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AfricaHolistic Ministry

A Bushel of Tomatoes – Steps to Self-sustainability

“What can you do for me?”

An odd question perhaps. In the context of ministry, we often flip this: “What can I do for you?” But when discussing sustainable practices, it’s not what you can receive but what can you give.

One Challenge Africa

Jenny, an OC mission worker, desires to see sustainable practices in her ministry with caregivers in Finetown, South Africa. It’s not a matter of working herself out of a “job,” but rather instilling better practices for long-term transformation.

Ministry in Finetown

Finetown is an informal settlement about 45 kilometers from where Jenny and her family live in Johannesburg. The population is about 20,000 people, with an unemployment rate of over 80 percent.

Jenny serves with a project called Tsoaranang (Joining Hands), based in the home of Mama Florina, a 70-year-old widow and mother to 10 orphan children. She runs a soup kitchen to feed over 75 children in the community and oversees the work of 12 home-based caregivers.

“I enjoy assisting and encouraging Mama Florina, the orphans, and the caregivers in various ways: providing spiritual growth through Bible studies, emotional support through trauma counseling, as well as practical training and provision for physical needs of the caregivers and orphans,” Jenny says. “Recently, I invited an entrepreneurial coach to motivate and teach the caregivers skills for starting small businesses.”

The women with whom Jenny works are talented and skilled, but often don’t see the other ways they can contribute to the community.

Partnership with Africa Skills

“One of our Southern Africa team associates, Gabriel Francis, works with a ministry called Africa Skills,” Jenny says. “Africa Skills provides entrepreneurial coaching and mentoring for people who have small businesses in order to further develop the entrepreneurs and their businesses.”

Jenny brought in Jabu, who is an entrepreneurial coach with Africa Skills. She asked him to help motivate the caregivers and help them to begin thinking of ways that they could start small businesses.

Africa self sustainability

“He asked the caregivers a simple question: ‘What can you do for me?’” Jenny says. The simple question sparked a discussion, what could they offer to their community?

“He listened as they came up with ideas, such as designing clothing and even starting a business to teach children how to sew. He encouraged them to think about planting vegetables and selling them in the community,” Jenny says.

Jenny and the OC team in SA provided a variety of seeds and fertilizer, and Jenny donated an old sewing machine to one of the ladies.

Steps toward Self-sustainability

God provided a man in the community who had 60 hectares of land and he agreed for the caregivers to use his land to farm vegetables, raise chickens, and sell the eggs. Since then, the women have harvested 100 large boxes of tomatoes!

“Jabu helped them to see that they have something of value and a purpose to ‘give back’ to their community,” Jenny says. “It has been exciting to watch their very countenance change from hopelessness to joy, and I believe they have been empowered to make a difference!”

Everyone at Mama Florina’s caught the vision. The orphan children began to make beautiful jewelry out of beads and candy wrappers! One caregiver said, “I now see clearly … there are many people in Finetown who have something they can do.”

Praise the Lord for these early stages and an effort in trying to help people of Southern Africa to become self-sustainable.

Pray with One Challenge

  • Pray for Jenny and Jabu as they continue to work with the caregivers in Finetown. Pray for more entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Pray against theft in the community garden, as that can be a major concern.
  • Pray that the project would go from strength to strength in providing for their families and community.

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