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Children at the Orlando Children’s Home have pledged to care for 10 new trees planted there by Johannesburg City Parks as part of its Greening Soweto initiative.

Tiny tots from Orlando Children's Home pledge to take care of their trees
Tiny tots from Orlando Children's Home pledge to take care of their trees
JOHANNESBURG City Parks recently planted 10 trees at the Orlando Children’s Home. The trees will be cared for by the children, who pledged to protect and preserve the green legacy.

City Parks, Orlando Pirates Football Club and Boston BBQ planted 10 trees at the home on 28 October, as part of the ongoing project to green Soweto. Also in attendance were Kwela Tebza, the pennywhistle-playing group, and CNN journalists touring Soweto’s parks.

Before the tree-planting took place guests sang the hymn “Rea o boka Morena” (We praise you Lord), and everyone undertook a pledge to care for the trees.

The pledge states: “I hereby promise to take care of you and not to hurt you. I will never remove or break your branches. I will at all times protect you from those who’ll want to hurt you. I will do this because: you are special to all of us; you provide oxygen to everyone unselfishly; you provide the friendly shade, screening us from the summer sun; you make our environment look beautiful, healthy and green and you provide a home for the beautiful birds and other animals. I will always tell others about your role in our lives. You will always remain a friend to us, I Will Harm You Not.”

Reggie Moloi, Programme Director and City Parks' General Manager for street trees, said, “As City Parks, our mandate is to green the city and make sure that people have places where they can enjoy their leisure activities. In addition to our mandate, we educate people about the importance of the environment and we have decided that the Nelson Mandela 67 Minutes concept is not enough - that’s why we are here today cleaning the home’s grounds and planting trees.”

Pirates players help clean up Orlando Children's Home
Pirates players help clean up Orlando Children's Home
The home’s director Mirriam Mazibuko said, “We have always considered ourselves Amabhakabhaka (Orlando Pirates supporters) and I thank them for coming today. A special thanks to City Parks, and thank you all for coming here today.”

She added that the home was established in 1940 and is what it is today because of the community of Orlando, who sustained it when the council didn’t have funds to do so.

“We look after 60 children, ranging from one day to 22 years old. Our children attend the AB Khuma School next door, whilst the older ones attend Orlando West High and those in need of special care attend schools for kids with special needs.”

Orlando Pirates players and the club’s public relations officer Mickey Modisane donated soccer balls, water bottles, arm tags, pens, hats and Orlando Pirates t-shirts to the excited children.

Modisane said, “This initiative is all about giving back to the community. If the kids cannot go to the players, the players will go to the kids. We once adopted Othandweni Children’s Home for a year and now that we have come to Orlando we need to speak to the chairman of our club because this should be the start of bigger things to come.”

Mazibuko then took the players on a tour of the home, after which they tidied up the grounds and played a 10-minute 6-a-side game with some of the older children.