Soraya Salie’s garden is not only a place of tranquillity, but an internationally recognised peace garden amid the violence in her suburb. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - Her garden is not only a place of tranquillity, but an internationally recognised peace garden amid the violence in her suburb.

Soraya Salie from Bonteheuwel has received numerous awards for her peace-building efforts in communities and she is now the subject of a documentary on international television channel CNN.

Salie, who is also the founder of the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, said CNN had featured her in a documentary about home gardening.

“It was very exciting,” she said.

Salie is also actively involved in peace building in communities by growing peace gardens. She said they mainly grew sunflowers which symbolise peace.

For three years she has won awards for peace building in communities from the International Peace Group.

In 2016 she also won the Muslim Women at the Intersections of Violence Contextualizing Poverty and Terror award from the International Peace College of South Africa (IPSA).

“With there being such a lot of crime and violence in our communities, we want more peace gardens. We realised that our communities are traumatised and plagued by gangsterism, drugs and poverty.

“Last year we planted sunflowers and laid stones in memory of all the young people who died in gang violence at Bonteheuwel High School.

“When we planted the garden the pupils at the school cried, because they were reminded of their classmates who were killed. Four pupils of the school were shot last year."

Pupils also painted the stones of the 60 peace gardens in Bonteheuwel yellow, which means peace.

“It was such an emotional moment for them. But they also found healing in it, because they got to talk about the violence and trauma they experienced, especially for the mothers who also lost their children in gang violence. Because if your child was killed in gang violence, people expect you just to move on.

“A lot of people don’t even go for counselling to deal with the trauma. Currently we have 60 peace gardens in Bonteheuwel to spread peace.

“Children should also be taught at a young age not to be violent but to build peace,” she said.

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Cape Argus