As the year draws to a close, welcome rains for the past 2 weeks have brought abundant growth to the previously parched earth. This will lessen the ever-present risk of destructive fires.
A lot of my time and energy, along with a support team steered by Michele Schiess has been devoted to the new chapter of the permaculture site since Coen and Megan’s departure at the end of September. This has involved interviews for possible stewards for the site which is in process, bringing in a community outreach programme and sharing time with Lea Wyler and Tal from Rokpa International.
The new community outreach has been launched with the drive and commitment of Masi Makalele and her colleague Porchia Mlangeni. We are overjoyed to welcome them both into our mandala. Masi will hopefully be at TRC for longer-term, with Porchia supporting her on a shorter-term basis depending on need. Both have long-standing experience and deep commitment to community empowerment.
Their initial focus of activity will be in Rietvaly situated about 15 kilometres from TRC. This is a community with over 300 households which has had close ties to our depleted Modibate community. It grew as an informal settlement to supply labour for the adjoining slate quarries which have since closed.
More recently it has become a more formal settlement supported by the government. Families now have numbers for their stands and many have electricity. Several boreholes and tanks are situated close by for residents to collect water. They have been promised taps for each stand and possibly RDP houses.
Many of the families who previously lived on TRC land have been assisted to relocate to Rietvaly, and since our on-site crèche closed at the end of last year, we have supported the development of a crèche in Rietvaly which opened in March.
Masi and Porchia have begun their participatory scoping in Rietvaly and started making contacts with various service providers. Their initial findings point to a great need to focus on physical, mental and community health.
Lea and Tal were with us for an inspiring 4 days recently to catch up on the programmes Rokpa International has been supporting – Tikologo, Tirisano crèche and the relocation process. We visited Rietvaly where they met staff and children at the crèche and walked around visiting some of the families which have been supported to relocate.
The meeting between like-minded/hearted beings of Lea, Masi, Porchia, Michele and I was hugely inspiring and ideas flew and grew. These were initiated by Masi and Porchia who suggested the use of an old dilapidated but habitable underutilised house adjacent to the Permaculture complex. After a walkabout and many more discussions, it has evolved into developing a multipurpose empowering and healing space offering care, protection and skills training mainly for women.
Lea requested that the name Rokpa be used for projects supported by them, so it has been proposed that Tikologo is changed to ‘Rokpa Permaculture Learning Centre’, the crèche to ‘Rokpa Tirisano Crèche’, and the house based project ‘Rokpa Women’s Power House’. Hopefully Rokpa International will support the growth and development of the three projects while income-generation and sourcing of other funding avenues are explored.
December will be a quiet period for any community activities as the crèche will be closing for the summer holidays in early December, after having an outing to the Marico Dam thanks to some generous funders. Masi and Porchia will be tying up ends at home, Michele will be giving needed time to the Waaipoort Permaculture project and I will be attending as much as possible of Donal’s retreat.