What Works? Successes in Surprising Places

Despite the challenges faced in the Mandela Park Facility, some things seem to work well. The facility is standing and operational after construction finished just under two years ago. The caretakers’ dedication to continue keeping the facility clean and functioning despite currently working without pay is truly remarkable. Furthermore, community members do strive to improve the facility when they have the opportunity. With the financial support of WPI, some bigger changes are now noticeable including a newly painted interior and exterior to increase aesthetic appeal, new locks to the showers and caretaker’s office, shelves for the library, and educational posters for the aftercare programme (personal observations). Other assistance from Touching the Earth Lightly, another NGO who works closely with the construction aspect and environmental impact of the WaSH-UP programme, led to window planters to grow vegetables able to be sold to help fund the facility. Most impressively was the community’s initial commitment to the vegetable project, which allowed them to make enough money to buy their own padlocks for the windows (Sizwe Mxobo, personal communication).There are other instances of community initiative for improving the facility and expanding its usage. In one case, the community started a post office in the facility. One community member would go to town and collect post for Langrug to bring to the facility, sparing others the long walk to town. This system worked very well until the post office refused to give mail to the community member designated to obtain it when some school reports went missing (personal communication, Scott Jiusto and Alfred). Another case was the HIV/AIDS support group started by another community member, Siyanda. The group met twice a week for a couple of years and was successful at providing a place to talk about the struggles of HIV/AIDS, a common disease in Langrug, for both infected and those affected by their loved ones with the virus. Although this project was successful for a few years, it faded away due to the absence of the community member who started it, but there has been recent motivation to restart the group (personal communication, Siyanda). Additionally, approximately six members of the community came together to start a small savings group. While they struggled to get new members and achieve success with community projects, they have been able to save a small amount and are making forward strides towards becoming a fully functioning savings group (personal communication, Sizwe Mxobo, See WaSH-Business).Additionally, some of the programmes recently created, such as the aftercare, the library, and the kiosk have shown significant potential. The operations manuals for the aftercare and library were collaboratively drafted and the supplies are in place for a successful programme. There was resistance from the community in the actual implementation phase of the programmes initially. The initiative and motivation for this crucial step was inconsistent throughout the project. Most recently though the aftercare programme, with help from a local crèche principal who is also a community leader and has worked closely with WPI, has gained momentum to operate successfully. We remain optimistic that the programmes will run somewhat successfully, although not exactly as written in the manuals, and we hope they can be sustained for years to come. An ongoing conversation of discussing opinions and suggesting changes between all stakeholders will hopefully contribute to sustaining the programmes.