Community “sub-centres” are being planned and built, including businesses, that create employment opportunities, and open, public places and schools for sports and recreation. Residents will be involved in upgrading their areas. A Social Development Fund will be used to upgrade the general environment, such as street lights and sidewalks. Regular organized cultural and social events are planned to contribute to a sense of community and togetherness.
I’d encourage you to view the video above as I could never do her and the project justice but in case you can’t here are some of the key learnings for me:
- Any social change requires real effort
- The primary motivations for the ladies to participate is improving their home and job prospects, eg getting training and a driver’s license, they choose not to pay them to make sure that theyre committed
- They used focus groups to choose where to pilot first (see community map in image gallery above)
- Solutions need to be holistic but are dependent on growing pride in the community (or solutions will not last)
- This is linked to giving the communities dignity, whether from introducing house numbering or simply planting nice flowers
- Strength comes from community rather than individuals
- They recruit from the community as the volunteers then have the convening power
- Women can make a huge difference themselves but they need to be supported with childcare – VPUU colocates crèches with centres
I asked what words of advice Ntutu would have for those embarking on similar projects in Asia:
- Nurture your environment, combine small things to create real change
- Physical and social development is needed - beauty of streets and houses are meaningless without beauty of heart
- Together you can make it, nothing is impossible
What did I miss? What did you learn from Ntutu?
How might her and VPUU's approach be adapted for the local context in different Asian informal settlements?
And check out my further interviews with 2 community patrollers with VPUU