The beacon of hope for Umlazi, unpacking hidden treasures from trash

Londi, right, with some of the staff members at the site

When driving by or walking past Qhilika High School in Umlazi Township’s H-Section, just below the reservoir, one cannot miss a large signage overlooking the road with a message “You see trash, I see treasure”. This signage is on the entrance of a passage leading to a spacious community-recycling centre of Isphepho Ambassadors. The centre was opened on 13 May 2021. Isiphepho is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to keep the townships clean by working with its citizens and other stakeholders in collecting all kinds of refuse and dealing with it in a manner that will benefit everyone.

The organisation conducts waste management awareness in schools and the community, undertakes recycling collections and clean up campaigns, community collectors’ empowerment drives, illegal dumps rehabilitation, and also undertakes an ”Adopt a river” programme. The project is managed by a 35-ambassador group that comprises of mostly unemployed graduates from disciplines such as IT, Public Management, Agriculture, Nature Conservation, Environmental Health, Speech and Drama from MUT, UKZN, DUT, and UNISA; with majority members being graduates from MUT. It also received other resources like bins, recycling trailer, plastic bags, bulk bags, a 12-metre storage container from PETCO and Safripol.

The station is where waste is prepared for recycling. The founder of the organisation, Londi Mbuyisa, senior lecturer in the department of Nature Conservation said the main beneficiary should be the environment. Londi added that the project will revive the township economy. She believes that if people look after the environment, the environment will look after them. Londi describes the project as “a pride of the University”. The project has received both local and national recognition, as it is historical for Umlazi community. Waste is collected around the township and brought to the site where it is separated accordingly.