Social development minister visits garden that grows food for Athlone shelter
By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku 25m ago
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Cape Town – Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has emphasised the importance of the government ensuring that there is sustainability in the community-based projects that it supports.
Zulu was speaking yesterday in Athlone where she visited the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children as part of the department’s outreach programme ahead of the State Of the Nation Address today.
She also handed over a cheque for R300 000 to the Mhani Gingi Trust, a local NGO in Manenberg that empowers survivors of gender-based violence with entrepreneurial skills and the means to rebuild their lives.
Zulu, who was returning to the NGO for the second time since 2019, said the government could not jump from one project to another, only to realise that such projects had collapsed. She said projects collapsed when the support was not sustained.
“The most important thing is the funding had to be delivered, and the basis for it is about trying to keep sustainability going. What is most important for me is that whatever is produced here is going to the community gardens. It’s about how these community gardens are sustained.
“This is about ensuring that provincial and local governments support the community gardens, because that is from where the women who are struggling can also be assisted. Also it's about the training that needs to happen here, so other departments will see how they can be supportive. I am satisfied with what I have seen but I think they can still do more,” said Zulu.
Mhani Gingi founding director Lillian Masebenza said many women who sought protection at shelters had to go back to the same conditions and face the same violent perpetrators.
“They needed to be equipped with skills, not just empowered emotionally, but also economically, in order to improve their situations and to escape from abusive circumstances. The projects also generate income for the beneficiaries and provide food for consumption that supplies shelter kitchens,” she said.
Masebenza said the projects were about doing something, rather than just talking about the pandemic of violence against women and children and other challenges facing vulnerable groups in communities.
Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children director Bernadine Bachar said the centre has formed a partnership with the Mhani Gingi which seeks to alleviate food insecurity.
“Shelter residents are trained to grow and care for food crops. The programme also seeks to maximise the therapeutic aspect of gardening, which is very beneficial to survivors.
“The centre also holds workshops where residents are taught to make nutritious, healthy meals from the crops they grow. On exiting the shelter, survivors are supplied with seeds and equipment so they can grow their own food once home,” said Bachar.