volunteers of Lidgetton (VOL) to work to improve our community.” adds Felix Zuma.

Felix grew up on a farm in Lidgetton and has watched it change over the years. Londi Duma, who was born here, says “it’s growing fast, there are so many people here now – there are Zimbabweans and BaSotho as well as Zulus. People are arriving all the time” Nontobeko Mkhize is a recent arrival, “I chose Lidgetton because it is quiet and beautiful and close to the schools for my kids.”

In just a few months this group have made significant impact. Clearing the drains, repainting the railway underpass (with paint donated by F&F in Howick), and liaising with Transnet to install lighting in the dark tunnel. Alex March of Nkosi Nursery donated indigenous trees which they have planted along Market Street. “We decided to start here as it is the main road through the village.” Residents have been delighted with the tree planting campaign and many have asked for trees to plant nearer their homes. Wandering goats and cows can be a problem for young trees, so with help from John Hall of Pleasant Places, they have all been fenced, and mulched with thick blankets of fallen leaves and dried grass for the Winter. Peter’s Gate has donated herb plants for the garden at the community centre.

As there is not much in the way of entertainment, The Volunteers have arranged a couple of fun community days – a soccer and netball tournament and also a ‘talent search’ which encouraged everyone to perform poems, songs and dances. “The way people came out, it was amazing. The place was packed beyond our expectation.” Says Sipho proudly.

“We want to encourage others to look after our environment.” Felix adds. A partnership with Midlands Conservancies Forum means there is an enviro-club for youngsters in the pipeline, a water workshop with residents to highlight the importance of the wetland and stream beside the village and the opportunity to network with other organisations concerned with social and environmental justice.

The group has added two new members and says others are also coming forward to help now. “We are not rushing”, quips Sipho, “speed kills! We will miss important things if we rush.” The VOL motto is ‘Problems become Opportunities when the Right People Work Together.’ If you are one of those people, why not contact Felix on 078 686 1060 and offer your assistance to make Lidgetton a better place for all?

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