As part of reaching out and championing its core foundation mandate which is to care, promote and invest in areas were it conducts its business, Eskom Foundation has taken the opposite route to inform the public about its programmes.
Instead of feeding the media with your usual ‘publicity stunts’ PR exercise the foundation invited the media to hop along on their national four-day CSI tour.
Our opening hosts were the New Jerusalem Children’s home in Midrand, which caters for almost eighty abandoned, HIV and orphaned kids who originate from neighbouring areas such as Tembisa and Ivory Park, etc.
Having begun operation 13 year’s ago, as a haven New Jerusalem built on 800 or so hectares also boast a crèche and pre-school for community, complemented by a strong 27 full-time staff.
The building consists of 28 creatively arranged containers and has been touted as ‘Africa’s first eco-friendly children’s home’, courtesy of Eskom Foundation.
“Yes, at first it was not an easy decision to execute but now we’re happy with the outcomes,” says the ecstatic sisters and founders Phina and Anna Mojapelo dressed to the nines!
Phina is a Social Worker and Anna an advocate by profession.
What made you venture into such a daunting task of establishing a home of this magnitude, I probe? “We’re mothers and as such we couldn’t let the nation suffer in front of our eyes,” they both responded with a huge giggle.
As we made a brief tour of the venue which boasts solar heating, green house, lighting panels, and use artificial lighting during the day, Nontobeko Kubayi (13) ably led us to both boys and girls rooms.
As ‘shy’ as she is, she boastingly whispered to yours truly that she plays netball and likes Nikky Minaj music.
“I like it here co’s were happy, safe and play as a unit. There’s no bad mouthing when one forgets to wash the bathroom after using it,” she gesticulates with her hands all over.
“Ntobs” as she’s known is neatly dressed in school uniform and hair nicely combed attends the African Union International School in Austin View.
“I’m going to be some one, one day and thanks to Jerusalem I’m seeing that light,” she says joyously.
Haylene Liberty (who gave us the liberty to meet) is the Chief Executive for the Eskom Foundation and was on point when she said they’ve decided to do things differently this time around.
As the foundation we decided after an intense soul-searching to invite the media to receive such kind of information first-hand. It’s called transparency.
On the CSI, she said” “Our mandate as the foundation is to try and reach out to many a project as possible. Yes, we cannot support everyone but the little we have would be allocated in support and development of our communities. That’s what sells us.
“Our belief is to support organizations which our business operates from,” she says.
“Organizations’ such as Jerusalem and others fully depicts the core value of Ubuntu; and as the foundation we fully support such projects, however, we cannot as well do it alone. We need other sectors to come on board and help were possible.”
Due to solar lighting the green house is always on in the event of power failure.
“Our children can do their home work and other chores when electricity fails,” explains Mojapelo. She also made a calling to other companies to help by donating books and boxes, etc.
A roof garden above the lounge area add to the aesthetic but also provides thermal mass for additional insulation.
As we concluded the day activity, Montessori Pre- School choir lyrically waxed the departing crew as they belted out their favourite all time hymns. Hallelujah!
They can be reached at: www.newjerusalem.co.za or 011 805-0809
Having received the morning prayer, we set off to Mpumalanga at Dullstroom for milking session at Coromandel Farm.
Yep, milking session although these ‘bloody agents’ grew cold feet on how to milk the cow, yours’ truly was all over the place and our host Sandisiwe unceremoniously received a warm welcome from one of the cows. Ok, let’s live that for another lively day…
Coromandel Farm boasts 248 beneficiaries who originate from near-by communities, according to well spoken Sipho Ngwenyama, who is the HR and Adm Manager.
The farm produces tons of blue-berries (which are exported to Europe), meal, milk, etc.
With a staff complement of 80 and could rise when the harvesting season close-by, the farm is considered one of the economical ‘cash-cows’ in the province with unconfirmed reports clogging R5m per annum.
“We are a productive farm with so many potentials to add into the economy and creation of jobs in our province, “says Ngwenyama in overalls and gumboots.
The 5850 square metre farm is the recipient of the Eskom Foundation following the donation of milking equipments and other machinery.
We’re also part of the Coromandel Farmers Trust which oversees the daily operation of the farm, says Ngwenayama.
