Nehemiah 2:17: Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (NIV).

The vision and Nelson Mandela Bay

Imagine us residents united in our desire to rebuild the “walls” of our city. Our Nehemiah Vision is based on the mandate given to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In order to give practical expression to the promotion of social cohesion and nation building, we need to reach out to the communities at the furthest ends of our cities.

South Africa is a nation of many opportunities and great promise. But, we are facing enormous challenges of physical segregation, inequality, poverty and unemployment. If these stumbling blocks are not dealt with, they will cause the downfall of this great nation. We need to rebuild the city walls(wards) one at a time to encourage society to work together to promote the well-being of all our citizens and sustainable economic development at a micro level.

In a city where our past history has resulted in geographical segregation our citizens should be encouraged to form partnerships. We should endeavour to nurture a new South African citizen who embodies common characteristics of respect, trust, responsibility, fairness, caring for others and good citizenship.

City-wide management grid

This Nehemiah approach can be likened to placing a management grid over the entire city. The initiative is built around statutory Municipal Ward structures. The key to the successful implementation of this initiative is to utilize five key drivers i.e. the Municipal Ward Councillor and the members of his Ward Committee, the Local Churches and Schools located in the specific ward, health clinics and hospitals and key players in the Safety and Security Sector i.e. SAPS, Neighbourhood Watch and Peace Monitors.

Essential management tools for the successful execution of the initiative are the following: relevant ward map, ward integrated development plan and ward socio-economic profile. To assist people to convert the original Nehemiah text into a modern professional business model refer to:  Five Steps to Success, modelled by Nehemiah by Rick Boxx. Finally, to ensure that we focus on the “how”, we have developed a Municipal Cluster Nehemiah Project Scoreboard. A Church Nehemiah Volunteer should be identified to assist the Ward Councillor to promote the Nehemiah initiative in his/her Ward.

In order to make it possible for members of a specific ward to effectively execute this Nehemiah Initiative at a micro level, we need to identify areas in which they could make a meaningful contribution.

In line with the most pressing needs of inequality, poverty and unemployment we would suggest that at a micro level we encourage people to tackle inequality by getting involved in education and health projects; poverty i.e. self-help farming & gardening to alleviate hunger and finally, unemployment through assisting people to acquire the necessary skills to obtain jobs in the market place.

As a first step the Ward Church Nehemiah Volunteer, on behalf of the Ward Councillor arranges an informal meeting to promote the initiative. Each of the five institutional drivers will focus on building relationships, firstly, with each other and secondly, with people in other sectors to seek opportunities to work together.

NOTE:  Important documents available on: TCN (www.tcn.org.za) and NMBM (www.nelsonmandelabay.gov.za) websites: Ward Councillor & Committee, IDP (2017/18-2021/22), Ward Demographic / Socio-Economic Profile / Maps, lists of churches and schools in Wards and Nehemiah Project Scoreboard. Five Steps to Success, modelled by Nehemiah by Rick Boxx.

Trevor Jennings (06 /02/2018)