Young people from Gugulethu and members of various NPOs rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty when they spruced up the NY116 sports field and painted its halls on Saturday April 21.
The cleaning campaign was spearheaded by the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), in partnership with Africa Unite, Let’s Do It, Amy Foundation, Metrorail, Food for Life and Luyolo Sports and Recreation Foundation.
IPYG launched the Peace My City campaign in Gugulethu last year. The campaign involves government, NGOs and local communities partnering to identify conflict areas within society and working to establish them as safe areas called Peace Zones.
With the support and help of the communities, the identified spaces are cleaned, refurbished and maintained to create the awareness and need for peace.
Last year the organisation painted murals of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the walls of the sports field as they were among the global leaders who promoted peace and unity.
The campaign seeks to promote peace among communities where crime and violence is rife and urges communities to protect their facilities.
IPYG coordinator, Cleo Baartman, said when they first visited the sports field, rubbish and debris had been discarded at the premises. Ms Baartman said they wanted Gugulethu residents to be at the forefront of promoting peace and unity. She said the organisation envisioned communities across the country that were committed to living by the principle of compassion.
She said through this campaign they hoped to see the youth playing an active and meaningful role in development of their areas.
She said she was over the moon with excitement when young people came out in their numbers to paint the walls of their sports field. “We believe that a compassionate world is a peaceful world. We believe that a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated with dignity, equity and respect. It thrills our heart when we come back here again and no one has vandalised the sports field. But I appeal to the community to do maintenance work of the field and not wait for us to come back again. We want peaceful communities. We do not want to live in areas where people are scared to even go to the shop,” she said. Ms Baartman said to date, IPYG has identified two peace zones in Cape Town, the NY116 sports field in Gugulethu and a recreational space in Factreton near Kensington.
The DA’s proportional representative councillor, Mzwakhe Qavashe, said vandalism and mugging was rife in the area. But he quickly pointed out that since the organisation refurbished the stadium, vandalism had stopped.
Mr Qavashe said they took a decision to not hire private security companies to safeguard the sports field and the Luyolo community centre. Instead he said they opted to hire local people and that has proved to be working in curbing vandalism.
He said this campaign has yielded the desired results and has urged the residents to keep playing a meaningful role in the upliftment of their communities.
Founding member of Luyolo Sports and Recreational Foundation, Sikelela Mqatazana, said he has learnt a lot about this campaign and most importantly it promotes peace. He said the campaign also taught young people to take responsibility of community facilities.