Second Creek Environment Project
A few years ago, a squatter camp in East London was just another casualty of burgeoning political strife and unemployment in South Africa. It was a crude configuration of shacks amidst a wasteland of broken bottles barely distinguished from the adjoining municipal rubbish dump. Today, this settlement is ship-shape. The shacks are immaculately painted. The grounds are spotless and a vegetable ground dominates the area. This transformation is largely due to the work of children, specifically pupils of John Bisseker Secondary School. This is their biggest success story.
The school has been involved since 1991 in the Second Creek Environment Project. Starting with a small group of only 15, the project has now grown to encompass a human settlement of nearly 1,000 people. The Project's areas of involvement include monitoring the condition of the Second Creek river, regular clean-up campaigns, sorting of garbage for recycling, planting of trees and halting soil erosion. The group also assists the squatter community with food, conducts first aid courses and holds regular "enviro-clinics" to educate parents and children on environmental matters.
This project has inspired many individuals and organizations, both locally and further afield, to become involved in enhancing their environment. The squatter community has also benefited greatly from this association. The project won the Department of Education and Culture Environment Competition in 1991 and 1992.