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Written by Clair Hawkridge, Resource Development Officer in South Africa
Sukuma Project in Mabheleni Village, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, is a group of 172 small farmers working partnership with Heifer International South Africa. On 18 July 2011, more than 100 project members, community members and volunteers gathered in the village to help plant fruit trees at their homes of project members, in honor of Nelson Mandela International Day. The Heifer International South Africa team coordinated the event and help support this great example of Sharing and Caring.
Nelson Mandela, former South African president and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, dedicated 67 years of his life to the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa and to leading the fight for human rights. The United Nations has declared 18 July Nelson Mandela International Day. On this day, Nelson Mandela’s birthday, people across South Africa and around the world dedicate 67 minutes to helping those in need.
The members of the Sukuma Project are working towards becoming successful small-scale egg producers. Each project member will soon be receiving chickens. They will also grow vegetables and fruit. The orange, mango and avocado trees that were planted on Mandela Day will provide fruit for sale and for project families to eat.
The group spent the morning moving from house to house planting the trees. Part of the aim of Mandela Day is to encourage people to help one another in the spirit of the Ubuntu – the belief, fundamental in many African cultures, that a person is only a person because he or she cares for and helps others. This group showed how project members can work together and work with Heifer to make the lives of the whole community better.
Even the local chief joined in. Chief Nelisiwe Mbhele has been very supportive of the project. She sees it as a way for some of her people to get out of poverty. “This project is a very good project. It is assisting poor women get some food because sometimes there is no food for cooking,” she said.
Project members are also very excited about the project. Mrs Busisiwe Mbhele (52) said, “I joined the project because I am very poor and my husband passed away. I am looking forward to having chickens that will lay eggs. Then I can sell the eggs and have money to buy things”. Mrs Mbhele supports her three sons who have been unable to find work.
Another project member told us that the fruit trees would make a huge difference for her. Mrs Eustina Mkhize (60) has 8 children and 17 grandchildren, 7 of whom live with her. She also supports one child of 8 who is an orphan. “I’m very excited about the trees,” she said. “I am hoping to sell the fruit and to eat it with my children”.
In the afternoon, everyone went up to the local school, Esiwoyeni Primary School. The school has a food garden that produces vegetables for the school feeding scheme. Miss BZ Zulu said that attendance at the school has increased dramatically since they began providing hot meals for the children. The project members and volunteers planted an orange tree so that the school pupils will be able to have fruit as well as vegetables.
It would have been impossible to plant all of the trees in one day (over 300 trees) but it was a great opportunity to share Mandela Day with the Sukuma Project members and see how committed they all are to helping each other to make the project a success.
|Mr. Ruphus Papole of the Arise and Shine Project in Limpopo province, South Africa.|
by Claire Hawkridge
Heifer International South Africa
Read to Feed Mandela Day Challenge
The 18th of July is the birthday of former South African president, Nelson Mandela. On that day, thousands of South Africans, and many people around the world, will dedicate 67 minutes or even a whole day to volunteering in the service of others to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. In 2011, Heifer International South Africa is inviting volunteers to be part of our work, fighting hunger and poverty and caring for the Earth.
Nelson Mandela dedicated 67 years of his life to creating and later leading a democratic South Africa. Mandela Day (Nelson Mandela International Day) has been created to recognise his contribution and, perhaps more importantly, to encourage every South African – and many others around the world – to honour and remember his life by getting involved in projects that help others. Heifer International South Africa will be running two Mandela Day volunteer projects.
Read to Feed Mandela Day Challenge
Reading is a crucial part of developing a strong, successful nation. Read to Feed as a programme runs at many schools in South Africa and encourages children to read books while also raising funds to support the work of Heifer International South Africa. On Mandela Day, Heifer International South Africa is inviting adults to get involved in Read to Feed, too. Volunteers will dedicate one hour to reading to children at pre-schools and early childhood development centres across the country. Companies and individuals involved in this challenge will find sponsors for the hour they give to Read to Feed and this money will go to support Heifer International South Africa.
Plant a Tree for Hunger on Mandela Day
The Sukuma Project is a new project of Heifer International South Africa. It is funded by Heifer International. This July, the 172 project families will be receiving fruit trees to plant in their gardens. Planting that many fruit trees is a big job. On 18 July 2011, volunteers will be joining the Heifer International South Africa staff and students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal to help the project members plant their trees. Volunteers are required to organise their own transport to the project (roughly 3 hours from the city of Durban). Heifer International South Africa is hoping to have many willing hands to help plant the trees that will provide fruit and income for these poor families in Mabheleni Village. Project members will also be growing vegetables and raising chickens as part of the Sukuma Project.
Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the freedom and lives of so many people is well-known. Heifer International South Africa is looking forward to the opportunity, on Mandela Day 2011, to share with others the work that we do every day to further contribute to the lives and secure the future of every South African.
Full details on these volunteering opportunities can be found on Heifer International South Africa’s website and the Greater Good South Africa website