South Coast earns three national awards

Nombuyiselo Mapongwana from Anglo American (second, from left) congratulates Thanda After-School represenatives (from left) Nosipho Sithole, Angela Larkan, Simiso Mfeka and Tyler Howard.

YOU may not have heard about the Siyavuna Development Centre and Thanda After-School, two local organisations that quietly get on with the task of making positive changes by alleviating poverty and social ills in our rural areas.

Recently, however, these two effective, well-run and innovative South Coast organisations were thrust into the limelight. Representatives attended the ‘Investing in the Future’ and ‘Drivers of Change’ awards evening in Johannesburg – and brought home three out of the eight prestigious national awards that were handed out that night.

The annual award programme is run by the Mail and Guardian and the Southern Africa Trust. It gives recognition to organisations that have been highly innovative in running programmes that drive positive change in South Africa. The organisations are judged on innovation, excellence and their potential to make and impact on policy at national level.

Health conscious South Coast shoppers might have been pleased to come across baskets of fresh, organic veggies sold under the Kumnandi brand, at local markets and various other outlets in our coastal towns. It is thanks to Siyavuna Development Centre that all this lovely, locally grown produce is now available.

Pictured at the awards evening are (from left)  Siyavuna Co-op manager Mthetho Mkhungo, Siyavuna director Diane Pieters, Shirley Moulder, a trustee of the Southern Africa Trust, Musa Zakwe the national manager of donor partner ICCO and Siyavuna board member Lucy Thornton.

Pictured at the awards evening are (from left) Siyavuna Co-op manager Mthetho Mkhungo, Siyavuna director Diane Pieters, Shirley Moulder, a trustee of the Southern Africa Trust, Musa Zakwe the national manager of donor partner ICCO and Siyavuna board member Lucy Thornton.

This Margate-based development centre trains and mentors organic farmers to develop successful micro enterprises in agriculture. Importantly, it also links them to markets, making the enterprises viable. This dynamic organisation works with 460 farmers in 10 areas in the Umdoni and the Hibiscus Coast Municipalities. Through its model, farmers grow organic produce, a valuable and much-sought after commodity in today’s market. Farmers join local farmers’ associations and an agri co-op that buys produce from farmers and sells it as Kumnandi produce.

At the awards ceremony, Siyavuna representatives were pleased to accept the national award in the Civil Society category. This was in recognition of its innovative agricultural programme developed to alleviate poverty by stimulating economic participation through agriculture in rural communities. Siyavuna was given this award because of its highly effective model, which is easy to learn, replicate and implement, encouraging similar systems in other areas.

The Investing in Life Award went to Thanda After-School, an organisation based in Mtwalume. The after-school works with many rural schools and feeds hot meals to more than 350 children each day. It also offers employment to people living in Mtwalume and a variety of education programmes to the young people of the area. In this way it helps them to overcome personal traumas and forge new futures for themselves.

Bhekinkosi Moyo from Southern Africa Trust hands the individual category award to Angela Larkan.

Bhekinkosi Moyo from Southern Africa Trust hands the individual category award to Angela Larkan.

The three main focus areas are education, life skills and empowerment and support. An entrepreneurship programme was started in 2012 and is proving to be effective, with 90 percent of the participants either finding employment in the trade they have studied at Thanda or starting their own business. Thanda also built the first library in the area and works to promote sustainable development for the environment.

This organisation was started by South African-born Angela Larkan and her partner, Tyler Howard, who returned to South Africa after studying overseas. They wanted to do something to help the rural poor, particularly the orphans and vulnerable children affected by the HIV/Aids epidemic.

When funding proved hard to secure, Angela decided to start the Thanda After-School programme herself to create a safe haven for children. Five years later, Thanda is still a thriving initiative, thanks to Angela’s visionary, innovation and pioneering ideas.

Her friends and colleagues were thrilled when she won the Individual Category Award for being the driving force behind the creation of a low-resource model that could help orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/Aids.

The award ceremony honoured Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela for his role in contributing to the well-being of society. To those at the gala evening, his words, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”, seemed specially relevant for the occasion.

  AUTHOR
Judi Davis
Reporter

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