South Africa’s LifeLine, a humanitarian organisation focused on counselling, is offering a free phone for every 60 rats caught, an initiative targeted at ending the “rat menace” in the nation’s township Alexandra.
In partnership with local mobile operator 8ta, the scheme aims to help the residents of Alexandra (Alex) get rid of the rodents who have dealt with the “rat menace” for a number of years now.
The local administration has tried unsuccessfully in the past to use various schemes including an owl exchange initiative to end the problem. Council woman Julie Moloi states that there’s a real fear that the rodents will “take over” and Alexandra will become “a city of rats.”
Catching the rats is so easy that a local resident Joseph Mothapo caught 23 of them on the first evening with a single trap. “It’s easy. You put your leftover food inside and the rats climb inside, getting caught as the trap door closes,” Mothapo told the Mail & Guardian newspaper.
Alexandra is recognized as where former president Nelson Mandela lived when he moved to the city, and goes on record as one of the most impoverished areas in South Africa.
Lifeline was started in 1963 in Australia and was brought to Cape Town in 1968 going on to develop a proud network of telephone counselling centres and other services offering support to those experiencing emotional distress.
During October 2012′s Mental Health Awareness (MHA) month, LifeLine partnered with Africa’s fastest growing social networking site Mxit to offer mobile chat platform for counselling services.
According to LifeLine Johannesburg’s acting director Janet King, such initiatives opens up a whole new world for callers – especially those who cannot afford a telephone call.