Pro-active residents of Manenberg have taken the initiative to start changing the way people think about the area. The Proudly Manenberg campaign was started by a group of residents, including former political activists from the area.
The group, which started about four years ago, called themselves the Manenberg Education and Development Trust and invested a portion of their salaries into a bank account. Six matriculants were awarded R10 000 bursaries each at the end of last year from the fund.
The murder of a Manenberg school boy in July last year persuaded the trust to rethink its strategy and it then linked up with former learners, educators, business people and entrepreneurs to establish the Proudly Manenberg project."
When Cheslyn (a pupil) was killed near his school last year, we decided that we should not only focus on giving bursaries to school children, but also to help rebuild the community," says Mario Wanza, chairperson of Proudly Manenberg.
The project's motto is: "Building a vibrant, proud and dignified Manenberg through creating opportunities".
"We started consultation with stakeholders in the community and Proudly Manenberg was born out of that," Wanza explains.
The group established sectors to focus on sport, arts and culture, faith, education, health, safety, environment, business and youth.
Two representatives from the sectors were appointed to form part of the executive of Proudly Manenberg.
"With our structure in place, we consulted with people in the area about what their problems are. We want to emphasise that the ownership of Proudly Manenberg rests with the people and this is not a 'handout' project," Wanza says.
The project's secretary, Amelia September, says that although there is increasing support for Proudly Manenberg, the morale among residents is still low.
"We need the community's support to help change the image of Manenberg. We have entered into partnerships with Old Mutual and local businesses. We need the community to take ownership of their area," September said.
The next big function is planned for 16 June, when Proudly Manenberg hopes to get schools and local business involved in the initiative.
People who wish to get involved in the project can phone September on 082 404 5659.