BBL PARTICIPANT: Esther Mabotja, Khaukelo, Naledi, Soweto
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Esther Mabotja from Naledi has gained the skills to provide food for her family. Her small business selling vegetables is gaining momentum and she has a five-year plan in place.
Through the seed and the soil, I see the power of God. When you put a seed in the ground and it first puts up a shoot that is like God showing himself. And then, as that plant grows into a vegetable or a fruit, you can eat it or sell it which I see as a manifestation of God’s love. He supports you through that plant. The nature of that support is potentially endless. Inside each pumpkin are the seeds to make at least 10 more pumpkins. And that cycle can go on forever. All the doctors at the clinic say that eating fresh vegetables is important for health, so that is another way that the support from a garden shows itself.
Skill and hard work are also part of what you need. I met Jabu Hlongwane from SocioTech at the end of 2019. Right from the start the people doing the training were so kind and supportive. Through Jabu I learnt about trenches filled with bones and tins and this has made my crop yields improve. Before, I just dug and poured water and hoped. I didn’t realize I was throwing money away.
At first, I was working in a cooperative group but that didn’t suit me. I am not judging anyone else and how they like to work. All I am saying is that for me there is a wonderful freedom that comes from being able to rely on my own efforts. I prefer knowing what has been done and not done, because I did it or didn’t do it. I can focus on what I am doing and not doubt myself or my garden output. I find it much less stressful because there are no personal politics to deal with. You just work at your own pace.
"Slowly but surely, I think it is coming together."
I have been in this new space for about 5 months now. I have set up 12 trench beds and I am beginning to see my efforts coming together. I am starting to be able to sell. I have spinach and onions and tomatoes ready for sale. Also next to my beds, there is a huge patch of thepe that grew wild. I have been picking that and selling it for R20 per Checkers packet. It is a wonderful plant. The more you pick, it the more it grows. It is a wild, generous gift from God.
Through BBL I have been working to create a five-year plan. I hope to slowly but surely expand my business, and Mohale Matsuma have been encouraging me. I am already having customers come to the garden and I do deliveries for people who are close by. I also intend to start a small stall outside my house to sell my produce. Over time, I want to get to the point where I can supply big shops. Slowly but surely, I think it is coming together. Every day this garden helps me to understand my relationship with God and the plans he has for me.