A Marondera widow, grandmother and environmentalist, Elizabeth Chigada Gundu is determined to keep litter at bay in her community by employing her artistic expertise to add value to improperly disposed waste materials.
She designs handmade caps and bags from litter.
Elizabeth Chigada Gundu founded Clean Marondera in 2013, a non-profit organization that has become the vanguard for an environment-friendly Mashonaland East provincial capital.
“I am the founder of this non-profit-making organisation; Clean Marondera. It is a community-based voluntary organisation that focuses on waste management, recycling and environmental protection.
“We also offer free education and training to community members, and we are apolitical,” she said.
Popularly known as Gogo Vemunhu Wese, the senior citizen reminisces former years when Marondera was the beacon of cleanliness in the country.
She lamented the huge population influx into the farming town as the possible cause of the now poor waste management standards.
Municipality of Marondera, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Proton Bakers, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), Nyaradzo Group and Surrey Group are some of the stakeholders that Gogo Gundu works with.
“Clean Marondera leads from the front in Marondera clean-up campaigns,” she added.
Initially, she would burn the rubbish that included packaging and container boxes until a friend introduced her to the sale of waste.
Spurred by Gondo Gundu’s determination, Marondera Town Council liaised with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and availed a proper working place for her to operate from.
To date, Clean Marondera utilises waste, making an impressive assortment of products such as hats, dresses, shoes and bags among others.
The Clean Marondera founder is grateful for the support she receives from the locals, although they initially labelled her as insane due to her voluntary waste management efforts.
Gogo Gundu also acknowledges the dedication and teamwork exhibited by Clean Marondera‘s voluntary members as they embark on door-to-waste management campaigns, and community clean-up campaigns, while also educating organisations and schools on how to manage waste using available resources.
Social media and ZTV are some of the platforms used by Clean Marondera to empower the broader community in and out of Zimbabwe on sustainable waste management.
“We reduce litter in communities by collecting and separating garbage before value addition (making various assortments of products such as hats and bags from waste papery).
“We also sell waste, which has enabled me and my partners to bring food to the table and send our children to school. I am very passionate about this. We do not make much through this but I am satisfied because the organization plays its part in keeping Marondera clean,” she added.
Clean Marondera yearns to operate on a large scale once it acquires the needed machines including proper business structures for proper waste disposal.
Prodairy and Ruzawi Secondary School are some of Clean Marondera‘s major customers.
A recycling machine is Clean Marondera‘s major need for the easy pelletization of plastic waste. One machine for making plastic pipes and bin liners will also come in handy to support this worthy initiative.
The organization processes over 110 tons of waste a month presenting a transport challenge for these determined “waste brigades”.