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Story by Magdalena Wos | Resource Development Officer | Heifer South Africa
Photo by Buyani Khumalo | Livestock Coordinator | Heifer South Africa
A few months ago, Thandokuhle Ntombela, 13, did not know much about farming. She wasn’t interested in it, and she did not know how much work it takes to have a beautiful vegetable garden. At the beginning of 2012, her father, David Ntombela, 58, joined Heifer South Africa's Zusiphe Project and began working toward becoming a smallholder farmer. As she saw her father’s work, Thando’s attitude toward agriculture soon began to change. She became interested in learning agricultural techniques and about sustainability.
David and his wife, Samkellsiwe Ntombela, 56, have four children. Because they are both unemployed, the family relies on grants for income. David is trying to earn some extra money by working as a photographer at community ceremonies, and Samkellsiwe sells small accessories within the community.
But none of those jobs provide a family of six with permanent income, so David decided to join Heifer’s project. Through training and a gift of seedlings, David and his wife were able to create their own vegetable garden. Seeing agriculture as a long-term investment and a good way of living, they shared their knowledge with their children. They taught them how to work in the garden and plant vegetables.
As a result, Thando, who wishes to be a doctor when she grows up, looks at farming differently now. Thanks to the passion for agriculture her parents shared with her, she now loves to work outside, plant vegetables and help with watering. She has also learned that water is a valuable resource and that using water sustainably is important.
The Ntombela family is waiting to receive the gift of goats from Heifer. Meanwhile, David and Samkellsiwe continue to encourage and teach Thando about farming. The lessons she will learn—how hard work can produce the nutritious food she needs—will benefit her regardless of whether she decides to be a doctor or decides to become a farmer instead.