BBL PARTICIPANT: Albert and Rebecca Ralepelle, Mfidikwe, Rustenburg, Northwest
In a Nutshell
Through their participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Mr and Mrs Ralepelle from Mfidikwe in the North-West Province have gained additional agricultural knowledge. They are experiencing improved health and learning to budget and save for a better tomorrow.
Albert: I grew up in Ga-Modjadji, Limpopo in the Bolobedu region. That part of the world is so abundant, everything grows well there – mangos, avocados, litchis – I miss that – but a man must work. I have been here on these mines for over thirty years. I arrived in this area as a young man, and I have spent most of my adult life working as a boilermaker. I met my wife here and we were married here in 1989. Our children were born here. Our grandchildren too. Over time this place has come to feel like part of my soul – so much so that when I retire, I would like to stay in this area. Limpopo is beautiful but this is now my home.
I am due to retire in 3-years-time and I am starting to make plans for my life after mining. It is important to have a clear sense of direction. Success doesn’t just happen – it is the result of careful planning. One of the great things about meeting Mr Kwena and the other people from SocioTech is that they are showing us the skills we need to shape those plans.
Rebecca: Like my husband said, we want to stay around here, but our dream is to move onto a space with more land so that we can really push forward with our farming. What you see here in this garden is a start – we have some good quality crops and a few fruit trees, and we are selling – but we can do better and bigger. My hope is to find additional land so that we can increase the small-scale operation you see now into a big farm with enough space for fruit orchards and goats and traditional chickens and eggs.
"Our garden is like a growing advertisement."
I have always been good with business – it suits my personality – I like selling and talking to customers. Even when I was a little girl, my mother would send me around the neighbourhood to sell the vegetables she grew. So, I would like to use those skills I have to start a shop or a bottle store too. I know that farming and owning a shop is hard work, but I hope that we will also have time to sit in the shade with our grandchildren. I hope that some of those trees in that fruit orchard are peach trees because my mother taught me how to make delicious peach jam. Fresh bread straight from the oven with butter and jam, that is what she used to make when I was a child, and I would love to taste those tastes and smell those smells again with my grandchildren.
Albert: Even though we have both been gardening since we were children, my wife and I have learnt so much from Mr Kwena. We have only known him for a few months, but our garden already looks much better. When he first told us about all that digging and collecting of tins and bones and grass and paper, I was uncertain about whether it would make a difference, but we decided as a family that we would give it a try. We came together and we got it done.
The results are obvious. The soil is so much better and just look at how beautiful these crops are. The effort was definitely worth it. People pass and see how green and big our vegetables are and they ask to buy. Our garden is like a growing advertisement. People see that deep green, shiny spinach and Mochina growing, and they want to buy.
"We eat from our garden..."
Also, we have to talk about how gardening this way, without chemicals, has improved our health. We eat from our garden and we both feel so much healthier than before. It has only been a few months but already my blood sugar has dropped. That’s why we say that Kwena is number 1. If you have your health, you can do anything. Without health you have nothing.
My wife takes our grandchildren into the garden with her. They like to help with the weeding and watering, and she likes to have them there. They are small and sometimes they make mistakes, but they are learning. They learn about gardens with her but also about other things too. My wife teaches the children traditional songs and church songs. The kids like it and I think the plants do too.
"It takes time but if you persist, the results come. "
Rebecca: Because we are planning for the next stage of our lives, the saving and budgeting lessons that we got from SocioTech have been very useful.
We are selling from our garden and putting the money aside and in December we will see how much has been saved. Saving is hard but we are trying. Budgeting is so important. Without it, you don’t know what you are spending. You can just waste without even knowing it. When you come from town and you have a few bits of loose change in your pocket, it is so easy just to give it to a small baby and say ‘go buy Simbas or a cool drink’ but if you rather put that money into the saving bottle, come December there will be a nice fat pile of savings. Watching it grow is like watching plants grow. It takes time but if you persist, the results come.
And the grandchildren are learning by watching. For me that is one of the most important parts of it all – children learn by what you do. If you want them to save, you must save yourself. If you want them to be a hard worker, show them how it is done.