Narrative 4’s Community Center in Joe Slovo Township, SA

A project for sustainable and community led development


Campaign Goal: To empower the community at Joe Slovo to solve local problems and take the reins on this initiative.

Location South Africa


Our Story

Joe Slovo, situated in the vicinity of Port Elizabeth, is an informal settlement that provides shelter to more than 600 families.

As per a survey in 2014 –


of 20 year olds had not completed Grade 12


of households lived in informal dwellings


of Joe Slovo’s population was unemployed


of residents earned less than $12.59/mo

Though these statistics may be disheartening, the community at Joe Slovo was determined to make a change for the positive.

The Narrative 4 Community Center initially emerged as a simple initiative aimed at promoting cleanliness and recycling. In 2019, we launched an innovative exchange program where community members could trade recyclables for essential groceries.

How this works:

Residents collect recyclable trash like bottles and plastic containers and bring them to the center. The trash is weighed and the resident is given food vouchers that are tradable for provisions at the center’s grocery store.

“We are currently serving about 360 households per week in Nkandla alone, and we have collected more than 1000kgs of plastic bottles, cardboard, and waste.”

– Zukiswa Allah, Program Manager, N4 Africa (Early 2021)

The Evolution of the Center:

Fast forward less than three years, and with unwavering support from the local community, this project has blossomed into a sophisticated ecosystem that touches the lives of countless adults and children each day.

Our Project

At first glance, the Narrative 4 Community Center may appear unassuming to those who are not familiar with its remarkable evolution. Comprising repurposed shipping containers, this center now plays a multitude of roles, serving as a day care facility, a classroom for after-school lessons, a community kitchen, a library, a computer lab, a sports facility, an adult skill development center, and much more.

Trash to Treasure (Grocery Exchange Program)

Through this program, residents can exchange recyclables like plastic bottles and bags for food vouchers that can be traded for provisions at our in-house grocery store

Early Child Development

Our community center recognizes the importance of play, positive stimulation, and exposure in early child development. Thus, our daycare facilities are managed by ECD practitioners who ensure that the children of Joe Slovo have all they need for healthy development.

After School Lessons

The community center offers after-school lessons to students in middle and high school. Students can get academic help and access to counselling on opportunities for further studies and more.

Mid-Day Meals

The center ensures that every child is given at least one hot, fresh meal a day.

The Library and Computer Lab

One of our repurposed shipping containers serves as a library-cum-office equipped with computers for students to use for school or research and a small library to encourage reading.

Sports and Fitness

Keeping in mind the holistic benefits of sports, we offer sports and fitness training to students at the center. We even have a soccer team of our own!

Skills and Craft Acquisition Training

With a focus on improving employability and employment rates, Narrative 4 offers adults lessons in sewing, carpentry, and welding. The trained adults in turn train the next set of learners, creating a virtuous and sustainable cycle of development.


In an effort to make the center and its food exchange more sustainable, the team composts wet waste and uses the fertile soil to grow fruits and vegetables that are traded and used to prepare meals.

How you can help

We are currently raising funds for several upcoming projects including:

  • Restocking the grocery store for 2024 ($40,000)
  • Installing 10 new computers in the library/computer lab ($5000)
  • Fundraising for the next 2 cohorts of the Skills and Craft Acquisition Program ($60,000)
  • Populating the library at the community center ($5000)

Meet the team

Progress So Far/Updates

  • In 2021, Narrative 4 collected 1000 kilos of recyclable waste through the trash to treasure project
  • In 2022, we disbursed over 14700 food vouchers to residents of Joe Slovo
  • The program currently caters to over 360 households
  • Over 150 students come to the centre every week for daycare and after school services
  • N4 has graduated 80 participants in the Skills and Craft acquisition training. These learners have received full training in Sewing, Welding and Bricklaying.

Project Location

Learn More, 2014