Family Unit Participative Conference promotes the rights of women and children

Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, together with partners the 1.6 Million Club Sweden and Yennenga Progress, hosted a Family Unit Participative Conference in Cape Town from 17 to 19 August 2017 that drew together about 30 entities over three days to co-create a solution to feed into the strategy to be used in ongoing efforts directed at preventing the violation of the rights of women and children.

The initiative was aimed at promoting the health and safety of women and children, eradicating gender-based violence and strengthening the family unit.  It brought together existing service providers and organisations working in areas with high contact crime rates, government and political entities, participants from communities, and experts, with the objective of creating safer communities and forming a united voice against the violation of the vulnerable.

 Holistic, integrated and inclusive

“The problems of violence in our society necessitate the need for a holistic, integrated and inclusive project to highlight the importance of the functional Family Unit.  This is a big challenge in that many ‘families’ are child-headed,” said Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network.

“This project’s focus is a holistic and integrated approach, making the Family Unit, in whichever form, its point of departure.  Its strength will be on networking with existing services, organisations, political leaders and other entities already functioning within these areas to come together as one voice against violation of the rights of women, children and the vulnerable.”

For 14 years Mhani Gingi had focused mainly on women, youth, children at Early Childhood Development facilities, as well as on People with Disabilities (PWDs).  An additional focus would be a proactive approach to preparing soon-to-be or new fathers and men in general to understand their roles and take up the responsibility to care for and protect their children and the mothers of their children, Masebenza said.

The three-day Family Unit Participative Conference featured discussion around five integrated thematic topic areas:

  1. Education/Skills Transfer;
  2. Social Justice & Safety;
  3. Social Entrepreneurship;
  4. Healthy Lifestyle; and
  5. Food Security & Nutrition.

Safe communities and protection of the vulnerable

On 17 August, speakers from the different thematic sectors highlighted current realities.  Discussion focused on current efforts and the way forward to ensure safe communities and protection of the vulnerable.  On 18 August, capacity-building sessions were facilitated by selected non-governmental organisations.  There were also Round Table Collaborative Strategy discussions among stakeholders within the different thematic sectors to come up with a draft action plan for a collaborative effort to address the challenges.  The final day, 19 August, included an inter-faith prayer circle.

Various organisations participating in the conference included non-governmental organisations working within the sectors of social justice, prevention and reduction of abuse and domestic violence; sexual and reproductive health programmes; services engaging men and boys; those equipping parents of children living with disabilities and persons who are differently abled; as well as organisations focusing on the family unit. 

A conversation with the CEO of Artscape Theatre Centre, Marlene le Roux (far right), was screened at the conference. She is pictured with Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, Lillian Masebenza (centre), and Project Manager, Liezl van der Westhuizen.

Improving human rights

“Mhani Gingi wishes to contribute to enhancing the role of duty-bearers, community leaders, other non-governmental organisations also involved in this plight, government departments and service providers to improve the human rights and safety situation in the Western Cape.  The focus will be on uniting women from different backgrounds to ensure a renewed emphasis is placed on women’s health, restoring their dignity, empowering them economically and ensuring the safety of the vulnerable within our fragile communities,” said Masebenza.

The participative conference encouraged interaction between audiences and speakers so that discussions lead to implementable, co-created solutions and collaborative outcomes.  Important to note is that the work of this project will be ongoing towards establishing a programme, Masebenza said.

 Raising awareness around women’s health and lifestyle

Alexandra Charles, Founder and President of the 1.6 & 2.6 Million Club, addressed the Family Unit Participative Conference on how she built one of Sweden’s largest non-profit women’s organisations.  Carin Götblad, Regional Police Commissioner in Police Region Central, Uppsala, Sweden, and for two years a National Co-ordinator Against Domestic Violence, was another speaker.

Networking to prevent abuse of women and children

Claudia Burger, Programme Director at Activists Networking against the Exploitation of Children (Anex), addressed the subject of the influence of abuse on the family unit.  Aneleh le Roux, Training Manager at Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA), introduced the global campaign of Thursdays in Black initiated to combat rape and violence.

Another participant in the three-day conference was poet, playwright and performer, Malika Ndlovu, guest curator and presenter for BadilishaPoetry.com and a founder member of the Cape Town-based women writers’ collective, WEAVE.

 Preventing gender-based violence

Researcher for the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) at the Institute for Safety Governance in the Global South at the University of Cape Town, Giselle Warton, was among speakers.  Warton is also content manager of SaferSpaces, an online knowledge-sharing and networking portal for safety and crime prevention practitioners.

Another expert speaker was Dr Veronica Svedhem Johansson, Senior Consultant in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Karolinska University Hospital and Director of the Swedish HIV National Quality Assurance Registry.  Mark Kleinschmidt, Anglican Lay Minister and Ward 60 Councillor for the City of Cape Town, served as master of ceremonies on the first and last days.

The 1.6 Million Club Sweden, which raises awareness around women’s health and lifestyle issues and lobbies for fair, gender-based, medical research, funded the initiative together with Yennenga Progress, an organisation serving as an accelerator for development.

Raising awareness around women’s health and lifestyle

Alexandra Charles, Founder and President of the 1.6 & 2.6 Million Club, addressed the Family Unit Participative Conference on how she built one of Sweden’s largest non-profit women’s organisations.  Carin Götblad, Regional Police Commissioner in Police Region Central, Uppsala, Sweden, and for two years a National Co-ordinator Against Domestic Violence, was another speaker.

Networking to prevent abuse of women and children

Claudia Burger, Programme Director at Activists Networking against the Exploitation of Children (Anex), addressed the subject of the influence of abuse on the family unit.  Aneleh le Roux, Training Manager at Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA), introduced the global campaign of Thursdays in Black initiated to combat rape and violence.

