On a trip to Cape Town, you may have noticed a heart sign and wondered about its origin. Perhaps you’ve spotted a giant heart painted on the side of a building or a metal heart hanging in front of a restaurant.
All around the Mother City, you are bound to spot a heart sticker, painting or structure. There’s a meaning to these love symbols, rather than some hooligan running around putting hearts on available blank surfaces,
Instead, the hearts are representative of an NPO called the Secret Love Project.
The Secret Love Project aims to support the Mother City’s homeless, by helping them make an income. Through the sale of heart stickers, these folks are able to earn some money for food and shelter.
The works were created by South African artist Michael Elion. They have been scattered around Cape Town to remind onlookers that they are loved, as well as to share the love with others.
The Secret Love Project is a social engineering experiment that explores how symbols and signs that the community see in their daily lives influence their behaviour and collective consciousness.
‘We provide anyone in need a way to make their own money, become self-sufficient, and enjoy acceptance by the community. Using love as our currency, we invite anyone and everyone to join us in our mission to make the world a better place.’
‘Whether you need help or are able to help The Secret Love Project is a community collaboration that enables people of all walks of life to contribute to building a better and more inclusive society. Adding compassion to the fabric of city life makes Cape Town a happier, healthier, safer and more beautiful place to be,’ says SLP on their website.
Sellers of the heart stickers are dotted alongside the city’s robots and R20 will buy you one pack of 10 hearts. Buyers will decorate with the stickers as they please, spreading the love as they go.
Maybe you haven’t noticed the signs along the side of the streets. Perhaps you have seen the metal heart structures hanging outside a handful of the Cape’s restaurants.
Along the Camps Bay strip there is a giant heart hanging in front of the popular restaurants. This is also an installation of the The Secret Love Project.
‘Each month we provide 10,000 free heart sticker packs to the homeless to sell to motorists at R20 each. They keep 100% of their sales which amounts to R200,000 a month (R2,4million per year) going directly into the hands of the most needy in our community. With more than 150 registered sellers and the immediate, positive impact the project has on their lives, the demand for heart stickers has increased exponentially each month, with new sellers joining every week. Most of whom, for the very first time feel like they are given an opportunity go straight to work and immediately feel welcomed by society.’
In February, on Valentine’s Day, the project launched in Johannesburg, giving residents of the Big Smoke the opportunity to share the love too.
When lockdown is over and we are able to move freely again, spread the love and purchase a pack of these meaningful stickers. A little love goes a long way.
To find out more about The Secret Love Project or to support the cause while lockdown is in place, visit the website here.
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