Pella

BBL PARTICIPANT: Pastor Francina Carolus, Pofadder, Northern Cape - Oumie

In a Nutshell

Through SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) facilitation, Pastor Francina Carolus has gained the horticulture skills to provide nutritious fruit and vegetables for Khâi-Ma children participating in her church-based early learning initiative. Her abundant food garden also provides ingredients for fruit smoothies which she makes and sells to raise funds.

She says…

Francina

My husband, Walter, and I are both pastors in the Christian Family Church (CFC). Although I am a pastor, almost everyone in Pofadder knows me as ‘Oumie’. Initially we were both ordained by Apostle Allan Bagg in Somerset West but we were sent to Pofadder to plant a church here in 2017 and I am so glad that we came.

It hasn’t always been easy. This is a community with a huge need for spiritual, social and economic support. When we arrived here we became aware of the huge impact that poverty has had on the people in this part of the world. Even coming from the Western Cape, where there is plenty of poverty, the difficulties people face here in the Northern Cape are on a whole other level.

We believe that we were sent here by God to consider the poor by helping with spiritual, social and economic development. Our belief is that If we can train people, young and old, that would be a blessing for the community. For adults to have employable skills and skills that would allow them to start businesses, would make such a big difference. For children, being able to learn and develop their God-given talents would be so wonderful.

It isn’t easy work - there are many blocks that get in the way of making progress. In this area, there is a huge political influence on education, training, learning, employment and economic developments. New opportunities are so often hampered because political parties and politicians want to find ways to gain from projects before they will let you make progress. Through God’s grace we are making progress, but it is hard work, requiring patience and persistence.

"Through God's grace we are making progress, but it is hard work, requiring patience and persistence."

Even with all this, we are making progress. We work at the Where Eagles Fly Communities Care Center (WEFCC) in Pofadder and we have registered Great Beginnings Training Centre. The idea is to provide educational support for everyone, both young and old. The adult programmes have not yet started (we plan to apply for learnerships through the SETA system), but we are already having great success with our efforts to educate children.

We offer a daily Mondays to Friday Grade R program at the WEFCC facility. This is for the little children who are around 6 years old and are about to go to school. We also have a separate program for the younger ones who are not yet old enough to go to Grade R, but need to be starting with developing school readiness. We also care for babies from 3 months old till 3-year old. We also have a teaching ministry every Sunday 17h00 in Pella.

Every day the number of children we see at the WEFCC centre grows. A lot of children need a lot of space and we are running out of classroom space, so I recently looked into the cost of a container and even the cheapest ones are about R35 000! I want to be able to take more children so I need to earn the money to buy that container. When I realized how much such things cost I approached SocioTech about creating a food garden.

garden-care

I didn’t garden on a large scale before coming to Pofadder, so it has been quite a steep learning curve. We got initial training through SocioTech and I do not think that I would have had a clue how to proceed if it hadn’t been for them. I learnt so much about preparing and maintaining the soil. Right now, we have sweet potato, carrot, beetroot, strawberries and all sorts of herbs in the tunnel. We also have mango trees, peaches and oranges. I find the garden work very satisfying – you can see hard work paying off in a very practical way. Have the skills, put in the work, and the results come. Plants don’t play politics, so the connection is very direct. I think it is good for the children to see hard work paying off. It teaches them good life lessons. If they learn this now, small as they are, it will be something they take with them forever.

Francina

We use some of the vegetables to feed the children in our programmes but we are always looking to raise money to support the mission for Khâi-Ma so we also sell some of the vegetables to local businesses as part of that broader initiative. I also make fruit and vegetable smoothies to sell at local community events. I sell a 125ml cup for R15.

Sadly, I am not even half way to my R35 000 target but I calculate that we will have saved the full amount in about two years. Our long-term plan is to establish a school that caters for children from grade RR all the way through to grade 7 and also to get the adult education and training up and running. Clearly these are ambitious dreams, but with faith and hard work we will get there.

Francina