#Join the Conversation

by Nkanyiso Nzimande

Mrs Mkhize (60) has caught the eye of not only Zusiphe Goat Project members but Heifer International South Africa (Heifer) staff and her community at large with her unconventional yet innovative goat shelter. This mother of two and grandmother to four grandchildren; Ayabonga (4), Snenhlanhla (3), Nhlakanipho (14) and Syabonga (5), shattered boundaries and built the walls of her goat shelter from sticks and mud. Mrs Mkhize is a member of Heifer's Zusiphe Goat Project who received goats through the Passing on the Gift® in 2014. At the heart of Heifer's work lies Passing on the Gift. This simple yet powerful concept allows families to become the cycle of positive change; those who received Heifer gifts become donors and Pass on the Gift of possibilities and shared successes to others in the community.

With Nkandla's current weather patterns and having experienced fierce winter blizzards, it is critical that the animals are well insulated in keeping with Heifer's cornerstone of Improved Animal Management. Farmers learn how to keep their animals safe, healthy and productive. The mud walls are ideal as they remain cool in summer, warm in winter. The shelters are inexpensive and require minimal maintenance. When questioned what had triggered her to build the walls out of mud she responded, "I realised that in winter goats will get cold as I had no metal sheeting." Her kraal is not the only place she treasures; amongst others is her vegetable garden, which boasts leafy green kale for her family and goats. She has also sown the seeds of success in her children and grandchildren. The "green fingers" gene must run in the family as Nhlakanipho, her grandson, also enjoys gardening and animal husbandry. We are certain that success of this family will remain for generations to come all through the teachings and gifts from Heifer International South Africa. 

The Zusiphe Project is located near Nkandla in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province. The project began with 104 project members. During the first few months of the project, project families focused on vegetable production. Fruit trees and vegetable seedlings were distributed to all members and families planted very successful vegetable gardens. For many, this was the first time they had planted winter vegetables, ensuring healthy food for their families all year around. With the support of Heifer, the project also set up a mini-nursery to produce new seedlings. All 104 project members have received goats. The project members continue to work well together. Over the coming year, 104 Pass-on members will be trained and begin benefitting from the mini-nursery, bringing the total number of the project members to 208. An agricultural hub, with a small agricultural store, a market place and an auction facility for livestock is also planned for this project.

Heifer International South Africa is a community development organisation that works with poor, rural families to end poverty and hunger in South Africa and care for the earth. This is achieved through training, on-going support and providing small inputs to support rural families to become successful small- scale farmers.

To find out more about this project and other projects please visit www.Heifer.org.za