Crispin Hemson, Director of the International Centre of Nonviolence (ICON), and a group of student leaders from DUT’s Durban Leadership Programme are helping to create a peace forest in the Lindelani community.
The Lindelani community through a local activist, Sibusiso Xaba, reached out to ICON. The peace forest project started in April 2018 and will continue for a period of six months. There are very few peace gardens known to be around the world. This would be the first that would be developed by ICON.
“The intention is to address both the environmental issues related to forests (such as pollution, litter, invasive vegetation, erosion) and the human issues (lack of access, criminal behaviour, inappropriate uses) and thus to create a place that is a sanctuary for both people and nature,” said Hemson.
Hemson added that the project is estimated to take some time, as there are many different dimensions to be considered such as- the forest itself and the water that runs through it, the related issues of peace in the community, food production nearby, the education of learners at local schools, and the history of the area.
On Saturday (2 June 2018), a group from DUT’s Durban Leadership Programme went to focus on the food gardens. Since the start of the project, local people have been encouraged to grow a much bigger area. Coral Vinsen, an 86-year-old activist, is now part of the project and provides guidance on the best methods of planting and care.
Sakhile Mlambo, a participant from DUT’s Durban Leadership Programme, who also knows the area well, said, ‘I think this is a wonderful programme for both students and the Lindelani community. It enhances their knowledge building, while providing the community with ideas that will bring about change and create togetherness amongst them. The community is able to share their concerns and problems with us.”
He further explained that the programme is divided into groups dealing with education, health, a media group, forest group, water group and a history group. He said that all the groups played a vital role in Lindelani in terms of assisting it and alleviating problems.
Pictured: Students helping to build the peace garden in the Lindelani community.