Westlake garden grows on community

Cynthia Isaacs and the children from Jabulani Creche plant flowers in the road reserve in Westlake.

A community garden at the entrance of Westlake is having a ripple effect in the area.

The project was started by Cynthia Isaacs, the principal of Jabulani Day Care, as a memorial for Franziska Blöchliger who was killed in Tokai forest in March.

“The murder of Franziska saddened the whole community, especially because the children involved were from our area,” Ms Isaacs said, referring to the three men accused of the murder.

“I felt, we have to do something. I wanted to do something extraordinary and this idea came to me. An innocent girl’s life was taken. Her life ended but her memory went on.”

Ms Isaacs and her husband, Roland, started cleaning the road reserve, which had been strewn with litter, refacing the area and planting flowers and trees.

The couple included the crèche children in the gardening and taught them about protecting the environment and different kinds of plants and soon the project gained momentum.

Community members and residents from surrounding areas came on board with helping hands or donated plants, potting soil and compost.

“The response from the community was so amazing,” Ms Isaacs said.

“People were saying; ‘The tik koppe will destroy it’. But nobody did and now the Westlake entrance is so beautiful.”

The initiative also left an impact on the children.

“Parents have come back and said their children said ‘Mommy and daddy must also make a garden now.’ It affects the whole community,” Ms Isaacs said.

Buoyed by the success of the project, Ms Isaacs hoped to roll it out further in Westlake by slowly landscaping the road reserve with donated plants and painting the bleak grey walls with murals.

When the Bulletin spoke to Ms Isaacs last week, she said: “I think we can do much better. If we get more support we can plant more gardens. By doing something small we can make a big difference. Maybe someone can sponsor us with paint so that we can paint these walls and make it much better. We want to brighten up the community. We don’t just have to accept things the way it is. We can do something to make a change.”

Unbeknown to Ms Isaacs, her prayer was already being answered. Word about what she was doing had spread and on Nelson Mandela Day, Monday July 18, donations of plants and paint poured in. As a result, a large section of the wall at the entrance to Westlake has been painted and decorated with graffiti art. The Isaacses and the children from Jabulani Day Care spent the day planting trees and flowers along the road reserve.

“We are so happy,” Ms Isaacs said. “There’s so much more that needs to be done. We want to make it colourful. We started something and we want to finish it.”