Last year, I had the great opportunity to take my family to South Africa and volunteer at LIV Village — a purpose-built, long-term foster care community for orphaned children, modelled after African village life.
Located in the KwaZulu-Natal Kingdom north of Durban, South Africa, LIV Village not only ensures children’s physical needs are met, but also provides a loving and nurturing environment, education and a whole range of health and wellness activities. LIV believes that if these children are equipped with essential values and life skills, they’ll grow up to be a generation that will influence positive change within South Africa, the African continent and the world.
Always looking to improve their facilities, which currently include a school, medical centre and multi-purpose sports hall, I learned that LIV wanted to reconstruct the dam that had once been on the land with the goal of providing an educational and recreational area for the children. This seemed like a perfect opportunity for the AECOM office in Durban to get involved, so I reached out to my colleagues in the UK and in Durban to make the connections, and the effort began.
The AECOM team undertook the design of the project, encompassing the dam embankment, spillway and outlet works, as well as materials investigations and a detailed geotechnical survey of the land. The dam area was designed with the children in mind and includes a jetty, braai station (BBQ for the non-South Africans amongst us) and a boat shed. Once full, the dam will hold 12 million litres of water and, in addition to the recreational benefits, the lake will provide irrigation for the aquaponics farm, which provides both food and income for the village.
With the design of the project complete, I applied to the ‘AECOM Foundation’ for the funding to build the project, and I am happy to say, the funding was approved. As the construction works were nearing completion, LIV invited the whole AECOM team to the village for an opening ceremony. I was delighted to attend the ceremony and also have the opportunity to work with the LIV maintenance team (including members of the local community) on the construction of the jetty; further demonstrating the ripple effect of this project on the community and surrounding area.
Speaking about this amazing effort, AECOM’s Jonathan Schroder, who served as project director in South Africa, said:
“This has been a journey of connecting people and resources to make it happen, with support from AECOM to pursue the project and invest in LIV’s vision. Apart from personal satisfaction and growth, it’s been a great opportunity for many of our employees who had a role in the project, including Cameron Fraser, an up-and-coming dam engineer, Rannel Naidoo, an engineering geologist, and our two senior dam specialists, Deon van de Merwe and Danie Badenhorst. This project represents an investment in a bigger future for the community and LIV.”
The completion of the dam for LIV is a result of one of AECOM’s core values — collaborate — and of our commitment to corporate responsibility. The project was undertaken at no cost to LIV and is a project AECOM and LIV Village can be immensely proud of. Not only will the children of the village benefit directly from the reservoir, the project has provided much needed work for local people and businesses, and will leave a lasting legacy.
You can watch a short, 30 second video taken on the day of the ceremony here.
I’m excited to return to LIV Village in July for my next project… working with the local LIV team to replace their aging IT infrastructure. You can bet I will join the village children at the new swimming hole!