I have just recieved notice from Dana Ledyard of Global Giving that USD 299.54 is being transferred to our project. This amount has come from 9 donors and will be enough to train at least two people in organic micro-farming and working with kids in the outdoor classroom, who in turn will affect the lives of many hundreds.
If any of you would like to check out our latest Friends Newsletter (# 34), please go to firstname.lastname@example.org and read for yourself the results we are getting. If you would like a hardcopy, please send me your request and postal details to email@example.com ! I will post you a hardcopy and thereafter you will get a Friends Newsletter in the mail twice a year.
It is a very special and wonderful thing that you, who live virtually on the other side of the planet, care enough to put their own money into our work. This is deeply inspiring to me!
Thank you one and all!!
P.S. One of you, Grace Wong (hi Grace!), is coming to visit us in November. I and the rest of the team are looking forward to meeting her. Perhaps she will also post a report on her experience afterwards!
Being a freelance photographer, Kate Pesendorfer had the opportunity to join Vatiswa Dunjana and Liziwe Stofile, two urban agriculture fieldworkers from Abalimi, on a day tour to see their trainees. I had the privilege to meet six extraordinary people, who inspired her. Rob Small, Resource Mobilisation Manager and his crew, showed her through their work – how they not only train people but how the seeds they plant are nurtured by them.
Lucky strikes luck in ‘Garden Eden’
Coming from a farm in a rural area of the Eastern Cape, unemployed Lucky Solofute (28) was diagnosed with TB. After his treatment at Phumlani clinic in the township Philippi in Cape Town, he found out he was also infected with AIDS.
One day, he saw an old lady working in the garden of the clinic. Lucky felt sorry for her and wanted to help Maggie with the strenuous work. Reaching out a helping hand to Maggie, Lucky started working voluntarily in the garden for two months. Maggie retired and Lucky gladly took over her duties. Fresh air and eating his own planted vegetables, says Lucky, are supplements to his medication. Exercise makes him feel strong and confident instead of sitting at home, which makes him tired. He reports health benefits and strength. The clinic helped Lucky to receive a government grant for his HIV sickness and he in turn supports his sister and her three children. The produce of the garden is used for his own needs, his sisters and the people at the clinic.
Lucky enjoyed a four-day course with Abalimi, where he learned to manage and fertilise soil properly. In the Eastern Cape, you can only plant during the rainy season, whereas in Cape Town, crops can grow continuously. Lucky is now supported by the NGO Ikamwa La Bantu with R600 monthly, which might last until he is self-sufficient and has his own business. Lucky’s dream is to extend his space at the clinic garden but the others, who have the other part of the ground, won’t let him – he doesn’t give up.
One plot – two stories
At the crèche ‘Kumbulani Educare’, in Section I, in the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, a social development scheme has been initiated by ‘old’ people to utilise space to create a garden. Senior citizens were advised to find a location for this garden. This project was started in 2005 by Ikamwa La Bantu and Social Development (?).
Vuyisile Qotoyi (67), a member of the old-age group, says old people should not sleep all day but exercise. Vuyisile thrives on working outside, exercising and staying healthy. He joined in 2006 and did a course with Abalimi the same year. He loved learning how to work with vegetables. Melons and pumpkins were, at the time, all he knew from farming in the Western Cape. Vuyisile is so proud that, beside the garden at the crèche, he has his own at home. Vuyisile’s wife is unemployed and he supports four. He receives a pension from the government and is hoping for a stipend (from Ikamwa La Bantu).
Mzukisi Vokwana (50) is the ‘doctor’ of the garden – he wears surgical gloves at work. He always wanted to plough and when Mzukisi came in 1985 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, he fulfilled his dream. In 2005 the founder of the crèche recruited Mzukisi and today he is one of the two main co-ordinators of the garden. Six men and one woman work the garden, which belongs to them. The produce is for their own usage, parts of it is given to the crèche, the old-age home and the rest is sold to HIV/Aids. They raise between R 50 to R100 with the sales. None of the group is infected but they are all affected by the garden in being able to produce for their own livelihood.
Mzukisi did a course with Abalimi and is proud to work his first own garden. He loves eating his own fresh veggies.
Thanks to all donors who have supported ABALIMI to date
Abalimi has been making use of the Agriplanner Board Game, developed by the South African Institute for Entrepreneurs, to train both literate and illiterate gardeners about agricultural business. The training has been most successful, with Mrs Bokolo’s story demonstrating some of the amazing benefits of this training.
Mrs Bokolo, who continues to grow her own vegetables at Nolukhanyo Educare Preschool, has taken her new knowledge from the Agriplanner further than Abalimi had anticipated. Mrs Bokolo attended the Agriplanner training in July 2005, and she says that she uses the marketing tools that she learnt from the Agriplanner training in her own bead business. Since having done the Agriplanner training, she has gone to Claremont, Newlands and Mowbray to market her crafts herself. Her efforts were rewarded with business contracts from two shops for which she has to produce a certain amount of crafts every month.
Through the Agriplanner training, Mrs Bokolo has learnt a number of important business skills. These include how to reinvest money back into her business, to structure her money carefully, and that it is very important to meet deadlines for orders.
As a single mother, the money that Mrs Bokolo makes from her bead business is used to send her children to school and to buy groceries and furniture for her home.
Abalimi is supporting members of HIV/AIDS support groups to establish and maintain their own vegetable gardens. Vegetable gardens of this nature are currently flourishing at the Guguletu Health Clinic and the Philangetemba Khayelitsha Hospice.
In the corner of NY1 and NY3 in Nyanga, you will find beds of lush green vegetables within the premises of the Guguletu Health Clinic. This garden is run by the members of the HIV support group, Sakeka, and supported by Abalimi.
The six gardeners at Sakeka all share the status of being HIV positive. Their community garden is a safe environment where they can help each other to cope with the repercussions of being HIV positive. Through gardening, the Sakeka group are empowering themselves to tackle the devastating health affects of their illness. As project member Mxolisi Nimrod Gwele said, “My health has improved from the nutritious vegetables and exercise I get from my gardening.” The energy and spirit that these individuals have shown is truly inspirational.
Philangethemba, otherwise known as the Khayelitsha Hospice, is a support home for HIV positive people in the third and fourth stages of the disease. The Philangetemba vegetable garden is only three months old, but Pinky Ciya, the social worker, is very excited about the benefits that it has already given to the members of the support group.
In Philangetemba, the support group members participate in the gardening every Tuesday. “We use the vegetables from the garden to provide the support group with a meal when they come to visit, and members of the support group can also take some vegetables from the garden home with them,” says Pinky. “Nutrition plays a very important role in the treatment of AIDS and this way the members are learning the skills to start their own gardens at home.”
“Working in a garden helps the members to learn about team work.” Pinky says, “In this garden, everyone follows the motto EACH ONE TEACH ONE.”
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Resource Mobilisation Leader and Board Secretary