Another participant in the three-day conference was poet, playwright and performer, Malika Ndlovu, guest curator and presenter for BadilishaPoetry.com and a founder member of the Cape Town-based women writers’ collective, WEAVE.

 Preventing gender-based violence

Researcher for the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) at the Institute for Safety Governance in the Global South at the University of Cape Town, Giselle Warton, was among speakers.  Warton is also content manager of SaferSpaces, an online knowledge-sharing and networking portal for safety and crime prevention practitioners.

Another expert speaker was Dr Veronica Svedhem Johansson, Senior Consultant in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Karolinska University Hospital and Director of the Swedish HIV National Quality Assurance Registry.  Mark Kleinschmidt, Anglican Lay Minister and Ward 60 Councillor for the City of Cape Town, served as master of ceremonies on the first and last days.

The 1.6 Million Club Sweden, which raises awareness around women’s health and lifestyle issues and lobbies for fair, gender-based, medical research, funded the initiative together with Yennenga Progress, an organisation serving as an accelerator for development.

 

 

Mhani Gingi Nursery makes a big move

The Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network Herb and Seedling Nursery – which supplies about 30 community gardens, established on the Cape Flats with the support of Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation and General Mills, United States of America, to boost food security and combat chronic poverty –  has relocated to new premises in Athlone in collaboration with the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.

Mhani Gingi had to move all its gardening operations to the new site by 30 June 2017 after being given notice to vacate premises previously occupied at Mupine at Old Mutual Head Office in Pinelands, where it has been part of the Tertiary School in Business Education (TSiBA) entrepreneurial wing since 2007.  The move entailed relocating three gardening tunnels; a hot house; two ‘Wendy’ houses; all plants and seedlings; as well as the tools and equipment.

Just Trees helped with the move.

The Mhani Gingi Herb and Seedling Nursery is maintained by two nurserywomen, Vuyiseka Tekwane and Siphokazi Sicetsha, who are trained in gardening skills by Mhani Gingi to propagate organic seedlings and tend the beds of vegetables, herbs and decorative plants that supply the community gardens.  This enables them to support their families through income earned by working in the nursery while produce from the nursery is also sold at fresh produce markets for funds.

A “big” thank you

Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, expressed a “big, big” thank you to Burcon Plant Hire CC and Ross Rubble Cycle who were engaged to prepare the new site.  Burcon Plant Hire cleared away rubble and vegetation and levelled the ground to make way for the gardening tunnels, the laying of beds for planting and the installation of irrigation.  Masebenza also thanked Just Trees who helped to move the trees and plants.

Siboniso Mbombo from Burcon Plant Hire CC and Lillian Masebenza set to clear the new site.

“Mhani Gingi hired a Digger Loader from Burcon Plant Hire from Blackheath Industria to clear the grass and rubble from the allocated space.  Mhani Gingi also contracted Ross Rubble Cycle to cart the rubble away.  About 43 loads of rubble and rubbish were moved by Ross Rubble Cycle.  We remain indebted to their services,” she said.

 

 

“We are excited about this initiative as we will now have a better and bigger space to showcase our Flagship Programme,” Masebenza added.  The partnership with Saartjie Baartman Centre will also provide vegetables for the centre’s kitchen as well as training women residents in gardening and supplementing the education of the children.

The cleared space.

Promoting healthy nutrition and food security

The Flagship Programme houses Mhani Gingi’s gardening and environmental activities which promote healthy nutrition and income generation among people who are vulnerable to food scarcity and chronic poverty.  This is achieved through establishing and managing the community food gardens and by providing communities with gardening skills.  Mhani Gingi, with the help of collaborative partners LegalWise, Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation and Swedish partners, has established a Centre of Excellence garden at ID Mkhize Senior Secondary School in Gugulethu where community gardeners are trained.

The Flagship Programme selling vegetables and herbs at a fresh produce market.

The Flagship Programme activities are supported by the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation; General Mills through United Way Worldwide; the Department of Social Development; the Department of Public Works through the Extended Public Works Programme; City of Cape Town; and others.

 

 

Gardening with the differently abled

The community gardens established by Mhani Gingi in various communities of the Cape Flats include a thriving food garden cultivated by about 30 differently abled people at Uitsig Community, gardening activities with five learners at Blouvlei School for children with special needs in Retreat, and vertical gardening with adults at Langa Cheshire Home for Adults.

Peter Sampson in the garden at Uitsig.

Besides cultivating healthy food to eat, the gardeners at Uitsig Community receive an income to augment the small disability grants that they receive.  Ultimately, Mhani Gingi plans to assist the Uitsig gardeners to register as a co-operative to enable them to supply produce to others, Masebenza said.

Katryn Booysen in the Garden of Angels.

 

 

Meanwhile, the Flagship Programme assists with the Garden of Angels established at Angels Paradise Early Childhood Development (ECD) facility in Ottery by Mhani Gingi’s Social Responsibility Programme.  ECD Principal, Katryn Booysen, has engaged parents in the garden which produces food for the farm community served by the ECD while also educating children of the ECD on the environment and cultivation.

 

 

 

Green energy

A challenge for the Mhani Gingi Nursery now is to find an alternative energy source to help pay for the electricity and water costs at the new premises.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Anyone who can assist Mhani Gingi Nursery with:

  • Supply of solar panels as an electricity source for the ‘Wendy Houses’;
  • Herb and vegetable seedlings;
  • Tunnels, water well and sprinklers; or
  • Any Assistance in Kind, will be welcomed.

Please contact Lillian Masebenza at +27 (0)21 531 8577 or +27 (0)82 465 4687. Or e-mail Lillian@mhanigingi.com.