We continue to enjoy the best summer rains we have had for many years. The rains have led to abundant growth, as well as challenges around maintenance, with leaking buildings, broken lawnmowers, electricity breakdowns on top of load shedding and often impassable dirt roads. But the saturated earth seems to be bursting with thanks.

At the Training Centre site we are sadly still without a steward for the permaculture project, but Thabo who has been Coen and Megan’s trainee for some years, is growing in confidence, and we are working to build this into basic guided tours and practical courses. More hands are needed to properly maintain and develop the site so volunteers are most welcome. People attending retreats are also welcome to have permaculture tours of the permaculture site and buy potted herbs, and herbal products in the TRC shop.

On the wider environmental front, there are new prospecting and mining applications looming, and Mmutlwa wa Noko are dedicating huge energy towards trying to ward off these submissions. They would welcome support. It is a battle as the government sees mining as a way to boost the local economy and create jobs.

I attended an informative Marico Biosphere meeting this week to hear about progress and new developments. Unesco reviews biospheres every 10 years and set essential targets which have to be achieved for the status to be renewed. Amongst many other activities, there is a big drive toward eco-tourism and setting up local history routes. I am gathering local information to send to the appropriate bodies. Hopefully, TRC will benefit from some of these initiatives. Many people are interested in the Anglo Boer War, and the first official tourist site on the Elands River Battle will shortly be set up near the town of Swartruggens where there is a small history museum.

On the community side a new project, the Rokpa Women’s Power House, is slowly taking shape and awaiting funds to move forward. Masi Makhalemele, an inspiring community worker, is actively networking with service providers, community leaders and the community to initiate needed services, mainly in Rietvaly. The first residential training course for 4 women was held recently at the Training Centre.
Tirisano crèche relocated to Rietvaly supported by funds from Rokpa International and is continuing at the moment in very cramped temporary ‘mukukus’ on a site with no water or electricity. There is an average of 35 children attending daily. It is run by 2 young dedicated but unqualified mothers Rebecca and Kebo, with an older cook Anna making food in difficult circumstances. We hope in time for this to develop into a centre for more community activity in Rietvaly with needed structures put up once a permaculture design has been carried out. Plans for this to happen in April/May are in place.
My so-called ‘retirement’ seems very full of positive activity and it is wonderful to see more healing based retreats and events happening on the main site.
Feb 2020