Participants in the Garden of Hope and Healing display the bottles needed for the project, as well as some of the completed flowers. They are, from left, Nokuthula Cele and Nomfundo Ngcobo of the Sydenham Community Resource Centre, Sandile Myeni of Durban Botanic Gardens and Dawn Haddon of the Sydenham Community Resource Centre. Picture: Publicity Matters

Plastic bottles are needed for an art project that will take place in the Durban Botanic Gardens to mark the start of 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children, that runs from November 25 to December 10.

You can drop off empty, cleaned bottles at either of two collection points – the Visitors’ Centre in the gardens or at Diakonia Council of Churches in Diakonia Avenue in the CBD.

The bottles will be transformed into “flowers” to be “planted” in the specially-created Garden of Hope and Healing at the Gardens for the duration of the 16-day campaign. Each flower will honour a victim or a survivor of abuse, or be a visual pledge of working towards a world without rape and violence.

The Garden of Hope and Healing is a collaboration between eThekwini Municipality’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture (PRC), working with Diakonia Council of Church’s Thursdays in Black Campaign, Sydenham Resource Centre, Durban Botanic Gardens, PRC Men’s Forum and various like-minded NGOs.

The flowers will all be made from waste plastic – sending out a strong recycling message that discarded waste can be transformed into something of beauty and value.

A series of workshops will be hosted by the Sydenham Resource Centre in the lead-up to the campaign.

There will also be flower-making workshops at Durban Botanic Gardens for the duration of the 16-day campaign. The public is welcome to participate in the flower-making workshops and contribute flowers to the garden. Workshops for large groups, corporates and NGOs can be run on request.

As part of the project, there will be an exhibition and resource material, offering information and support to those affected by violence against women and children. There will be a programme of discussions, workshops and events to generate an increased level of awareness among South Africans relating to the incidence of violence against women and children, how it manifests itself within society, the negative impact on these vulnerable groups and to challenge perpetrators of these offences to change their behaviour.

The garden will also feature “a Bottle Tree” with hundreds of messages sealed in tiny glass bottles, from the PRC Men’s Forum, and there will be a symbolic “Washing Line” with black garments – paying tribute to Thursdays in Black, a programme run by Diakonia to encourage men and women to wear black every Thursday to raise awareness around issues of gender justice, violence against women and corrective rape.

For more information about the campaign, contact Illa Thompson at [email protected] or 031 2011 638. For more information about the flower-making workshops, contact Dawn or Merle of the Sydenham Community Resource Centre at 031 207 4393. – Lifestyle Reporter