On 22 September 2016, the final 750 of 1,000 trees were planted by Food & Trees for Africa in the Mahube Valley in Mamelodi East. The tree planting ceremony is part of the 100 wishes, 1000 trees Ackermans Ububele campaign which the value retailer has undertaken in their centenary year.
Says Hanifa Jassiem, CSI spokesperson at Ackermans: “We wanted to do something special for our 100 year celebration and so we focused our CSI campaign for 2016 on bringing sustainable differences to our environment. We partnered with Food & Trees for Africa on their Trees for Homes and Trees for All programmes which, through simply planting as many trees as possible, where they are most needed, helps to transform communities into healthier, more sustainable environments. Food & Trees for Africa helped us choose fruit and indigenous shade trees that are well suited to being grown in the area, and will withstand harsh environmental conditions and lack of water.”
Says Emily Jones, Trees and Carbon Programme Manager at Food & Trees for Africa: “In the Mahube Valley, we worked with the community, schools and Ward Councillors to identify homes that received trees. Each community member received 1 indigenous shade tree and 1 fruit tree.
Work opportunities have also been created for fifteen unemployed community members who have been trained as Community Educators (CE’s) in the Trees for Homes Programme. A further 250 trees have been planted in Cape Town throughout September under the Trees for All programme and focused on schools, community centres and other shared spaces.”
The trees are not just pretty. They assist in regenerating and rehabilitating environments; improving air quality; providing shade, fruit and nuts; creating a habitat for wildlife and increasing biodiversity whilst also decreasing noise pollution, settling dust, improving thermal efficiency and increasing the value of houses and buildings.
The wishes element of the project is Ackermans employee-based. Fifty teams have been formed and each team sources 2 wishes that they wish to grant (tree planting may be included as part of a wish). Ackermans provides each team with a budget to grant these wishes; however, teams often go above and beyond to partner with other companies or individuals to generate sponsorship or funding.
Little Wonders Educare Centre in Kraaifontein is one of the recipients of a granted wish.
Says Apostle Douglas Bell, who runs the centre: “We provide educare for between thirty and sixty-five children from 3 months to 6.5 years old. The centre provides an essential service to the community – who need somewhere safe for their children to go whilst they are at work. We are under constant financial strain, and cannot thank Ackermans enough for the transformation that they have achieved in this school”.
Two of the fifty Ackermans teams joined forces for the Little Wonders initiative. Fourty-four staff members across a range of designations got involved in, and physically helped with, the interior and exterior revamp.
The interior was painted, along with the installation of vibrant wall decorations and murals. General repairs were done where needed, stationary was topped up, and cots were provided.
For the exterior the teams provided a vibracrete boundary wall, and turned the area into a fun child friendly play area, with jungle gym and sandpit and a reading zone under a mature tree.
“The most remarkable aspect of this transformation for me was that the people themselves arrived and dug their hands in. This was not just throwing money at a challenge, this was becoming involved in the solution” says Apostle Bell.
Concludes Jassiem: “Ackermans Ububele has grown tremendously over the last four years and has become an important part of the company culture. It gives every employee the opportunity, platform and support to get involved with something remarkable outside of their daily work lives. The 100 wishes, 1,000 trees campaign brings real value to the lives of our employees and every beneficiary. The one thousandth tree will be planted at our Head Office to signify the completion of a circle of giving that we hope leaves a lasting legacy for both the communities and staff that it touches.”
For more information on this, and other Ububele projects, visit: http://www.ackermans.co.za/CSI