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Woman's Day

Good Hope Volunteers is fortunate to work with a number of influential and strong women who make a difference in South Africa through their tireless efforts. One notable woman that Good Hope Volunteers works with is Bushra, the co-founder of the 100 homes project in Mitchells plain. Bushra started out as a volunteer at the Batuil Ansaar home for three months, two years later she is still a prominent feature working tirelessly to make the home a safe place for the children of Mitchells Plain.

Baitul Ansaar is a child and youth care centre in Beacon Valley, Mitchel’s Plain. They are a non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection, support and development of children who have been orphaned, neglected, abused or abandoned. They are also a home to approximately 42 children. Baitul Ansaar is also a great example of an innovative social enterprise that branches aims to branch out beyond the walls of the centre to encourage the participation and inclusion of the community as a whole.

The home was finding that fostering of children was often very short lived and aimed to find out why this was. They then started the '100 homes' project. It is an ongoing project that collects data from each home in community to find out the challenges they face on a daily base, it was found that a lot of the homes did not have the financial ability to afford food for the children, then forcing the children to be sent back to Baitul Ansaar. The organic garden was then set up for the community and the community exchange project was born. This project aims to include the community as a whole in a community exchange programme. Community exchange projects use non monetary resources to exchange skills and goods. Community exchange projects have gained popularity in recent years as the capitalistic system can exclude those who are without. For Mitchells Plain, a below average income community, this offers a new and alternative way to money exchange. Residents rather exchange resources and skills within the community. For example, in order to collect vegetables from the garden, the residents need to exchange a non monetary resource or skill. It has also branched out to a number of different skills exchanges.

Another example is one resident who is a professional karate instructor holds weekly self defence classes at the orphanage for women. In exchange, women who join the class are asked to bring along a non monetary resource. The group brings grey water (water collected from their showers, baths or left over dish water). This water is then used for the community organic garden. This is a great alternative exchange as Cape Town is facing its worst drought in 100 years, and water restrictions are now at 4b- meaning there are very strict restrictions on water use. This resource exchange ensures that the community garden gets water, whilst saving water and gaining a skill in the community that is beneficial to empowering women. The instructor then gains points for teaching the group that she can exchange for other resources or skills being offered such as plants from the garden.

There are also weekly girl empowerment groups at the orphanage that hold meetings that aim to improve and empower women, lessons on organic gardening and seed planting and other beneficial skill exchanging.

Another example of a successful skill exchange in the community is the exchange of skills between neighbours. During the 100 homes data collection, it was found that an elderly lady within the community was finding to difficult to get up in the morning, whilst her neighbour couldn’t go to work as she had to stay home to look after her child and did not have money to send her child to day care. The younger women now helps the elderly lady get up in the morning, making her breakfast, helping her get changed and in exchange the elderly lady looks after her child while she goes to work.

We should also mention our very own super women in the Good Hope Volunteers office, Vanessa Random. Vanessa is the driving force behind making all these projects available to volunteers from around the world. Happy women’s day to all the strong women out there! (Photos by: Batuil Ansaar)

To be part of our amazing volunteer community, please contact us.