Helping people help themselves
For many disabled people in southern Africa, the idea of achieving something themselves and contributing to their own livelihoods is merely a dream. In our greenhouses and on our chicken farm, they can join highly inclusive working teams and play their own part in success – from tending tiny vegetable seedlings to crop sales, from rearing chickens to the first egg sales.
In Soweto, a suburb of Johannesburg, people with and without disabilities work hand in hand. Under their care, peppers, kale, spinach, chilli and other vegetable varieties grow and flourish inside a barrier-free greenhouse. Selling harvested crops to other people as well as companies and church communities ensures a regular income for employees while boosting their self-confidence and independence.
The tasks they perform are wide-ranging and cover everything from the sowing of seeds and seedlings to weeding, pruning shoots and watering (in a sustainable, water-saving manner thanks to computer-controlled drip irrigation).
The chicken farm
Chickens, eggs and vegetables are popular foods that are ubiquitous in our part of the world. When it comes to the rural districts of southern Africa, though, the picture is very different. Here, many people subsist on a poor and unbalanced diet often consisting of a cereal porridge containing few high-quality proteins and vitamins. Quality staple foods are either hard to find or simply unaffordable. In 2016, in an attempt to change this, Utho Ngathi built chicken coops in the village region of Macubeni in the eastern part of South Africa. The chickens are fed and cared for by people with and without disabilities, who thereby earn a small income for their families while supplying eggs and meat to the local community of 18 surrounding villages. Vegetable varieties like peppers, kale and spinach are also cultivated here.
What’s special is how effectively our projects complement and support each other: poultry manure from Macubeni is used both on the site and also in Soweto as fertiliser for growing vegetables. Utho Ngathi employees and charges finally sell eggs, meat and vegetables to the surrounding villages – but also to government agencies like the police and the council of a small nearby town.