When Phyllis Malope, 65, started the Philani Community Development Centre in Zuurbekom on the West Rand of Johannesburg in 2001, all she wanted to do was to play a part in helping a desperately poor community.
Little did she know that, 18 years later, her efforts would help a young girl reach a long-held dream to travel overseas.
Busisiwe Khaoue grew up in the impoverished community of Zuurbekom and spends many weekends participating in the extra maths and science lessons offered at the Philani Community Development Centre. She also benefits from the centre’s food garden, which is thriving thanks to its partnership with Shoprite.
The unemployment and matric dropout rates in Zuurbekom are high and so Malope started offering extra lessons on Saturdays to assist high school pupils.
When an opportunity came up through her high school, Protea Glen Secondary, Busisiwe set her sights on it as she had always wanted to travel overseas. She was thrilled to be chosen and went on to particiate in a public speaking programme for young women in Canada last year. The Philani Community Development Centre is proud of her achievements and is also looking forward to seeing Busisiwe matriculating this year.
The centre has grown over the years and today consists of 101 community members, who help in the skills development centre, community health centre, nursery school and food garden. At first the small food garden just sold produce to hawkers and shops in Bekkersdal, but with support from Shoprite it now provides nutritious meals for about 450 beneficiaries.
Spinach, beetroot and onions are among the vegetables grown in the garden. The produce is either used in the centre’s feeding scheme or forms part of food parcels that are regularly distributed in the Zuurbekom community.
Anibal Mondlane has been working in the community food garden since 2001 when he donated cabbage seeds to help get the crops going. Initially the garden struggled as the area is dry and the soil is loamy. Luckily Shoprite stepped in to help revive the garden.
“Education is important and we have a teacher from the high school, Moses Bie, who volunteers on Saturdays. learners like Busisiwe know him and benefit from the extra lessons.”Phyllis Malope
The retailer also installed water infrastructure and erected a fence around the 4ha garden.