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Story by Claire Hawkridge | Fundraising, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator | Heifer South Africa
Photo by Buyani Khumalo | Agriculture Coordinator | Heifer South Africa
Mabheleni Village is a poor, rural area in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. Families face huge challenges of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. In 2010, the municipality donated water tanks to village residents. Yet, many lacked the skills to use this new water source. Through Heifer’s Sukuma Poultry Project, Ntombizethu Mhlakwana, 48, is using the resources available in her local community, including those provided by the government, to improve life for herself and her family.
Heifer South Africa is a community development organization that partners with groups of poor, rural farmers to end hunger and poverty in South Africa and care for the Earth. Heifer teaches farmers how to use local resources and improved, scientific practices to increase their productivity and restore the environment.
Ntombizethu has learned many things from Heifer. As a project participant, she has attended trainings on chicken management, vegetable production, leadership, Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS. Heifer has also given her seedlings to start her vegetable garden and chickens for egg production. But Heifer doesn’t simply provide training and agricultural inputs. Heifer’s team visits the community regularly and helps these farmers apply the knowledge they have gained and use their resources effectively.
Ntombizethu’s garden, which sits on two and a half acres, is flourishing. She grows spinach, cabbage, carrots, maize and beans. She uses some of these vegetables to ensure her children and five grandchildren have a healthy diet. She sells the rest to pay for school fees, school books and additional groceries.
Many people don’t know how to make the best use of the resources available to them. For members of the Sukuma Poultry Project, learning how to manage and preserve what they already have is changing their lives. “From the trainings, we received from Heifer a lot of change," said Ntombizethu. "I give thanks to Heifer for giving us such good chickens and we are loving each other in the family.”