With a new year well underway, many are now starting to return to work, but many did not stop, and have been very busy working and providing for those around them and in their communities without rest and continue to do so with an upbeat and happy demeanour.
Clover Mama Afrika is a sustainable Corporate Social Investment project that has been in existence since 2004, hosting 426 training sessions with over 2261 beneficiaries over the years in order to upskill ‘mamas’ all across the country.
Clover Mama Afrikas are very special ladies who put themselves second and work to upskill themselves and their communities on a daily basis. But how does one become a Clover Mama?
Mamas are found all around South Africa. Prof Elain Vlok, Clover Manager, Clover Mama Afrika Trust hears about Mamas from various sources. Prof Vlok and her team come to hear about women who are looking after abused and neglected children or elderly or other vulnerable groups in communities. Sometimes these ‘leads’ come from Clover staff, who find these amazing, female community leaders during their travels, and sometimes fellow Mama Afrikas tell the team of other phenomenal women. Mama Afrikas are also sometimes found through the media, whether they have heard or seen a radio or television interview done by Prof Vlok, or read about her and the Clover Mama Afrika team and their wonderful work in a magazine or newspaper, after any exposure there is always interested women reaching out.
However, the criteria to be considered and become a Clover Mama Afrika is very stringent. This is because it takes something special to be a Mama, and the investment in the Mama is extensive. Once appointed, these women are assisted with their centres, creches, bakeries, food gardens etc, to ensure they have everything that they require in order to run their centres or gardens successfully, but also grow them from strength to strength, most often providing job opportunities to other community members.
Clover Mamas are upskilled when they attend various training courses ranging from sewing to baking to cooking to mosaicking, to name but a few. In addition, their apprentices and assistants also receive training where necessary. This allows the mamas and their teams to then use these skills and properly implement them in their centres. There are regular check-ins and evaluations to ensure the training and investment is being put to good use; the Mama Afrikas are part of very stringent measures which include regular onsite inspections of their centres throughout the year by the Clover Mama Afrika Team, as well as interviews, budget reviews, which requires a thorough understanding of the way that Clover Mama Afrika operates. Clover Mama Afrikas never receive a salary from Clover but, through sheer hard work they dictate their own income through their baking bread, sewing, mosaic, hair dressing, or even egg-laying project skills that they provide their community with.
Being a Clover Mama Afrika is not for the faint hearted and these women start their days before sunrise and regularly only finish after sunset. During the 2020 period all training for the Clover Mamas continued virtually, which meant that all upskilling could still continue and they could still gain new skills or refine their current skills so that they could ensure that they are providing only the best for the communities. This is set to continue into 2021 with all the unknowns that come with the pandemic.
“These women are truly the heart and soul of Clover Mama Afrika. It takes a special individual to be able to step up to the plate and give so much of themselves to those around them and we are so proud of the Clover Mamas that we have on our team and that we work with. Visiting their centres and training them is always such an honour,” explains Prof Elain Vlok, Clover Manager, Clover Mama Afrika Trust.