Thando Tema from Alexandra in Gauteng is interested in both sustainability and youth development. He is renowned in his community for making the area safer for schoolchildren by servicing a local bus stop in a sustainable, educational way.
Tema studied engineering and related design at Central Johannesburg TVET College. He has always been community-minded; he owned his own food stall, and took great care to ensure that his products were affordably priced.
He believes in an asset-based community approach, using what is already available in his area. After noting a lack of seating and safety at a local bus stop, he embarked on an ongoing project to service this high-traffic area. He sources old school chairs and tyres and has repurposed them to create seating for daily use by more than 300 children and local informal traders.
Through this initiative, Tema has been able to engage with the children in his community about the importance of sustainability, highlighting the benefits of redirecting unwanted items from landfills. “I teach them [about] the factors that affect our environment, and the benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling,” Tema says.
He has created back yard gardens and nurseries, which attract villagers and inspire conversation, especially among young children. “One can start teaching at an early age,” he says. “To teach South Africans about our natural environment is to teach sustainability.”
Going forward, Tema is keen to continue to spread information on the greening, recycling and manufacturing of reusable materials among locals with his hands-on approach. He hopes to draw attention to the need to reduce landfill waste in particular. “Our land has so much waste we cannot handle,” he says. “Learning to care for our natural environment is essential.”
To teach South Africans about out natural environmental is to teach sustainability