Saturday morning came - and so did the rain, which had been falling, non-stop, throughout the early hours of the morning, with no end in sight.  After weeks of preparation and planning, expectation and enthusiasm, our clean-up project with the NALA Street Sweepers was about to be swept away by the rain.

The NALA Street Sweepers are a group of about 80 unemployed volunteers who help clean up their community in Orange Farm, Gauteng. The day was meant to be super-special because it was the organisation’s first birthday, and Greenpeace Africa planned to celebrate with them by contributing positively to the well-being of their local environment.

The previous day, on Friday, we were met at our offices with a welcome surprise by Sasha from The Gogo Trust, a network of grannies who knit beanies for worthy causes. Sasha heard about the Greenpeace Johannesburg volunteers’ clean-up, and very kindly came by the Greenpeace office to hand over some colourful, unique, and warm beanies for the volunteers - in preparation for the cold front that was expected for the next day.  

The Greenpeace volunteers arrived at the meeting point on Saturday morning - some soaking, others shivering - after braving the cold and the rain. Despite the weather, and after the volunteers had some warm coffee and received their new beanies, the mood was upbeat, enthusiastic and inspired.

And then a gift from the Earth: The rain stopped and the skies cleared!

About 50 Kilometres from Johannesburg, Orange Farm is home to about 1 million people. The township suffers from a lack of service delivery coupled with high poverty rates. The figures differ, but it is estimated that between 40% – 55% of the population is unemployed.

And this is why the NALA initiative is so important for the community. It keeps people active in a positive way, and encourages networks to be built among local people, as well as with people from other organisations.

The Greenpeace volunteers, suited up in their orange Greenpeace overalls and with their warm beanies on, joined the NALA volunteers and got to work, cleaning up until the garbage bags were finished. Job done!

Before leaving the clean-up site to have a well-deserved lunch, the volunteers from both organisations took some photos together – a clean green field in the background, the feeling of victory in the air!

Contact The NALA Street Sweepers here:

See the rest of the pics from the day in our Facebook album.