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Hope blooms despite flooded land

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Hope blooms despite flooded land.
The recent rains wreaked havoc on the Masivuke Organic Food Garden Group in Westlake, flooding their garden and washing their seeds away. This group of nine ladies, and one man, however, know how to persevere through hardships.

“We arrived at our garden and saw that the drain in the road outside of our property had been blocked up and was overflowing into our garden,” said Linah Jokazi, a shareholder and spokesperson for the group of organic farmers, “and that our seeds had all been washed onto the neighbouring sports field.”

Ms Jokazi said the group immediately encouraged themselves and collected money from between themselves. “We gave the money to our Group Manager, Anthea Thebus, and she kindly went to buy us more seeds,” she explained, adding that the loss was very costly as they only earn a R50 stipend per day. “Thankfully the city have come to fix the drain which shows they care,” Ms Jokazi added.

The Masivuke Organic Food Garden Group was established in 2009 and is one of the projects begun by The Westlake United Church Trust(WUCT), whose mission it is to uplift and empower the residents of Westlake Village to become a self-sustaining and thriving community through education, skills development, youth development, job creation programs and home based care.  

“We sell our crops to a local restaurant, the Westlake community, we supply Ithemba, a local HIV/AIDS support group and we eat of it ourselves,” Ms Jokazi said. “We have a kitchen set up in a container where we want to cook food for ourselves while we work as well as being able to start a soup kitchen but we have no electricity,” Ms Jokazi said. “We have been battling for four years now to get electricity but because we don’t have a lease for the land they wont give us electricity.”

According to Ms Jokazi, Dave Barnes of the WUCT has been working hard at trying to get a lease for the land but up until now has not been successful. As a temporary and less than ideal solution, Joyce Sishuba, one of the ladies in the group, runs a power lead from her home across the road to the container kitchen. “We work out how much power we use and then we all pay our share of that,” Ms Sishuba explained.

The group face similar problems with their water supply. “We have a water tank but we have to phone a company to come and fill it up when it is empty and that works out to be pretty expensive,” Ms Jokazi explained.  

According to the group the soil that they are farming with is also less than ideal. They are hoping to turn enough profits as soon as possible to be able to buy compost, which they say will help them to produce healthier and more crops. They are also in desperate need of more tools.

“Yes, we have faced many hardships working here, but things can only get better,” said Cynthia Tshangela, adding, “this project has given me hope, before I began working here I was unemployed for four years.”

Makoetje Motseki, the man of the group, said he loved coming to work. “The ladies work very hard and I respect them for that and they always make sure that I am looked after,” Mr Motseki said.

For more information, contact Anthea Thebus at 0217021697 

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