EDGE OF AFRICA volunteers have helped us launch an exciting new Community Time Exchange Project- we think that they have done an incredible job giving locals an alternative to economic empowerment!
Knysna, South Africa has high rates of unemployment and many of its citizens are living in poverty. In a 2012 Knysna Municipality report it was shown that 29% of Knysna’s citizens are living below the poverty line; and in a survey conducted by EDGE of AFRICA volunteers (during 2012/13) on a study population of 549 people living in underprivileged communities, 46% of the population were found to be unemployed.
In a community where people often don’t have the means to purchase services that they need, time exchange or time banking is the perfect solution – everybody has something they need and everything has something to offer, so instead of using money to purchase what you need, why not exchange services within the community?
The way the project works is very simple – every 1 hour of someone’s time is worth 1 point, so each time a member receives an hour of someone else’s time they “spend” 1 point, and each time a member gives an hour of time to someone they “earn” 1 point.
EDGE of AFRICA has been running weekly meetings (the first one being held on May 28th 2015) where local community members can come and let us know what skills or services they can offer and what they are looking to receive. With the help of our volunteers we then use our database to try to match up people who are able to assist each other in the community.
As well as encouraging the exchange of services within the community we also offer services that members can spend their points on, such as computer classes, literacy/numeracy classes, CV writing, form filling assistance (and more!); and we offer ways in which members can earn points, by assisting with our on-going community outreach projects. Our diverse community outreach volunteers can bring all sorts of skills exchange to the programme and everyone has skills to share!
This project is still in its infancy, but we hope that it will go from strength to strength and have a real and tangible impact in our underprivileged communities. Our hope is not only that the project will provide people with some of the services that they need, but also that it will improve community cohesion and give people a real sense of pride.
We hope as this project continues to grow there will be more and more stakeholders involved, and we are currently in the process of approaching local business that may be able to offer internships that members can “purchase” with their points!