My name is Vuyani Leah Mashele from Limpopo province, in a village called Shikwambana in Tzaneen. I am studying Entrepreneurial Management and Development Programme (EMDP) at the University of Stellenbosch. Last year, I was offered an opportunity by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to become an intern at Heifer South Africa. Excited about becoming part of Heifer South Africa, I moved to KwaZulu-Natal on February 1, 2012. Being an intern at Heifer has been a blessing as I met friendly workmates and, at the end of a day, we became one big happy family. I am so grateful for all the good times we had and all the experience that came with it.
I did not know what to expect when I got here and after finding out there were so many different aspects to Heifer’s work, I was a little worried about how I would manage. I had only studied animal production, but at Heifer I was exposed to crop production as well. It was amazing, and I must say I learned a lot. I can proudly say that I am now loaded with experience in both field and office work, as well as project management.
I enjoyed working with the Zushipe Project. The project members were like my second family and every time I was with them I enjoyed it to the fullest. They never made me feel like an outsider, even though sometimes there was a language barrier. I learned a lot about the Zulu culture from them, like the type of food they eat at home and their way of doing things. I got to love and respect it. Manje se ngi khuluma isiZulu kahle (Now I can speak Zulu very well), all thanks to the project members.
I would really like to say thank you to Sthembiso Gasa (project coordinator) and Buyani Khumalo (agricultural coordinator) for all the good treatment they gave to us. They were our family here and always there for us regardless of the situation. Mr. Gasa - you have been so far the best mentor one could ever wish for. I also would like to say thank you to the Chief Executive Officer of Heifer South Africa Marisia Geraci and all the staff members. I wish each person involved with Heifer South Africa a blessed year, and keep empowering our nation!
Editor's Note: Every year, thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, several young South Africans are given the opportunity to spend a year working with Heifer South Africa. The internship is an opportunity to learn about Heifer’s work and practice the skills gained while in school. As the year with Heifer draws to a close, Vuyani Leah Mashele, an intern based in our KwaZulu-Natal office, shares her thoughts. (Photo taken by Magdalena Wos, Resource Development Officer, Heifer South Africa)