Mabheleni Village is a poor, rural area in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. Families face huge challenges of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. In 2010, the municipality donated water tanks to residents in the village. For many, though, the skills to use this new water-source were lacking. Through Heifer's Sukuma Poultry Project, Ntombizethu Mhlakwana (48) is using the resources available in her local community, including those resources provided by government, to improve her own life and that of her family.
Heifer International South Africa (Heifer) is a community development organisation that partners with groups of poor, rural farmers to end hunger and poverty in South Africa and care for the Earth. Heifer teaches farmers how to use local resources and improved, scientific practices to increase their productivity and to restore the environment.
Ntombizethu has learnt many things from Heifer. She has attended trainings on chicken management, vegetable production, leadership, Heifer's 12 Cornerstones or principles for Just and Sustainable Development, nutrition and HIV/AIDS. Heifer has also given her seedlings to start her vegetable garden and chickens to begin producing eggs. But Heifer doesn't simply provide training and agricultural inputs - Heifer's team visits the community regularly and helps farmers to apply the knowledge they have gained and to use their resources effectively.
Ntombizethu's one hectare garden is flourishing. She is growing spinach, cabbage, carrots and also produces maize and beans. Some of these vegetables she uses to ensure that her children and her five grandchildren have a healthy diet. The rest she sells to pay for school fees, school books and additional groceries.
Many people don't know how to make the best use of the resources available to them. For the members of the Sukuma Poultry Project, learning how to manage and preserve what they already have is changing lives. "From the trainings we received from Heifer a lot of change. I give thanks to Heifer for giving us such good chickens and we are loving each other in the family," said Ntombizethu.