This is the story of Bandile, who was 17 years old and doing grade 8 for the second time when Thanda’s agriculture after-school program came to his rural Sizanayo High School. Outside a humble school building set amidst rural hills dotted with huts and cows, the children learned to grow vegetables- something that had been lost during the turmoil of South Africa’s last 100 years. Bandile was the last born of 3 children and didn’t know anything about planting, but he immediately became passionate about agriculture and set up his own garden at home too. He taught his retired father and unemployed mother how to garden and they started helping each day. Bandile borrowed many books from the library set up by Thanda at his high school and he passed grade 8 with Thanda’s after-school help.
Today, Bandile is known around the community for his dedication to agriculture and his knowledge on organic permaculture. Teachers and local community members buy their vegetables from him and he’s supporting his household with this income. If you ever meet Bandile along the path, people say that he’ll turn the conversation to talk about agriculture and start teaching you how to plant.
This is just one of many examples of the changes happening in rural Umtwalume, spurred by Thanda’s agriculture initiatives. Just yesterday a new group of youth come to us, asking for advice and training in their new chicken business. It’s incredibly exciting as we start to see change happen and watch an economy take form.
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