Press Release | May 6, 2019
The United States Embassy held a clean-up at the Colbyn Valley Nature Area on Saturday, May 4. U.S. Embassy officials worked side-by-side with alumni from U.S.-funded exchange programs and residents of Lerato House, a transitional residential facility for young girls at-risk in the Pretoria city center. The clean-up was followed by a mentorship picnic which offered residents an opportunity to ask questions about the United States and allowed alumni to share their experiences in the United States with the group of 18 girls.
Representatives from Friends of Colbyn Valley, a community group which raises awareness of wetlands and wetland conservation in the Pretoria area, explained the role wetlands play in protecting water quality and the ecosystem. MJ, a resident of Lerato House, said the day brought her back to nature and to biology class. “I hope we get to do this again…this area acts like a filter, and now we understand why clean-ups like this are important for the environment and this area,” she said. For Ogaufi Mampane, an alumna of the Young African Leaders Initiative – Mandela Washington Fellowship, the opportunity to mentor youth was a humbling experience. “It was a reminder that we all have something to give, no matter how minuscule it might appear to us.”
Cultural Affairs Officer Maureen Mimnaugh headed the clean-up and said the United States shares the global concern regarding species conservation and emphasized that regular clean-ups help to protect the habitat of species. “We believe that encouraging alumni of United States Government-funded programs and the next generation of youth leaders to become environmental ambassadors can have a ripple effect, inspiring the country’s youth to actively reduce, reuse, and recycle – all in an effort to protect nature areas and indigenous species,” she said.
The Embassy also partnered with the City of Tshwane, who provided plastic bags and the waste removal for this initiative.