South Africa is a country with rich ethnic traditions and a history of faith and spirituality. It is also a country with extreme poverty, where 55% of the population struggles to make ends meet, and the leading causes of death among the poor are tuberculosis, influenza/pneumonia, and the HIV virus. CERI works and ministers among South African families deeply affected by poverty, sickness, and loss, offering them spiritual and physical food to help them overcome their hopelessness and grief.
By building vegetable gardens for vulnerable families and teaching them how to cultivate the land, CERI nourishes their bodies and souls while empowering South Africans to develop the gardens into a reliable source of food and income.
Entembi Mosley’s garden, planted with assistance from CERI in July 2016 and paid for through the Reeder Fund, is well tended and cared for. Mosley, a single mother of three and grandmother of five, maintained the garden’s trench concept, controlled the weeds and successfully replanted and harvested herbs and vegetables every season. Using the water tank provided by CERI, Mosley watered her garden carefully, to allow plants to grow and produce their harvest. Water is sometimes a scarce resource, but she has been able to fill her water tank, with a hose or pipe, from a spigot across the street from her property.
Mosley is proud of her garden and grateful for the opportunity to harvest it: “I have enlarged my garden further and this allowed me to sell some of the vegetables to community residents as a source of income. I have also began saving seeds for some plants, mainly herbs, to share or sell to neighbors.” Mosley also stated that she is teaching her grandchildren how to garden and proudly showed us the vegetable seedlings the children had planted. Her garden currently contains corn, peppers, herbs, spinach, chard, tomatoes, squash, beans, onions, carrots, cabbage and more. In 2017, she was also provided with seedlings for onion, spinach, cabbage, and seed potatoes ready to plant. Mosley’s garden exemplifies the ideal sustainable gardening concept.
Since CERI first helped install the garden for her and her family,she has progressed to not only tending and harvesting it for herself and her children for better nutrition, but has turned it into a self-sustainable and reliable source of income, selling surplus vegetables to neighboring families.
In summer 2017, CERI teams planted another four gardens, bringing hope and relief to more needy families. In addition to vegetables and herbs, teams also planted fruit trees. The trees will sustain a flow of fruit to the community, for a modest price, thus allowing the beneficiary families to realize some income that would allow them to enlarge their gardening capacity.
Leslie Goff, a certified master gardener and CERI volunteer implemented the concept of square- foot gardening, utilizing the most efficient use of space available to plant in each trench. More than 1,200 seedlings were planted in each garden using this technique. CERI’s work and ministry in South Africa includes fellowship, spiritual encouragement, and experiencing God’s blessings. Impromptu soccer games, mealtime, and random conversations are all perfect occasions for sharing a personal testimony or telling others about the miracles God performs in people’s lives. Spiritual and physical food are the blessings experienced by South Africans and CERI team members alike.