Scene 7: Helping the Community, no matter the Business Value

Scene 7: Rockland Primary SchoolBackground:

When we arrived at Blue Sky at our usual 9:45 time frame and found John, he seemed a bit flustered. He informed us that a teacher from Rockland Primary School had phoned him last night to pick up some paper because there was a fire that burned through some of the material, so the school is offering Blue Sky the rest if they will clean up. John stated that Blue Sky would not be paying her for the paper nor would she be paying them to have it taken away.


Cast of Characters: John, Zita, Julian, Jacob, Hakim, Class

Zita is a fourth grade school teacher who is incredibly passionate about recycling and proper waste disposal. Julian and Jacob are German exchange students working with the school through an organisation called SEED and they will be in South Africa for a year. SEED promotes local food production and attempts to beautify proper waste disposal and recycling by painting murals around the school. Hakim is a seventh grader introduced to us by Zita, as he was one of Zita’s students previously


As we were driving with John through Mitchell’s Plain, we passed by four other schools with children playing in the fenced-in area. John mentioned during the drive the crime and drug use that is present in the settlement. We drove up a sand dune hill without trees, having only thick scrub and sand showing near the top. Throughout Mitchell’s plain trees were few and far between. As we pulled up to the school, two of John’s employees hopped out of the truck bed and went in the front door of a pale, one story building. There was a pair of long, two-story buildings for classrooms and another for the offices. Between the office and one building is a small gardening space, which extends by the end of the administrative office. In between the two school buildings is the stone courtyard, with mosaics on the first-story walls. Once they opened the gate in front of the truck, we pulled in and were instantly surrounded by hundreds of children.




A woman came up to the truck and introduced herself as Zita, the woman who had called John about the paper. With John’s prompting, she showed us around the school and pointed out the litter pickup and the gardens around the front of the school. These programs are incredibly useful for motivating children to recycle and throw away their trash at a young age.



  • When was the recycling/waste management programme implemented at the school?
  • Who is the recycling company that generally takes their paper?
  • Do they solely work with paper or do they recycle plastic and glass as well?
  • Would it be possible for Blue Sky to solidify a partnership with the school?

Action and Observation:

When we drove through the gate, we could see hundreds of children playing and socializing out in a large, flat grassy field. The fenced-in field was adjacent to the school and the children all wore the same maroon jumpers with two thin yellow stripes. Many had brightly coloured bags of crisps or popsicles in their hands as they scampered between their classmates. We inched slowly through the fast moving throngs of kids and spun, parking the truck facing towards the gate for better access to the trailer. Zita pointed out the recycling bins to John where the main metal one was a meter and a half tall cylindrical bin with a two-meter diameter width. Other green recycling bins were aligned to the right of the metal container, and all were chock-full of cardboard and papers. The workers and John began sorting the recyclable materials from the non-recyclables.


Zita beckoned us over and we began to talk about the context of our work with Blue Sky and why we were curious about their recycling system. She told us that the children made fun of her, calling her the “Garden Lady” and mocking her when she would ask them to pick up a piece of trash. She explained her background to us, sharing that her father was vehement about having a clean house and always picking up after herself. Zita quoted the schoolchildren, saying, “Africa is a dirty country, why must we clean?” and shook her head in disgust. She is extremely passionate about the environment and she does not understand why the children feel this way about their country. She began to tell us about two German exchange students who are working with SEED, explaining that the eye-catching murals and wood-framed garbage cans were a result of their work. She exclaimed with surprise and rushed over to a boy in a grey shirt, catching his arm and pulling him over. Zita introduced us to Jacob, one of the boys working with SEED. He was friendly and very good at English, elaborating on their mission. Jacob said that he and Julian were two months into their yearlong stay. Soon after Jacob began talking, Julian appeared next to him and listened to Jacob discuss their work. Twice a week, they arrange for the classes to end early so they can break them up into teams and have a competition for who can clean the courtyard and recess field fast enough. Jacob explained that making the cleaning into a game made the idea more appealing to the children and more were willing to participate.


A piercing siren went off, indicating that recess was over. The SEED gentlemen excused themselves, Zita corralled her children, and she invited us up to come meet her students. Along the way, we walked through the stone courtyard with tiled mosaics lining the outer walls. Zita explained to us that she had collected tiles from many different stores in Cape Town and with the children, created these different works of art. One depicted a bear and two pelicans, another had a smiling girl with the caption “I have AIDS, you can still hug me”, while one more had the slogan “Push life, not drugs”. These positive messages were imagined by Zita and with the help of every single student, implemented a few years ago. A young boy walked by us and he waved at her. She introduced us to Hakim; a seventh grader who had been a former student of hers and had started his garden. She asked him how his vegetables were doing and he told us about his carrots and how his cabbage was as big as his arms stretched out like he was giving someone a hug. Zita laughed with delight and sent him on his way and continued to her students.

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We followed Zita and her class up the stairs, marvelling at the mural on the stairwell that had depicted animals and people together. In the corner, there was a small green garbage can with the word Zibi on it. Zibi is the mascot of the city’s Waste Wise programme that works to spread the knowledge about recycling and proper waste management through education. When we made it to Zita’s classroom, we introduced ourselves to her class of roughly thirty-five students. They all gasped in awe as we mentioned that we were from America and whispered excitedly. Kelsey asked them a few questions and they answered enthusiastically that they love to recycle, they bring their recyclables from home into school, and they throw waste away when they see it on the ground. Zita’s classroom had many buckets which a different recyclable labeled on each one, including plastic, paper, and compost.


After we left her classroom, she excused herself to teach her class but she invited us to go look at their gardens that were in front of the school. As we walked back down the stairs, we reflected on the mural once more as we made our way to the gardens. It was obvious that a lot of work had been put into the sprawling green lawns as many signs dotted the area, each labeling a different plant. We made our way back to the Blue Sky workers who were loading the truck and left soon after.

Reflection and Learning:

The enthusiasm of Zita and SEED paired together made for a very powerful force and this will fuel the programme through the upcoming years. It is important to add incentives and competition to make children more enthusiastic about recycling and waste disposal. Although it may seem like a snail-paced process, specific individuals can make a huge difference in a school of over 800 students.


Once again, we saw Blue Sky’s social nature overcome its business nature as John decided to pick up the papers for Zita even though she usually calls another company. This shows the goodness of the programme and how important social relationships are to John.

Notes for Future Scenes: 

Being able to chat with SEED about their programme was so helpful and hopefully we will be able to talk with other programmes such as TrashBack, which is a programme that implements technological advances to streamline the recycling process. We hope to be able to give Blue Sky a wide variety of options for their future business endeavours.

SEED had a truck that was parked in the courtyard of the school and had been there for a few months. The windows were smashed, the tires and hubcaps were gone, and the truck was generally out of commission. To us, this symbolized a blatant disregard for what SEED was attempting to do and that no matter how much they try to make a change, there will still be some people who will attempt to halt this progress.