Emmah Makua who has been with the farm since 1995, is responsible for dairy milking. According to her, she oversees that all the machines are operational, clean and staff is on time.
Day 2: Nelspruit
Mobile Agri Skills Development & Training (Masdt) hosts media brief and tour. Firstly, in the morning we attend briefing accompanied by sumptuous breakfast.
The purpose is to inform us about its activities and what it entails.
Vusi Sigudla (33) a B-Tech graduate from Unisa is a Programme Incubation Business Development Co-ordinator who’s responsible for six other officers in the Mpumalanga province.
Originally from Pretoria, Sigudla’s daily schedule is to run training skills workshops, virtual incubation and skills planning in the Agriculture for potential and already decorated farmers.
“Ours is to help future farmers particularly those in black communities to understand the nitty-gritty’s of agriculture and farming.
Another element which prohibits growth is our youth’s who are not keen to come on board to learn they want quick buck which is unfortunate, “ he says.
“Despite that, we try hard to involve them and with help of the foundation; possibly the trend will change for the better.”
Lynette Bezuidenthout, MD at MASDT says youth’s interest and participation would help in reducing poverty and illiteracy within their communities.
Then we skidded off to Timbali Technology Incubator and meet Marliese Roux, farming skills manager.
Timbali produces goods such as Amablom (flowers), Amaveg and Ama Spice to the outside world and of course, our own Woolies.
Having received the steam and fridge machines from the foundation, Timbali promises to exceed what they’re currently producing within the three year’s.
Close to 33 workers does magic at Timbali set-up and according to Roux, empowering women is their core business and tips the balance in favour of the start-up farmer by using a cluster model to increase economy of scale.
For more info go to:www.timbali.co.za
Day 3: (Cape Town)
Everything was smooth sailing until we landed in Khayalitsha at Unakho Children’s home.
It is operated by (I& J) which stands for Irene and Julius –wife and husband. Pastor Julius Bonani opens the gathering with a prayer!
The ‘un-cared‘ for home received container from the foundation but if, truth be told it ain’t enough. Eskom Foundation has been supporting the home for the past three year’s.
Having widened its wings since 2007, the home caters for 22 abandoned children thus far, and according to Pastor Bonani, this could increase as winter periods forges in.
“As you can see, we’re grateful with what we have but the bottom line is we’re having sleepless nights on how we could improve the situation,” he said with dejected face.
Some of the kids who were at school upon our arrival are compelled to share a sleep in clean but congested rooms built using corrugated zinc.
Asked the Pastor, what would he like to see change, he said unapologetically: “to see these kids living in better conditions and other local businesses helping out?”
As we bounced off, we donated couple of rands!
These kinds of stories and conditions can either make or break you…
Next on the list was Goedgedacht-easily translated good-thinking.
It is perched in the far-flung areas of Cape Town with majestic views and restless valleys.
The famous Olives and Olive Oils are produced from this thousand hectares area. According to Ingrid Lestrade, Manager at the farm- they run 27 projects and 32 farms with and on behalf of communities surrounding Goedgedacht.
The farm supplies Olives to huge retail shops locally PnP, Woolies, and abroad. Apart from that they also produce wines but not on larger scale.
As part of giving back to communities the farm and the trust has built recreation centers, offer training and created jobs, amongst others, through the selling of Olive tree retailing for R400.
“That is our core business which keeps this entire farm running and our communities alive, “says Lestrade.
On tour, notably some Olive trees are named after famous figures such as Nelson Mandela, and so forth.
For more info go to:www.goedgedacht.org.za
Arrive at Creating Effective Families in Mossel Bay (Nonqcoba location) for our final stop. It caters for abused men and women. The purpose of the home is to inculcate hope and togetherness amongst the abused.
Pyschological therapy and other forms of reaching out to the community are the orders of the day for those not working.
Knitting and baking are some of the things which keep everyone busy and occupied.
Karin Geldenhuys, Director at the Centre, says we strive to be at our utmost best and in good frame of mind when reaching out to these people considering were they come from.
“With the donation of Eskom Foundation, this would go a long way in making sure we attain our goals which is to help, educate and foster relationship between us and communities,” she said.
“I was abused from an early stage until we got married by the same husband. He would beat me up whilst pregnant and that kind of a pain is hard to disappear, “says one lady whose identity is known to Sowetolife Mag Online.