In Mbombela the team went to two neighbouring centres: Uthando House Care, which is home to 26 children, some of whom are orphans and vulnerable due to child trafficking and family neglect, where they cleaned the premises, played games with the children, and planted two trees. Clothes and knitted blankets were also donated to the centre. At Mshadza Care, which looks after mentally and physically disabled children, the UMP team assisted by planting fruit and vegetables.
Founder of Uthando House Care, Ms Tracy Malope voiced her gratitude to staff and students of UMP.
“We appreciate what the University of Mpumalanga has done for us today. Coming to our place of safety today, shows that they care about our kids. The garden is what we needed the most, as it will ensure the centre has enough food supply. This is a relief to us. It will go a long way.”
Engagement and Continuing Senior Manager, Mr Sithembiso Mbuyane, who was also involved in educating the children and caregivers on how to plant and sustain a garden, said: “We engaged in many activities such as planting vegetables, macadamia nuts for protein and citrus for vitamin C.
The Mbombela team was led by Professor Moses Mbewe.
“During the planning we also educated the kids and caregivers on the type of fruit and vegetables they are going to harvest and how to plant the donated seedlings once they have space for new crops"
Mr Mbuyane added: “The UMP ladies cleaned the centre and donated knitwear which they knitted during their free time. It was uplifting to see the kids having fun with some UMP students.”
At Siyabuswa, activities included establishing food gardens for food security, and visiting child-headed families. “The situation in the households is very bad because the only time they can buy food is when they receive the government grant. After that there is nothing,” said Siyabuswa campus marketing officer, Mr Sello Ngema.
Mr Ngema further explained that at Phephelani home-based centre, they donated knitwear and clothes. Some of the activities was planting trees, and cleaning the Bheki Mfundo Street, which leads up to UMP campus.
The team at Siyabuswa planted vegetable gardens at Sitimise Centre.
“We gave advice on planting, and have committed to making this an ongoing project as we have started following up and checking the progress of the gardens so that the families and community can sell some of those vegetables to earn an extra income.
Going forward, we need to work with the local municipalities, counsellors and stakeholders and see how we can improve the lives of our people. Involving the community will make a difference on a larger scale," said Mr Ngema.
Some of the other activities on the day included training and designing of infield rainwater harvesting structures, hand over seeds and seedlings to Tekwane West Community Garden, which is run by grannies and women who produce food for sustenance.
At Kabokweni Care Centre, the team established a vegetable garden, donated equipment for watering the garden, and interacted with learners. At Sitimisele Centre in eMbonisweni, they offered grass cutting and plumbing services to fix leaks.
The Siyabuswa team also cleared bushes in areas considered to be crime hotspots and unsafe for students and the local community. In addition, they planted trees and cleaned at Maganagobuswa Aid Project.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures supplied.