“The trees are like our babies – we must look after them for the future”

My heart soared with happiness on Monday, 5th May when I visited Nombeko Buyana and her team at the Msendo Village and stood watching the „sea‟ of beautiful, healthy blue gum trees that had grown from little saplings to tall trees that they are now able to „harvest‟ to generate some income for the group members but in such a way that they do not destroy the woodlot. The village is about 52kms on a terrible gravel road from Willowvale which is the closest town and takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to them. This is a group of people, led by Nombeko for a number of years whom we met when they had already started the project. They had received technical support and funding through the then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and when we met them for the first time in 2008 they had been without funds for quite a while but were still very involved in caring for their trees. They wanted to plant more trees and build a structure that they could use for their meetings and to store their equipment and Ikhala Trust approved grants for the period 2008 – 2010 to the value of R104 340.00 as well as assisted them with an official launch of the Woodlot and visited them on a few occasions. They also attended all Ikhala Trust’s capacity building programmes and Conferences during this time. They were awarded the Best Grantee Trophy at the end of 2010. Nombeko was meticulous in keeping records and outshone everyone else who had many years of experience. They were proud to tell me that they now have just over R10 000.00 in the bank and are looking to do another income generating project to subsidise some of the income they currently make. BEE-KEEPING immediately came to mind and we are currently trying to identify a service provider who can visit them and perhaps give them some advice and assistance. This is the only project of its kind that Ikhala Trust has supported and WE ARE SO PROUD TO BE ASSOCIATED with an amazing group of Women and Men who despite their own challenges have not given up after so many years and are now reaping the fruits of their hard labour!!!