Youth and elderly inspire community with food project

2016-06-08 06:00
          PHOTOS: THABANG MATHEBULA Einah Ntombela (front) with Sabelo Mbense and Lindokuhle Magwaza inside the tomato hothouse, which they will soon harvest from.

PHOTOS: THABANG MATHEBULA Einah Ntombela (front) with Sabelo Mbense and Lindokuhle Magwaza inside the tomato hothouse, which they will soon harvest from.

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THE youth and the elderly joined hands to put food on their tables in a mutually beneficial project.

A young township man is taking the lead in his community by helping elderly­ people run a profitable tomato hothouse.

Lindokuhle Magwaza (21) was inspired to grow tomatoes from a young age while visiting gogos in Imbali township, who were tending to tomato plants.

He would assist when his school ­schedule allowed, helping them load crates of tomatoes during harvest.

During his gap year after matric, Magwaza saw the opportunity he had been waiting for and started assisting the elderly full-time.

He got a post as an apprentice earlier this year, but said any spare time he gets, he dedicates to the hothouse. Being raised by his grandparents in Imbali, Magwaza had learnt that farming is a source of bringing food to the table.

“I believe that this project will bring a lot of change and hope to the community there. There is a lot of unemployment in the area and the youth have given themselves to drugs,” he said.

“It is a dog-eat-dog world out there because of the scarcity of jobs. This kind of community project is aimed at uplifting the community and teaching people skills.

“If we get funding to expand this site and have more tunnels, many young people could learn skills here. They can even start their own projects.”

The tomato hothouse started operating 11 years ago and was run by the elderly people in the area, who in return inspired a new generation of subsistence farmers, like Magwaza.

Magwaza said he envisaged growth for the Ixhibo (food store house) project.

Einah Ntombela (70), is one of the four elderly women who run the project, along with Ntobizodwa Sosiba­, Louisa Buthelezi and Nomfazwe­ Nxele.

Magwaza’s sister, Nontokozo, has also came on board with Zuziwe Buthelezi­. Ntombela said Magwaza was only a child when he started “playing at the hothouse site”.

Ntombela said there are challenges faced by the project.

“The first tunnel we acquired came out of our own pockets, then Eskom came to the rescue and donated three more,” she said.

Ntombela said tomatoes produced from the hothouse supply local spaza shops and markets and the community buys directly from them if they find them to be too expensive at the spaza shops.

“We need money for special chemicals­ to treat the plants against insects, to pay the electricity and water­ bills and buy sawdust,” she said.

Ntombela said they would welcome any help they could get.

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