Wasteland – Graced Land

We are currently running a crowd funding campaign to support the development of a craft centre in the community of Melkhoutfontein, South Africa. The project will reuse waste and recycling innovatively, to create crafts for the tourist market and items of functional use in the local communities. The craft centre is part of the Wasteland-Graced land job creation -and entrepreneurship programme.

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Going truly local in Melkhoutfontein

The Dreamcatcher crew has been working for 10 years on a multi-faceted project called Wasteland-Graced Land with the community of Melkhoutfontein. Situated in the Hessequa region, Western Cape region of South Africa they had evolved into recurring poverty, unemployment and lack of access to opportunities to improve quality of life where they could thrive. The historical developments, which lead to these circumstances, caused the community to evolve from aspirations for a better life into deep-seated levels of unrealized despair and frustration. It was time for change.

Dreamcatcher had been involved with 4 women in the community to realise their dreams of tourism entrepreneurship. Members of the community saw the benefits of the pioneering ‘CookUp and Homestays with Kamamma project’. In 2006, the first steps were collectively taken to roll out a new “poverty relief way” for Melkhoutfontein.

The aim was to disrupt orthodox monistically driven socio-economic development models, and pioneer a more pluralistic model of development with the deliberate goal to build an economic and social development mode for Melkhoutfontein, which could contribute to the greater good of the local community in general and society at large. To find another way that works for sustainable poverty relief.

The ‘Wasteland – Graced Land’ model is geared to provide solutions to local problems, using local resources as far as possible to create sustainable work. This would in turn strengthen the local economy, provide diversity in work, career opportunities and contribute towards income sufficiency for residents living on low income.

A cornerstone of the project is to clean up and regenerate the local environment (with the community living between 2 waste dump sites), and pioneer re-use of local waste resources, adding value to their environment and developing a sustainable local economy.

Intrinsic to the model, is development (which includes skills transfer and training), promotion of sustainable enterprises, local manufacturing and recognition of the rich and significant culture and history of the residents of Melkhoutfontein, develop Melkhoutfontein into new tourism visitor destination in South Africa.

After 10 years in development, Wasteland – Graced Land initiative concretely turns the UN Sustainable Development Goals from aspiration into impactful outcomes. It provides a local solution to a local problem, promotes a sustainable circular economy and significantly, the model is leading to the production of local crafts by local people, proudly offering a ‘made in South Africa’ product, changing over from consumers to manufacturers and enterprises.

Wasteland – Graced Land is blending tourism and environmental sustainability with helpfulness, introducing a new, meaningful tourist visitor destination, with the chance for visitors to engage and get involved with the locals to innovate and create together locally. It also has high potential of duplication in other communities, recognised as a blueprint for local enterprise development, and recently cited as a case study with high attributes to inspire entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship, to be included into the school entrepreneur curricula by South African curriculum planners.

Highlights of Dreamcatcher’s evolving Wasteland-Graced Land project

  • Established the Dreamcatcher office in Melkhoutfontein, Hessequa South Africa, on an informal waste site, also home to the historic St. Augustine’s church, and cleaned up the surrounding area from a declared invader shrub specie Acacia Cyclops, while working with local community members most in need (women and youth).
  • Expanded the Cook-Up with Kamamma and Homestays with Kamamma, branded) tourism enterprises from 4 to10 entrepreneurs, offering accommodation and meals, while promoting the ” Go truly Local’ local engagement experience.
  • Established the La Bloemen botanical garden on a former informal waste dumpsite, to reintroduce indigenous plant -and wildlife species into the once-thriving area, which had been decimated by household waste and invader plant specie.
  • Restored the historic St. Augustine’s church now evolving into a Centre for Arts and Humanities.
  • Planned and initiated the promotion and awakening of communities rich cultural heritage through the ongoing PaintUp with Kamamma project that beautifies 350 neighborhood homes through artistic representations of the history and lifestyle of the Melkhoutfontein people. In this the community is joined by visitors from around the world who come to paint alongside them on the “Global Artists in Residence project which has been established.
  • Delivered waste management training and education to leaders in the community, and educated residents about waste’s impact on health and environment.
  • We have worked with international experts, the University of Brighton, UK., in waste management and product design. Working on the projects for a number of years with them, we have established process, using recycled waste to turning it into and an income-generating initiative that uses byproducts to develop and manufacture trendy, useful crafts for sale to visitors and locals.
  • Finally after 10 years! We are ready to move into the project completion phase to build the purposed craft-making factory. Extensive community engagement -and research has taken place over many years to reach this stage. The first recruited youth and local residents have signed up. This factory, which will include an environmental training room, will employ and empower many of the area’s most economically deprived, particularly the women and youth and the local school is involved.
  • Wasteland – Graced Land is creating an appealing, lasting solution to local unemployment through waste management; promotes ongoing resource and knowledge sharing between locals, visitors, universities and education facilities, and serves as a development model others can learn from in the future. It has become a sought after tourist destination in its own right in South Africa.

So, what now?

Social enterprise development through social engagement and support is possible, if we deliberately join hands locally and globally on the10 year plan. Let us lead the way to ‘real, lasting poverty relief. One where the end result was in the plan from the start: An end to Aid with out End where co-involvement to grow the local economy brings lasting, sustainable changes!. Let us engage the future together. Join us today!

  • Contact us today to sign up to get involved, to add a visit to the Wasteland – Gracedland in Melkhoutfontein to your next trip to South Africa. You can Paint, Plant; help gather Materials for Craft Product. Become part of the miracle which is unfolding with each visitor turning a waste land into a graced land in the community of Melkhoutfontein!
  • We need financial help in this final step to construct the craft development and visitor centre. Support our crowd funding campaign to support the development of a craft centre in the community of Melkhoutfontein, South Africa.

More information about this project