The following essay was written by one of the beneficiaries of the KBRC’s community outreach programme in the Grabouw area, Faizel Plaatjies, when he participated in the DEA Youth Environmental Services Programme, implemented by WESSA. It appeared on the website www.wessa.org.za
A Story of Change
I grew up in the poor community of Lebanon Forest Station. Even though we were economically marginalised, we lived in an ‘environmentally wealthy’, green village, surrounded by lush natural forestation.
Due to the shortage of employment, the members of the Lebanon community would often abuse the natural surroundings to the maximum in order to generate an income. Little thought or consideration was given to the damage being done to the environment. I have always known that the high unemployment rate and subsequent food insecurity to be one of the biggest challenges in own community, even nationally across the continent …
As a youngster growing up in this community I wanted to be the change; I had the burning desire to solve these problems, but I failed to do so every time. Filled with a sense of hopelessness, I really began to believe that this is where it’s going to end for me and my community.
Early in 2015, I got the opportunity to join the WESSA – Youth Environmental Services program. At the launch of the program I met this enthusiastic guy from the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company: C2C Program, who took a keen interest in me and my involvement in the Thandi Crèche Food Garden. After a brief introduction and discussion on sustainable mentorship, Jo Kearney offered to become my mentor.
Over the following few months Jo introduced me to many aspects of global food-shortage and world-wide economical challenges, at the same time opening my eyes to possible actions and solutions that could be implemented, not only within our community, but also all over the country.
Today my mentor and I are on a life-long journey of attempting to solve these global challenges one at a time. We believe that by teaching and training people about Permaculture, sustainable gardening and healthy eating habits, we can make a significant difference to the lives of many, traditionally marginalised communities, just like mine.
We believe that Permaculture is one of the most significant and easily implementable solutions to address the issue of food shortage and food scarcity. Permaculture is more that just organic gardening, it is much more than poly-culture agriculture; it is a sustainable manner that communities and nations can live in harmony with each other, live in harmony with nature, living a life of peace and abundance; based on the three pillars…Earth-Care…People-Care and Abundance-share!
Through the skills learnt via the WESSA Learnership and the many amazing people I have met on this new and exciting journey, I know for certain that I will never feel ‘hopeless’ again. I, Faizel Plaatjies, have become that change that I envisioned for me, my family, my community and everybody that comes across my path. For this I will be forever grateful …