Posts Tagged ‘orphans and vulnerable children’

Part 4: Growing Fresh Organic Food

This is my final episode of the four part series about growing fresh organic food in the cities as well as in rural establishments.

With less and less land available in cities today, people are trying to make the most of the open space that are available. In Britain they have developed “seed bombs” and other simple ways to plant seeds covertly. “Please water me” signs have been placed some sites to encourage people to take ownership of these spaces.

Back in Durban, there has been a call for all citizens to start growing their own food to increase their own food security, to become healthier and to combat climate change by reducing the distances food is transported. Meanwhile, Martin Clement of the Durban Botanic Gardens regularly takes children out at night to garden a specific site in the city, getting them interested in gardening and beautifying the city. These initiatives show how we can all make an effort to beautify our open spaces in the city, to make unproductive space productive, and “take back forgotten gardens”. Municipalities have limited resources and cannot maintain our public open spaces; they are for the public after all!

Fresh Organic Food

Fresh Organic Food

Steps to developing your own “guerrilla garden” in your area:

1. Identify a piece of unused land in your community

2. Consult your local Parks Department to get access to the land

3. Do some research on permaculture techniques and planting sustainably. Paula Osborne at +27 (0) 84 444 4657 or earthfirst@absamail.co.za and Martin Clement at the Durban Botanic Garden, clementm@durban.gov.za, are specialist in planting sustainibily. Books to read include “Food Forests the Permaculture Way” by Geoff Lawton and “Guerrilla Gardening” by Richard Reynolds. An insightful documentary entitled “The Power of Community” on Cuba’s example how they Survived Peak Oil.

4. Plan an outline of the garden and consult th eParks Department to find out what kind of plants grow well together. Contact Manisha Arbuckle at arbucklem@durban.gov.za for advice.

5. Invlove businesses in your area to help fund seeds and garden tools for the initiative.

6. Involve your community (agricultural rural cooperatives). Have gardening fun days and get children involved.

7. Instead of food, you can plant flowers to beautify verges and open spaces. Make sure the plants are indigenous to the area so that indigeneous birds will be attracted and an outbreak of exotic plants does not occur.

8. Most of all have fun!

For more information see: www.guerrillagardening.org


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Part 3: Growing Fresh Organic Food

Planing an assortment of vegetables and food tree in an organic manner, rather than a monoculture, creates a “food forest” that tries to emulate nature. This helps to prevent the soil being drained. By planting plants that complement each other, pesticides and chemicals can be avoided.

Agricultural Rural Cooperatives

Citizen Vegetable Gardening

Frank and Tina decided to start small and advise others to do the same. But guerrilla gardening could certainly be done on a larger scale in Durban and by the agricultural cooperatives in rural areas, with people taking ownership of the spaces in their communities to beautify them and perhaps grow food for the of a particulr area. Tina and Frank have shown that this can be done and that with a bit of hard work, food can be grown in a sustainable way that helps tackle poverty and feed the communities.

Elsewhere in the world similar projects have been on the go for quite some time. The people in Cuba have put permaculture techniques to good use, transforming much unused spaces into food forestst. In 1989 when the Soviet Union fell, Cuba stopped receiving food from outside of the country. People started to grow food in open, unused spaces to address the food shortages. Over time government set guidelines and all the gardens became organic and made use of permaculture techniques. Today, up to 70% of Cuba’s frsh produce is grown that way and people are living healthier lives as they are working in their gardens and eating the organic food they produce.

In Britain most guerrilla gardening involves beautifyng areas with flowers and other plants to increase the aesthetic appeal of cities. There, guerrilla gardening is classified as “criminal damage”, which is why mostly takes place at night. For people without their own gardens, guerrilla gardening gives them a way to connect with nature and to produce something of beauty and of value to passersby in the city

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Driven by a passion of assisting the Aged and caring for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC’s), Siyasizana Community Development embarked on a mission to visit Illovo Township, South of Durban. We conducted a house to house survey, starting from Section B. This township was a previously reserved settlement and is being upgraded to a low cost housing development.

During our home visits, we try and identify families with older parents who have no one to offer them basic human needs, also those homes that are run by orphans. As caregivers we not only care for them, but when arriving in their homes we also attend to their ill children and grandchildren. We provide them with home nursing, feed them, clean their houses and cook for them if the need arises.

In many cases we as caregivers will refer some cases to the organization’s paralegal practitioners that will assist with, for instance, application for ID documents, birth certificates for their grandchildren, application for child support grants, pensions, etc. Mostly these households do not have anything to eat; we would provide them with food parcels.

Mrs. M Dangazela (widow) , aged 63yrs Supervisor

At Illovo we have developed a very good relationship with Mrs. M Dangazela who is a widow but a woman with a vision. This woman has five children of her own. One of her sons is mentally challenged, a daughter is physically challenged. Out of the remaining three sons, only one is working. Two are unemployed. Besides this burden, she started a Day Care Centre next to her house to care for the young children of the surrounding working community. The number of these kids has astronomically grown to be seventy. So far she has provided employment to five caregivers.

Corrugated Classroom, kids are exposed to extreme weather conditions

She uses two informal structures and her garage which serve as classrooms. The majority of these kids are HIV/AIDS carriers. Some suffer from Tuberculosis. Mrs. M Dangazela is semi-illiterate and likewise encounters countless setbacks to run her Centre effectively.

