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Social development minister visits garden that grows food for Athlone shelter

Social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu recently visited the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Cape Town as part of the department’s outreach programme. The programme is geared at bringing various government services closer to rural communities.

“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 Bernadine Bachar, Director of Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women.

During her visit, Zulu emphasized the importance of the government ensuring that there is sustainability in the community-based projects that it supports. She handed over a cheque for R337 676,81 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.

“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,” said Zulu.

The centre formed a partnership with the Mhani Gingi which seeks to alleviate food insecurity.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.

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