Moeggesukkel – this is the name of a small informal settlement on the outskirts of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. We were first introduced to this community in October 2021, during a site visit that would inform the development of our sustainable food and nutrition programme that was launched this year. Little did we know that the agency of the people that we met here would be the inspiration for our work rooted in community and home-based gardens as an approach to combating food insecurity in our most vulnerable communities.
Nelson Mandela Day 2022 went back to the birthplace of Madiba, where our celebratory acts of service journeyed across the Eastern Cape through the immersive methodology of transect walk dialogues. These dialogues saw us fully immersed in the experiences of the different communities that we journeyed with. During the month of July, we walked with several community-based organisations located in Mvezo, Zwide, Cala, Moeggesukkel, Chris Hani and Rolihlahla informal settlements. Key to this approach is an opportunity to identify the various assets in a community through the eyes of the community while engaging with contemporary challenges faced by society.
On the 10th of August 2022, we once again visited the community of Moeggesukkel as part of our Mandela Month celebrations. The fighting spirit of this community is palpable and inspiring, it is the agency of this community that inspired the tagline for the 2022 Mandela Day campaign “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” The mini farm located in the middle of an informal settlement with its own water supply is an illustration of what is possible with very limited resources. The ability of this community to organise in this way is also an intentional leveraging of community-based assets. The expansion of this farm is a clear illustration of what is possible in our communities despite having very limited resources.
Community-based asset management was beautifully illustrated by a conversation amongst members of the community regarding how they would distribute the seed boxes that we had brought along with us to this activation. It was interesting to observe a lightly facilitated dialogue between members of the community regarding how they planned to distribute the seed boxes in an effort to establish their home-based gardens. This conversation revealed some blind spots for us, such as assuming that by bringing the seed boxes communities would have the necessary tools to toil the ground and establish their own gardens. However, this conversation also revealed the assets that already exist within the community and in this case, these assets or tools already existed and there was a system that governed how fellow gardeners could access and use the tools – a true indication of doing what you can, with what you have, where you are!
On the 18th of August, together with our partners, we hosted a community dialogue that offered a reflective moment for the July activities that unfolded in the Eastern Cape. Not only did this moment offer an opportunity to reflect and take stock of the various activations that unfolded at a community level in the Eastern Cape during the month of July, but it also afforded us an opportunity to acknowledge and surface the assets that are present in these respective communities. The community dialogue, through the voices of a select group of representatives, reminded us of the asset that exists within our various communities and centred the community and its experiences as an asset itself and in so doing validated the tagline for Mandela Day 2022 – “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”