At the Junior Chamber International (JCI) City presentation meeting, the Fix-up Greenwood Park project proposal was lauded as an impressive and ambitious project. And ambitious it is. The objective? “To transform Greenwood Park and increase the levels of use, physical activity, overall health and wellbeing of the community,” said Qhelile Ndlovu who is currently heading up the project. She was frank about the amount of time, money and hard team work it will take to make this a reality.
Greenwood Park is one of Harare’s city parks. Nested in the heart of the Avenues, it was envisioned to be a bustling community park for children and adults alike; but due to lack of maintenance the park has deteriorated. Regardless of this, some of the communities that surround Greenwood Park still use it. Work out groups, walkers, runners, picnickers, children and students studying still find solace in its naturistic feel in the middle of a busy city. It’s easy to see how this park is important to the health of its community. A perfect challenge for JCI City, whose mission is to empower young people to create positive change in their communities.
The project was launched with a volunteer driven clean up on Saturday the 13th of February 2016. The team started by picking up and discarding litter from the Five Avenue Shopping Centre and surrounding areas, making their way up to Greenwood Park. The team then spread out around the park area doing the same and even digging up litter in some cases. The challenge was enthusiastically met by the team of over 75 volunteers rallied through JCI City. The crew of young people drew attention in their lime green regalia and white gloves. The atmosphere smelled of determination, this is a project that these young people believe in.
The day ended with a downpour of rain and a vote of thanks from partners; “it seems like our hope and dream for Greenwood Park could actually become a reality,” said an emotional Sharon Hook, the Founder of Miracle Missions which partnered with JCI City for the Valentine-themed Clean-up. Other partners present were Mary Wazara of Maritime Plastics, a manufacturer of soft plastics from recycled waste, Patricia Mukudu, the superintendent of Harare City Works’ Cleansing Department; Mega Pak, which sponsored 12 color-coded bins for the recycling stations, SWIFT, which availed a truck and 5 young men to remove over 100 bags of collected waste; Simbisa Brands, which provided cool drinks for volunteers in addition to availing 3 energetic young men to participate, while OK Fife Avenue availed 2 of their staff for the clean-up.
In her presentation Qhelile mentioned five key areas that would help make this restoration project a success. Together with the city council, the Fix-Up Greenwood Park team came up with a plan that would span over the course of one year at a budget of about $60,000. Their first goal, which is already under way, would be cleaning the park through volunteer driven campaigns such as the one held on Saturday and installing waste bins and a recycle cage. Secondly, some of the parks watering systems need repair so the Greenwood Park can truly live up to its name. The biggest tasks would involve resurfacing the parks walkways, rehabilitating the children’s play area and making the park more secure by fencing it. One of team’s strategies is to not only approach sponsors who will help out financially but also consider organizations with the raw materials and tools that can be used to rebuild the park. An important element to “rehabilitating” Greenwood Park would be supporting some of the community needs by installing workout stations, study stations and a stage area for entertainment. Lastly they felt it important to help the community come up with a plan to sustain the park and keep it well maintained. Some of the ideas include setting up wifi zones, putting up health food facilities, an outdoor movie theatre and developing a mobile app to manage park volunteers and activities. Upon completion of the project the park responsibilities will be officially handed over to the residents committee.
Greenwood Park is one of many parks in Harare that reminds it’s residents how important nature preservation is. Where else in the middle of a concrete jungle can someone escape for a moment to the sounds of trees dancing to the rhythm of the wind, birds singing and fresh air. It is evident this ambitious project is well worth the time and effort.
Founded in 1992, JCI City was affiliated to JCI Zimbabwe in 1993. The organisation was mainly formed by Ex- AISEC members from the University of Zimbabwe. Over the years, JCI City has spearheaded various projects, including the establishment of the First street Mall in the City of Harare, creation of the Traffic Safety Council, Junior Councils and the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Program. JCI undertakes projects through the Active Citizens Framework (ACF), a patent road map that entails a thorough diagnosis of problems affecting our society, design of sustainable solutions and the involvement of key partners.