South African Student volunteers swopped their books for gloves at the weekend, as they worked to help clean up a stretch of the capital city’s Walker Spruit in the Sunnyside area.
The group of around 70 students from the University of Pretoria, assisted by some fellow students from the University of Johannesburg who are part of the international group, Saving the Earth from A to Z (Asez), cleaned the river from Brooklyn Mall to the Caledonian Stadium.
More than 200 yellow bags full of litter were a reflection of their efforts to clean up the city’s rivers, 5km at a time. Students will adopt different sections and clean them up.
Ask what they found among the rubbish, and one is amazed: lost ID documents (or perhaps those discarded by thieves), syringes, old bits of mattress, plastic and other debris.
One of the volunteers, Tuks student Resego Matlakala, said they had dedicated themselves to this spruit to protect the environment but also in an effort to curb crime.
“We call it the Walker Spruit, but it’s difficult to walk along it because of all the rubbish and rubble. If you have an area where people dump, it becomes easier for more people to dump; but if it starts to become clean, they may think twice about dumping.”
Matlakala said cleaning and protecting the environment might sound like a mammoth task that needed to be tackled on a global scale, but the Earth was made up of continents; those continents had countries, which had provinces, cities and communities. It just took one community to start, and hopefully the good work would spread.
“We want all students to join in our cleaning initiatives. If we arise as one with the spirit of ubuntu, we will surely accomplish the Save Movement of Asez, the Green Good Deeds of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Muneiwa Rambuda, president of Asez_UP.
Asez is a global organisation of university student volunteers operating in 175 countries. It works in the field of social service. Students help vulnerable people in their communities, raise awareness around issues, and offer environmental protection and victim relief, assisting with disaster relief and school restoration programmes. For details visit https://asez.org/