So, Khayelitsha is a big ‘town’ on the Cape Flats about 30 minutes drive from Cape Town centre itself. The children’s home comprises of x11 ‘cluster houses’ (where 8 children aged 5-18 live with their cluster mum) and a baby house with x18 0-5 year olds. This area is all within the confines or a walled compound (razor wire on top of the walls) which is locked after hours so that no one can come in or out without the security guys unlocking gates.
The surrounding buildings are a combination of basic one story small houses and tin shacks. Baphumelele is on the outskirts of the town so it has easier access to the main roads out – which is where we have to go to visit the farm. The Fountain of Hope project is for 18-21 year olds (of which there are 12 currently) to learn how to be self sufficient, and by participating in the ‘Work Readiness Programme‘ they will learn about how to prepare CV’s, growing crops, computer literacy and sports etc which should put them in good stead for standing on their own feet once they leave. They have certainly endured a variety of characters though, and as they are not a rehab centre, they are not equipped with staff to deal with abuse/drugs/drink and difficult adolescents whose priorities are not to help themselves.
Near to the children’s home they have set up “Rosie’s Bakery” and a soup kitchen as well as a sewing project. These four (including the farm) go under the heading of ‘income generating projects’ however there is currently an underlying flaw … they are not generating enough income. I think the idea is that one day they can be partly self-sufficient which will also help to apply for donations and sponsorship for the projects to keep them running. One of the main reason that they have been slower than perhaps hoped in growing is they haven’t been able to afford for one person to be entirely dedicated to the projects; overseeing and organise the running and production as well as the marketing of the products.
This is kind of where I come in.
A few weeks ago one of the managers and myself were having a little brain storm about what skills/passions I have and it came about that there were these issue areas and that I had a little experience in both marketing and accounting as well as having a bit of a business mind so maybe these projects would be a good place to start.
While they were preparing the figures for the bakery, soup kitchen and sewing project, I made a start on plans for the farm which is, in my opinion, the largest project for me and potentially the best income generator – with approximately 2-3 acres of land divided up into 4 “phases” with 30-40 beds in each phase. Currently the gardeners are great at growing seedlings and planting them in their beds with a fantastic success rate, but now we need to try and focus attentions towards getting the vegetables out of the ground at the right time in order for them to be counted, marketed and sold.
My task: Mapping the beds for not only the types of vegetables which are currently growing but also extras; which will be about 15 in total. This is so that we know exactly how many of each vegetable to grow and when, in order to have the correct numbers harvested at the correct times through out the year … now I am not sure if you think that sounds easy but after a few days of scribbling furiously and trying to work it out I didn’t feel much further ahead at all!
After all, the various vegetables grow at different times of the years for different lengths of times – not even contemplating the idea that some seeds might not germinate at all!! So as you can imagine, I have been quite busy trying to get my head around this while all of the time more seeds are being put in and seedlings are going in the beds … I had better rush back soon and see how much has changed so that my “calculations” can be useful and we can begin ‘The Plan’!