The Spring Foundation at Lentegeur Hospital is a registered NPO and PBO that is using a range of psychosocial rehabilitation and outreach projects to re-establish a sense of hope and recovery through reconnection to the natural world and to community, identity and heritage. These innovative programmes bring to life the literal translation of Lentegeur: “the aroma of spring” and the associated metaphor of spring as the rebirth of life through our connection to the natural cycles of the seasons. This work of the foundation is transforming the way that the hospital and mental illness are seen by the communities it serves and providing a stimulus for the regeneration of these communities by the restoration of hope and identity.
The Lentegeur Spring Project from which the Spring Foundation has grown was selected as part of the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 program and the foundation’s greening project was adopted as a flagship by The Provincial Department of the Western Cape and the Premiers 110% Green Campaign.
The origins of large psychiatric institutions lie in an era when mental illness was seen as something that was untreatable and which had to be removed from society. This led to large, prison-like settings that were seen as separate from society as a whole. Although it was simply given as an apartheid name to an area of re-settlement after forced removals, Lentegeur has a beautiful meaning: Lente means Spring and geur means aroma or essence. Lentegeur: “the essence of spring”.
Metaphorically, spring is about a return to life, a rebirth of hope after the long darkness of winter. This however can only be meaningful for us as human beings, if we understand that we are part of the natural cycles of nature. Thus the underlying philosophy of the Spring Foundation is about the rebirth of hope through reconnection.
This re-connection can be understood in a number of ways:
When we make these connections, there is a shift beyond the absolute, categorical way we habitually see ourselves, as sick or healthy, as crazy or normal, as me or you, us or them, now or forever. We start to realise we are not stuck and we are not alone. When this starts to happen, we begin to understand that there is hope and when we have hope, we become alive to possibility!
Dr John Parker
Founder The Lentegeur Spring Project