The iconic Nelson Mandela Foundation has selected ChangeMakersHUB’s ‘Clanwilliam Legacy Garden’ as its Western Cape partner of choice ahead of this year’s Mandela Day.

The International Mandela Day global theme for 2022 – ‘Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are’, will see the Nelson Mandela Foundation partner with nine community gardens, one in each province.

“I cannot think of a greater honour than the support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation – the body that gives leadership and a constant voice to an icon of hope and change that inspired the world through his example,” says Michelle Korevaar, founder of ChangeMakersHUB and driver behind this project.
“For us, the ‘Clanwilliam ChangeMakers Legacy Garden’ is a clear beacon of hope, collaboration and cross-sectoral partnership,” says Sylvia Graham, Mandela Day Analyst. “We look forward to our journey with ChangemakersHUB and the community of rural Clanwilliam. The Nelson Mandela Foundation believes this garden will catalyse addressing the pressing challenge of food security while incorporating climate-smart solutions.”

Says Korevaar, “Our focus is on the development of the circular economy. As a pilot changemaking project, the goal is to create significant and sustainable value, impacting not only the environment but so too job creation and the economic growth of the community.” And, in that, the formulation of a blueprint – easily scalable and able to be shared and implemented across other deserving communities.

Launched in July 2021, as part of its ‘Impact Accelerator Programme’, the first phase called on all citizens of Clanwilliam to become changemakers themselves. This, by transforming non-recyclable waste into EcoBricks, with said EcoBricks repurposed throughout the town and in the Legacy Garden itself.

Phase 2 (June 2022) saw the planting of 2,500 spekboom plants in the Legacy Garden, transforming the space into one of rest and relaxation, complete with the opportunity for commemorative plaques to remember individuals and a time in history we should never forget. Phase 3, planned for xxx, will see the incorporation of no less than five food garden boxes and accompanying park benches – all constructed entirely from EcoBricks.

As the ‘first’ of its kind, stakeholders are confident that the ‘Clanwilliam ChangeMakers Legacy Garden’ will result in increased tourism and much-needed local revenue. Further, the use of EcoBricks, ridding the community of thousands of litres of non-recyclable plastic, and the creation of a viable and sustainable food source all dovetails into an impactful long-term solution for the betterment of all – BY the community, FOR the community!

“We need to empower communities to empower themselves,” stresses Korevaar. “It is therein, that true dignity lies!” As critical, is the bridging of real gaps. “Our efforts need to be consistent with the reality of the communities we seek to empower,” continues Korevaar.

As a non-profit organisation on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic, ChangeMakersHUB has collaborated with many changemakers in its relief efforts. “And, we have learnt so much,” says Korevaar, “about what works and does not work and the critical importance of understanding the actual needs, so present in our vulnerable communities, in order to effect true and lasting socio-economic development and change.”

“Partnerships and collaboration, across both public and private entities, are critical – without which so much less is possible,” continues Korevaar. “We see ourselves as a ‘HUB’, the centre of a circle – connecting community needs with local stakeholders and community members, other changemaker entities and ordinary citizens wanting to make a difference and effect change.”

Its recent partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation is of enormous value – further enabling ChangeMakersHUB to leverage its learnings of the last two years to continue effecting change across the Western Cape’s Cederberg region.

‘Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are’. “This is as true, EVERY day, as it is in the build up to this year’s Mandela Day,” continues Korevaar.

While 18 July remains a focal point, the intention urges people to support and participate in sustainable interventions with lasting impact. The context, of course, is a world in which inequality continues to grow and in which the destructive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed existing disparities and damaged vulnerable communities in countless ways.

“We can make a difference, wherever we are, with whatever we have – and never before has it been so needed,” stresses Korevaar.

The call to action is to do just that, and it is as broad and as inclusive as possible. Identify those in need around you and do what you can to make a difference for them.

The road we face for positive change is a journey that needs every single one of us! By doing what we can with what we have we, in turn, create ripples. These ripples, both large and small, bring the propensity for a far greater ripple and impact! One, that is large enough to turn the tide for a better tomorrow – a tomorrow in which no man, woman or child is left behind!

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