BBL PARTICIPANT: Richard ‘Bafana’ Mulaudzi, Machipe, Mpumalanga
In a Nutshell
Through his participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Richard Mulaudzi has added to his farming skills, grown food to provide food for his family and considerably reduced his stress levels.
He has built onto his property and is using these extra buildings to generate an income.
Before I met the people at SocioTech I felt like I had fallen into a deep and stressful hole. I couldn’t even imagine a way out of that hole. I wasn’t alone. So many people in this community are struggling with issues of poverty, ill health and depression. We have so many people here with qualifications who are sitting at home unemployed. When you don’t use your God given talents, you get depressed and that is when all sorts of problems can arise.
When the MyFood training happened in late 2020 it was like a gift from God. And after that I did MyFuture. Learning and then implementing the skills from MyFood and MyFuture made a big difference in my life. It was like someone had lowered a ladder into that hole. From the start, I understood that I had to climb out on my own, no one can do that for you, but for the first time in a long time I could see there was a way out. And gradually, I am climbing. Every day I take a step on the journey up and out of the hole. It is not an easy journey but when I get tired, the memory of that desperation at the bottom of the hole makes me work hard and keep my focus on my end goal. If life were easier, maybe I would have given up, but it’s not. So, I keep working.
"It was like someone had lowered a ladder into that hole."
When you work with SocioTech, everything starts in prayer and respect for God is the central theme of everything they do. This is shown in the way that they farm without using chemicals, and also in the life skill element of the training. The way that we communicate with our families, our neighbours, our community, our country and so on, those are all ways to show respect for God. Again, no one said any of this is easy. Living with other people can be hard – especially when you all feel like you are in that hole of sadness that I talked about – but through SocioTech I am learning to create healthy relationships. It is through these healthy relationships that we can support each other in our climb out of the hole.
Most people in this community have previous experience with farming. Even when I was a tiny boy, I was herding cattle and working with my mother to plant and weed crops. Although I had a good base of traditional farming skills, I have learnt many new skills through SocioTech. I can’t tell you what other people knew or didn’t know but, in my case, both the trenching method of preparing soil, and issues of planting distance were new to me. I can definitely see that the crops are growing better now that I know these things. At Christmas we had such a good crop. There was plenty for my family and a good surplus to sell to others too.
I like that SocioTech sees the farming as a base on which we can build other business ideas. This is as it should be, because having food is essential in whatever business you want to work on. You can’t work if you don’t eat but for many people, myself included, farming is one element in what I hope is a business with many parts that will grow and change as the years go by.
I am by nature very entrepreneurial. I worked in construction in Daveyton for a long time. My skills and interests are in the area of housing project management. I came back to Machipe because I got sick and that has held me back, but (thanks to the healthy food that I eat out of my garden) I am feeling stronger every day and I am ready to add elements to my business model. I have registered my company, BR Mulaudzi, and I have several ideas.
SocioTech facilitators understand that it is easy to fall back into that hole so they don’t just tell you something once and go away. Whenever you have a problem they are prepared to chat. Even if you don’t have a specific problem they come back to mentor and this is a motivating force for change. For instance, in October last year Charles Bisimwa from SocioTech observed to me that my family homestead is quite large and that there was space to build. He pointed out to me that if I were to build, I could use those buildings to generate income. I took his advice, and by December I had built a small shop on the edge of my property.
I decided not to work in the shop myself because there is quite a lot of jealousy in this village and people can boycott a shop if they see someone they know running the business. So, I have an Ethiopian shopkeeper as a tenant. He works that space and provides me with rental income. In only two months I had seen a gap and implemented a plan. Now it is almost 4 months since I had that conversation with Charles and the money is starting to come in.