Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network is a non-profit organisation which for the past 15 years has pursued a mission to alleviate poverty and hunger through providing sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable communities, mostly situated in the greater Cape Town area.
Since May 2020, Mhani Gingi has received welcome twice-weekly donations of vegetables, rice, maize and other supplies from the Ladles of Love initiative. These donations have boosted the efforts of Mhani Gingi’s three Soup Stations situated in Mannenberg/Athlone, Uitsig Community, and at Blouvlei LSN School for Learners with Special Needs in Retreat. Each of the food stations feeds about 200 people, totalling about 600 vulnerable individuals being assisted by Mhani Gingi at each of the three stations per week.
The three Soup Stations represent the target groups of Mhani Gingi, which include vulnerable women and children, people with disabilities, and youth with special needs.
Mhani Gingi network member, Gladys Gobodo, feeds vulnerable children in the Mannenberg/Athlone area of the Cape Flats. A group of 25 people with disabilities under team leader, Vanessa Baadjies, maintains community food gardens at Uitsig Primary School and at the Uitsig Community Centre, supervised by Mhani Gingi. The group also provides a community soup kitchen which feeds elderly and hungry people in Uitsig.
“These are not just once-off soup kitchens but a continuation of our work with vulnerable groups in our communities,” said Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi. “I am so thankful for the donations from Ladles of Love which goes so well with the work we are doing on a daily basis.”
The supplies from Ladles of Love are distributed by the team from Mhani Gingi Organic Herb and Seedling Nursery, led by Project Co-ordinator, Tabisa Mahlathi, to the cooks preparing food at the three Soup Stations.
Ladles of Love supplies soup kitchens and shelters, supporting more than 100 beneficiaries and non-profit entities in the Cape Town area, according to the organisation’s website. Ladles of Love has expanded its activities significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the website said. The Ladles of Love initiative started in 2014 when Danny Diliberto was inspired to reach out to homeless people.
“Mhani Gingi is very passionate about inclusivity for vulnerable and marginalised groups,” said Masebenza. “The United Nations Member States pledged with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ‘that no one will be left behind’. That is what we are doing, ensuring that vulnerable and marginalised groups are not being left behind.”
Mhani Gingi’s Centre of Social Entrepreneurial Excellence situated at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Athlone showcases innovations to include persons with disabilities in urban agriculture. These include vertical gardens which enable people in wheelchairs to participate in urban gardening.
Read more on the Mhani Gingi website at: www.mhanigingi.com . Or contact Lillian Masebenza at 082 465 4687.
Nursery celebrates its first harvest at the new centre of excellence site
The Mhani Gingi Organic Herb and Vegetable Seedling Nursery celebrated its first harvest at the new Centre of Excellence site in Athlone, Cape Town, on 1 October 2018 by honouring the many partners in its efforts to boost food security and to provide healthy nutrition in vulnerable communities.
Invited guests who received gifts of vegetables and herbs – including spinach, lettuce, beetroot and turnips freshly picked from the gardens – included Bernadine Bachar, Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. Collaboration with the Saartjie Baartman Centre enabled Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network to relocate the Mhani Gingi Nursery to the new site in mid-2017.
Other partners of Mhani Gingi who were thanked with gifts of produce from the nursery gardens were team leader Vanessa Baadjies of Mandla Sport 4 Change and 14 gardeners from Uitsig Community in Ravensmead, as well as Cordelia Romes, Principal of the Blouvlei School for Learners with Special Needs in Retreat.
Another guest and partner of Mhani Gingi who was honoured at the first harvest was Dianne Fritz of Zest for Life. Hilary Cloete, representing the Pick n Pay Ackerman Foundation who were sponsors of the Flagship Programme incorporating the Mhani Gingi Nursery, also received a box of mixed fresh produce.
Supporting community gardens
The team numbering 18 gardeners at Uitsig Community have disabilities and maintain three food gardens, situated at Uitsig Primary School and Uitsig Community Centre. The Mhani Gingi Nursery supplies seedlings and expertise to these and 21 other community gardens in the greater Cape Town area. The majority of these other gardens are not in operation presently as a result of the water crisis caused by drought in the Western Cape.
Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger
This work of Mhani Gingi aims to contribute towards achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.
Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, used the symbolic occasion of the first harvest from the new grounds to emphasise the importance of collaboration and to express her appreciation to organisations who partner with Mhani Gingi in efforts towards eradicating chronic poverty. Guests were served refreshments of cooked African spinach, Morogo, and fresh beetroot by the Mhani Gingi Nursery.
Kate Marais, Corporate Social Investment facilitator of Food Lover’s Market, was another guest. Also in attendance were Cheryl Harper of WE CAN CHANGE OUR WORLD, Professor Gail Hughes who supports Mhani Gingi’s health project through the 1.6 Million Club South Africa, and Mhani Gingi Trustee Joan Wright, leader of the Restoring Dignity soap-making project located at the Saartjie Baartman Centre.
The soap-making factory delivered a record order of 200 bottles of 250ml of hand-made natural liquid soap that morning to the SaVI Conference 2018 organisers.
Wright congratulated her team and the Mhani Gingi Nursery team led by Flagship Programme Co-Ordinator, Tabisa Mahlathi, as well as expressing Mhani Gingi’s appreciation for the successful collaboration with the Saartjie Baartman Centre.
Cape Community Newspapers were present to record the first harvest event.
“We would like to thank Jasper Terblanche, owner of Landorf Nursery in Olieboom, Schaapkraal, who donated the seedlings from which today we are having these wonderful crops with an amazing yield. This harvest would not have been possible, had it not been for his generous donation. Nangomso!!” said Masebenza.
Nursery ‘Centre of Excellence’ is growing
The ‘Centre of Excellence’ at Mhani Gingi’s Organic Herb and Vegetable Seedling Nursery is growing with the acquisition of new growing tunnels at the Nursery’s new site in Athlone, Cape Town. The relocation of the Nursery this year, from its original site in Pinelands, took place in a collaboration with Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
The move has added impetus to the Nursery’s activities which include a hot house for seedling propagation, a ground garden, growing tunnels, a hanging/vertical garden to accommodate physically disabled people and a training facility for community gardeners, to enhance the ‘Centre of Excellence’ initiative. The Nursery supports 30 community gardens established and maintained by Mhani Gingi in the greater Cape Town area.
Mhani Gingi’s Flagship Programme houses the organisation’s environmental and urban gardening activities and efforts to promote healthy nutrition. Tabisa Mahlathi, Co-Ordinator of Mhani Gingi’s Flagship Programme, said: “A large portion of people in disadvantaged communities do not have access to acquire sufficient food quality to have all of its family members meet their nutritional requirements and lead productive lives.
“As the Mhani Gingi Flagship Programme, we are working together with the communities, churches, early learning centres, old age homes, prisoners, and disabled homes (in) different communities in the Western Cape Province, creating food gardening to help them bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
“The food gardening in the communities helps households to have access to organically propagated vegetables,” she said.
Involving the community of Athlone
Mahlathi said Mhani Gingi has been networking and investigating surrounding schools, places of worship and facilities to find out “how can we work from the inside out with the people of Athlone community.” The vision is to involve the community in what Mhani Gingi is trying to do in the Flagship Programme, namely, trying to alleviate extreme poverty in our disadvantaged communities.
“By doing this we are hoping that people will have access to healthy and nutritious food, (and to) create job opportunities for the youth around the community by means of doing their own food gardens at their back yards so that they will be able to sell their produce and have something which will keep them busy instead of them focusing on drugs,” Mahlathi said.
Food kitchen brings hope
The produce from a community vegetable garden that is cultivated by 24 differently abled people at Uitsig Community Centre and at Uitsig Primary School, in Uitsig community on the Cape Flats, is shared with the elderly at old age homes in the area and supports a food kitchen which was started at the Community Centre to provide access to nutritional food for the community.
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.