BBL PARTICIPANT: Palesa Manda, Verena D, Mpumalanga

In a Nutshell

Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Palesa Manda has improved her horticultural skills and started several business side hustles.

She has also developed supportive friendships with other food gardeners in her area.

She says…

Palesa Verena

My family came here from Tembisa in 2016. Life in Verena is very different to what we knew before. Now that we know this way of quiet, peaceful living I don’t think we could ever go back to that much more hectic way of life. There is hardly any crime here and the pace is much slower.

Also, our yards are bigger here, so we have space to plant which is wonderful. I always liked gardening but for the first time I have space to do something really good. I have mielies and melons and onions and peppers and chilies. And the trees! So many trees. I have avocados, grapes, lemons, nartjies, peaches, even bananas. In the summer I am kept busy canning fruit.

When you plant trees, you aren’t looking for instant returns. Trees are all about looking to the future and adding value that your children and your children’s children will experience. It’s a good feeling knowing that we are making something lasting for our family.

Don’t misunderstand me, this place is not perfect, the stress is less in some ways but the poverty is high and there are big problems with water supply. At the moment there is no water coming from the taps so we have to buy water. We have been collecting rain water but even the rain has not been so plentiful.

I think that one of the main reasons for poverty in this area is that we are quite far away from the city and it can be quite difficult to access information. Learning new things and gaining new skills is more complicated than it is in town. That is why we are so grateful for Bra Damba coming here. Through SocioTech we have been able to develop our God given natural talents and the potential of our land.

We have lots of people with talent and skill – plumbers, tilers, builders, dressmakers and so forth. My dream is that the people of Pella wouln’t have to go to Upington to shop or call in workmen from outside the area, but that they could get most of what they need here. What I am saying doesn’t just apply to Pella, it should include the whole Khâi-Ma region.


"...we work side by side. There is lots of laughing and love."

The MyFood and the MyFuture training inspired me in so many ways. My daughter and I did the classes together and now we work side by side. There is lots of laughing and love. Because poverty is high, it can be difficult to find side hustles that will work here. For instance, in Tembisa I used to do catering (platters and so forth for weddings and funerals), but this side people don’t have money for such things. If they have an event they tend to cater it themselves.

So, you need to be quite clever about finding a side hustle space in this market. I grow all sorts of herbs in my garden and I am making perfumes and herb infused oils, cosmetics and body lotions. I also sell winter clothes. I am also thinking about starting with poultry. I try things and see what works.

The people that I did the MyFood training with are my friends. We have similar goals and the same positive outlook on life. So, we work well together as a team. We have noticed that there are very few shops in our area and there are big transport costs just to buy food. The taxi fares to get to shops are cripplingly high.

We have an idea – it is not yet fully formed but we are trying to work out how to make it happen – that we could open a market to sell fresh vegetables and fruit.

We are still trying to work out the details but we thought it would be good if it was a place where people can buy fruit and vegetables for money but they would also be able to barter. So, for instance if I have a pumpkin, I can exchange it for potatoes. It is still early days, but the plan is coming together nicely.

Palesa Verena
Palesa Verena