Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach

by Thusanang Trust
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Members drawing a Community Map
Members drawing a Community Map

What Covid-19 has taught us is to be kind and to carry on as best we can! South Africa has officially exited the third wave (which lasted longer than either of the previous 2), some countries have opened their borders and everyone is trying to carry on with their lives as "normally" as possible!

What does all this mean for our Self Help Groups? Well they can meet again, particularly if it is outside and they must really try to start/carry on with their Income Generating Businesses if at all possible as this is the best way to improve their standards of living.

Some exciting news is that we have started working with 2 Community Facilitators and 5 groups in a new area, Bolobedu. The attached photo shows members making a "Community Map" which is done with new groups so everyone knows where everyone else lives.

We have scheduled 2 Learning and Sharing events for November. We decided on 2 this year, after we had to cancel the event last year, as this will be safer if we have to hold them indoors. Our members are very excited at the prospect of meeting old friends, learning from one another and having an opportunity to show off their wares. Marketing remains a big challenge for those with Income Generating Businesses which do not involve food. In order to assist with this vital skill, Thusanang is hoping to be able to run workshops for SHG members to improve their business skills next year.

This is my final report for this year. Please stay safe, be kind and if you can, make a donation to our project!

Some beadwork made by Self Help Group Members
Some beadwork made by Self Help Group Members

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Rosina's day old chicks
Rosina's day old chicks

When I wrote the last report in February, we were just coming out of a rather devastating second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. Now we are entering our third wave. Hopefully it will not be as bad as the second one. However, we are going into winter when lots of people get colds and flu, especially those who are cold and malnourished (as are most of the people  belonging to our Self Help Groups). So far Limpopo Province (where we live and work) has not been badly affected by the third wave and we hope this will continue. The Self Help Groups have found it very difficult to meet during the pandemic. However, we have encouraged them to do so, perhaps once a fortnight instead of once a week, because of the moral and emotional support they have been able to give one another. 

During these difficult times, it has been the food generation projects that have been most successful. The vegetable garden I wrote about when it started in 2019, is still going strong. The members have been given a piece of land at a local school, and in return for this, they keep the school grounds clean. They are now growing enough vegetables to feed themselves and their families and they even have some to sell to the local community.  A couple of ladies (in different areas) are raising and selling live chickens in their local communities. One lady has an incubator and raises chickens from eggs, while the other buys day-old chicks, grows them out and sells them when they are big enough.

The March Little-by-Little campaign was successful and we raised $282. GlobalGiving matched this with $141. Thank you so very much to all of you who made this possible by donating to this campaign!

Chickens feeding
Chickens feeding
Ladies from Phedisanang SHG  in their veg garden
Ladies from Phedisanang SHG in their veg garden
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Temperatures are taken before meeting starts
Temperatures are taken before meeting starts

When I wrote the previous report in October 2020, we were on level 1 of lockdown and there were very few restrictions on our daily lives. However, it was not permitted to hold indoor gatherings of more than 100 people. We therefore cancelled the year end function. The predicted "second wave" did hit us in December, when people traditionally go home/on holiday for the Christmas festivities. At the end of December, we went back to lockdown level 3. This wave was more serious then the first one, because more people got sick and died, and this time it was our friends and families who were affected. New Year celebrations were either cancelled or very subdued. We are finally coming out of this second wave, as numbers of new infections decline steadily. Most of us are adjusting to the "new normal" -avoiding closed spaces, practising social distancing, wearing our masks every day and sanitising often.

Our Self  Help Groups are adjusting as well. In the photos below, you see one of our Community Facilitators, Olga, taking temperatures before the meeting starts. The people are all wearing masks (even the grandchild of one member!) and they make sure they are not sitting too close to one another during meetings.

Our Staff Person, Vivian, broke her leg earlier this year but she is still able to attend meetings if some-one can drive her there.

Olga has managed to start a new group and there are even 2 men in this group. It will be interesting to see if they are keen on the same projects as their lady counterparts.

Boreadi  from the group, Phelang Basadi, borrowed money from the group during lockdown and managed to build herself a 2-roomed house. Once she has repaid that loan, she wants to borrow more money to plaster the house to make it look more attractive.

Some groups did close down for a while last year, while others made plans to save and borrow money even though they weren't meeting physically. A third wave is predicted to start in autumn, but hopefully we will be better prepared if it does. Covid has taught us all to be creative and to cope. 

The March "Little-by-Little campaign is from 8-12 March. GlobalGiving will match any donation of up to $50 by 50%. We will be sending out more details about this campaign but ask you sincerely to consider contributing something towards this. All donations are gratefully received and it is so much better if they are matched as well!

Members of the group practise social distancing
Members of the group practise social distancing
All are welcome, men and women
All are welcome, men and women
The house that Boreadi built.
The house that Boreadi built.
Even the grandchildren wear masks
Even the grandchildren wear masks

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 South Africa is on level 1 of lockdown now and most of the economy has opened up and people have returned to a more "normal" way of life. However, we are facing the very real possibility of a "second wave" of infections now so still have to wear our masks, sanitise and practise social distancing.

In these strange times, our self help groups have been carrying on as best they can. Most have started meeting again while adhering to the Covid-19 protocols. In the meantime, groups and individuals have also carried on with their income-generating projects as well as they can. Some of the members of Diatla dia hlatswana had starting learning to do patchwork last year. One lady really enjoyed this and made and sold some handbags towards the end of last year. During lockdown, she kept herself busy making cushions and she is hoping to do more and to be able to sell them. Usually Haenertsburg has a Spring Fair in September to show off the wonderful gardens here, and there is a market for about 10 days. Unfortunately this did not happen this year, so we will have to explore other ways of selling.

 The group, Itshomeleng SHG, in the Dikgale area, after a long break of winter and lockdown, have started planting a vegetable garden. The Department of Agriculture has helped them by donating seedlings. They have an agreement with a local school, whereby they use a piece of their grounds for the garden, in exchange for cleaning the classrooms and yard of the school.

This year we have not been able to have any exchange visits nor will we be able to have our annual Learning and Sharing Day in December. However on the upside, none of our members have contracted Covid-19 and they are all adapting to the changes and challenges of 2020.

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Unfortunately there is not much to report as South Africa has been in lockdown since the end of March 2020 and groups have not been able to meet in the "normal" way! However, some individuals have managed to continue with their income generating projects in an innovative way. One of the sewing groups decided to make cloth masks which have been quite successful. They have been able to sell these masks locally. Our Community Facilitators do still need to receive stipends so we would be very grateful for any donations.

We have been very fortunate because one of our donors has pledged a monthly amount to the project. We would encourage more people to do the same if possible. 

I do hope that my next report will have some real news about our groups!

Thank you very much

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Organization Information

Thusanang Trust

Location: Haenertsburg, Limpopo - South Africa
Website:
Project Leader:
Ann Luther
Haenertsburg, Limpopo South Africa
$6,588 raised of $11,333 goal
 
110 donations
$4,745 to go
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