Wooden Classroom, kids are exposed to extreme weather conditions

Siyasizana Community Development is raising funds to help improve the existing informal structures used as Day Care Centre to insulated containers. We also discovered that there is food shortage in the Centre due to late payment or non-payment of fees by the low income parents. The five caregivers that work with her are very much demotivated by the inconsistency of their salaries. Mrs. M Dangazela who also acts as a supervisor, cooks for the kids in her own house; allow the kids to use her bathroom as the Centre structures have none.

Interesting facts about Orphans and Vulnerable Children

One of the most tragic results of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa is the rapidly growing number of children made vulnerable or orphaned by HIV/AIDS. In 2004, an estimated 2.2million children had lost either one or both their parents – Department of Health 2007:28. The number of orphans in the country more than doubled between 2003 and 2006 – Department of Health 2007:34.

According to the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS 2007 – 2011 – Department of Health, 2007:29, “The worst affected children – those in deeply impoverished households  – experience various forms of physical, material and psychosocial deprivation and assaults on their health as a result of lack of parental care and nurturing environment. Often these children are separated from caregivers and siblings and sent to stay with other relatives or other cares or social networks”.

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The Durban Metro Municipality has come to the aid of a Chesterville family of 23 who were living in abject conditions, crowded into a one-room house with adjoining mud shelters.

Recently the Housing Unit handed over a new home to the Zulu family after being alerted to their plight by Ward 29 Councillor, Lindiwe Ntaka. Ntaka had been going from door to door, checking up on the living conditions of residents, when she chanced upon the Zulu’s homestead.

“I could not hold back my tears when I saw a family of 23 living in mud shacks, with no one employed. Most were sick with TB, because it is very stuffy and unhealthy in their shack,” she said.

With money from her own pocket, Ntaka bought them groceries. “I asked social workers to monitor the situation and contacted the Municipality’s Housing Unit. Sthe Mkhize, of the Housing Unit, thanked Anele Constructions for responding quickly to the crisis.


“The building of the house took only two weeks – and it is a quality one,” Mkhize said. Head of the family, Busisiwe Zulu, said she was delighted with their new brick home which has a big bedroom, lounge, kitchen, toilet, shower and electricity.

“This is a dream come true. I never thought in my lifetime I would live in such a nice house because we depend on a pension for our living, which only covers groceries because I am looking after my late sister’s children,” said Zulu. She thanked Ntaka for her help.

Nonhlanhla Duma, Zulu’s niece, who shares the house with  family, said that in the past they had struggled when some needed to study and others wanted to sleep. ” At least now we can use the other room while studying and the elders can sleep in the new one.

“We are grateful for this even though it is painful because my other anunt and grandfather passed away recently from TB while the house was being built,” said Duma.

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Most of us must have heard by now through the media the devastation of the earthquake that left thousands of orphans in Haiti. The earthquake struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 and caused unprecedented devastation and suffering to the country and its people.

In response to this tragedy, the international community has already raised millions of dollars in support of emergency relief and reconstruction efforts. However, much more needs to be done over a sustained period of time to support Haitians and the rebuilding of their country.

Although Africa continues to be confronted with many long-term and complex development challenges, the crisis in Haiti also requires the people of Africa to contribute to the international response.

Under the banner of the “Africa for Haiti” campaign a number of prominent African civil society organisations are combining their efforts in mobilising support for Haiti. The aim is to raise US$20 million in the next six months in support of specific reconstruction initiatives which will be identified in partnership with Haitian civil society organisations.

The campaign has the support of prominent leaders such as Graça Machel and Archbishops Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane.

It is hoped that this campaign will provide Africans from all walks of life an opportunity to demonstrate their collective solidarity and support for the people of Haiti, thereby uniting Africans in compassion and giving.

To make a donation, visit your nearest Standard Bank branch and make a donation using the following bank account:

Name: African Monitor Haiti Campaign
Branch: Adderly Street
Account: 078431441-007
Branch code: 02009
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ

You can also make an online donation by visiting the “Africa for Haiti” campaign website.

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Needy school children in the Durban South Area were given some Christmas cheer recently when they received school uniform gift vouchers.

This initiative saw 60 children from 60 schools from Umlazi, Lamontville, Wentworth, Merebank, Isipingo and the informal settlement of Malukazi each receive a R500 gift voucher to purchase school uniforms for the new year.

The project was initiated by members of the SAPREF Community Liaison Forum (CFL) who opted to forego traditional year end celebration in favour of uplifting the children in the community in some way.

“In the true spirit of Christmas they felt the funds go towards a worthy cause and it was decided to assist underprivileged children with school uniforms,” explained SAPREF’s sustainable development manager, Lindiwe Khuzwayo.

SAPREF provided funding for 50 of the R500 vouchers and five vouchers came from private donors connected to SAPREF. “The recipients of the vouchers all come from severely deprived backgrounds. To identify the most needy learner at each school, SAPREF worked with teachers who mange the Department of Education’s programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children at the various schools,” said Khuzwayo.

The CLF has been instrumental in developing various social initiatives such as training for community leaders and soccer development for school learners.

Source: Southern Star

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