The Bekezela informal settlement located in the inner city of Johannesburg in Newtown, is not your average informal settlement. This community is built around the waste collection and recycling value-chain and supports the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of waste reclaimers and their families.
In Bekezela, the community understands that waste is valuable, and these hard-working men and women reclaimers play a critical role in recovering waste materials from households, the environment and landfills to enable collections for the recycling industry. What is unique about this community, is that young kids are exposed to recycling at a very early age.
Recognising the importance of early childhood development, the reclaimers established a playschool for their children to provide a safe and secure environment while they are out reclaiming. The playschool has three classrooms, which have been constructed from containers donated by partners, and the school now looks after around 30 children of reclaimers between the ages of 2 and 6 years old.
According to Luyanda Hlatshwayo, a community leader and co-founder of the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) “We saw the need for a playschool when Covid stopped children from attending schools. As reclaimers we find books, toys, pens and building materials which we collect for the playschool”.
When Safripol visited the site and learnt about the playschool we knew we had to assist since we recognise that youth education is key in changing attitudes towards waste and circularity. To enhance the learning experience of these 30 children, Safripol recently sponsored a play gym with artificial grass to the playschool.
In addition, in partnership with the The Inani StartWell Foundation, Safripol now sponsors daily nutritional cereals to the Bekezela playschool.
According to Safripol’s Executive for Human Resources, Kurt Schovell, “We are very pleased to include the Bekezela playschool in our feeding scheme, as malnutrition and growth stunting in critical development years is a major problem faced by millions of vulnerable South African children”.
When asked about what the Safripol partnership means to the Bekezela community and ARO, Luyanda had this to say “With great collaborations between the community, reclaimers and Safripol we built our first reclaimer playschool. Nutritious cereals are fed to the children every morning and a play area our children never dreamed of. A perfect example of sustainable solutions.
Avashnee Chetty Sustainability manager at Safripol added that Safripol and its partners are very proud to be a part of this initiative with ARO, since it bears testament that business can indeed be a force for good.
Let’s plastic responsibly.