Isipho’s programs focus on two problems defined by the local Integrated Development Plan as the top priorities for iNzinga: developing a secure, sustainable food supply, and reducing illiteracy. These two issues are intertwined, as malnourished children can’t learn, and illiterate children can’t lift themselves out of poverty. Isipho’s programs are designed to create self-sufficiency. We do not replace poverty with dependency.
Food Security Challenge:
iNzinga’s malnutrition is not the result of a lack of food. It is the result of a lack of nutritious foods. Because they lack fresh vegetables in their diet, residents of iNzinga are deficient in the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. The result has been stunted growth, birth defects, high infant mortality, and chronic illness. Even though they live in an area where it is possible to grow vegetables, people in the village cannot afford fencing, tools or starter seeds to grow their own vegetables. Additionally, their long-term inability to afford to grow vegetables eventually resulted in a loss of gardening knowledge.
Our Food Security Program:
Isipho provides posts, fencing, start-up seeds and seedlings, gardening tools, and vegetable gardening training to participating families and schools. By teaching garden recipients how to garden successfully, and then making them responsible to teach others, every garden we put in place is a step toward many more successful food gardens. When we put in place a garden, we give them everything they need to successfully provide for themselves and support their neighbors on an ongoing basis.
As of 2011, we have created 40 family gardens, and there is now a large community garden at every school and crèche in iNzinga, totaling nearly 800 square meters of gardens!
The best part of our Food Security Program has sprung from the villagers without any input from Isipho, and demonstrates the positive effects that gardening can have on the village. After our first year of gardening programs in iNzinga, we asked the schools to report on their successes and challenges they met that year. We were so excited to hear that two of the school gardens were so successful that they had enough vegetables to feed the children every day, and they were able to sell the excess vegetables to villagers who didn’t have their own garden. The schools then used that money to purchase school supplies and books!
Isipho has recently begun work on a community library in iNzinga. Until now, villagers (and most importantly, secondary school students) had no access to a library, as the closest one is an expensive and time-consuming bus ride away, which makes it inaccessible to people in iNzinga. We were extremely lucky that there was an empty room at one of the secondary schools which was not being used for anything else. Isipho was given permission to outfit the room as a library. In August 2010 we hired a local craftsman to build shelves, tables and benches for the room. We are currently filling the shelves with books. Our main goal is to provide enough reference and research books that secondary school students will be able to complete all the necessary classes, and pass the graduation test, so that they will have the opportunity to go to college. In addition, we will provide general interest books in both English and Zulu languages, so that younger children and adults can use the library.