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“The [chickens] we were blessed with changed our lives. We ate the eggs to get protein and to be healthy. This Heifer project has improved my livelihood. Now I have realised the important role that can be played by livestock to provide food and generate income through selling,” said Mrs Veliswa Winangile, a 57 year old member of Heifer International South Africa’s Mzamomhle Mavathulana project in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Heifer International South Africa (Heifer) assists poor rural farmers in South Africa on their way to a sustainable and food secure life. Through various tools such as training and the gifts of seeds, trees and livestock, Heifer gives poor rural people the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and start their own small farming businesses. With knowledge and livestock, project members are able to feed their families and also generate income through selling egg, milk or vegetables.
One of persons assisted by Heifer is Mrs Veliswa Winangile from Mavathula Village. She started to work with Heifer in 2004 when she attended various trainings on livestock management, record keeping and crop production. After a few months of training, Heifer provided her with 18 chickens, two bags of feed, a cage, and shortly thereafter, three goats. With her husband unemployed, Veliswa knew she had to do everything she could to provide a better future for her husband, her two children and herself.
She created a big vegetable garden and started to produce maize, spinach, onions, beetroot, green pepper, butternut, cabbage and potatoes. Everyday access to her own vegetables not only cut the family’s expenses on food but also improved their nutrition. The health of the family has improved and the number of visits to the clinic has decreased. Veliswa generates approximately R500 per month by selling extra vegetables as well as eggs from her chickens.
After years of hard work as a small farmer in the Mzamomhle Mavathulana project, Veliswa’s life has changed significantly. During the last few years, she was able to start saving and buy various household items such as a freezer and a tap. Veliswa also sold two of her goats’ offspring. Both her children now have jobs in Port Elizabeth. Change also came from Heifer’s side. The organisation exited the project in October 2011 in recognition of the fact that Veliswa and the other members of the Momomhle project are now successful small farmers able to continue their businesses on their own. This allows Heifer to go on to assist other communities in need.
Veliswa doesn’t plan to stop now. She is planning to purchase more chickens and goats and generate more income from selling eggs and milk. When asked for her opinion about the project she said appreciatively, “Thank you Heifer for the difference you have made in our lives.”