Tucked away in a remote corner of Mpumalanga’s Manyeleti region are the villages of Dixie and Utah, the first to have benefitted from the efforts of the people running the Buffelshoek Trust.
Founded in 2001, the trust enriches the lives of the locals of the Bushbuck Ridge area by providing what they call “upliftment through education”.
The Trust’s ethos is a simple one: “Not having everything you need doesn’t mean you can’t strive for excellence”. They believe that environmental and economic poverty is not reason enough to not strive for excellence.
“The Buffelshoek Trust’s cardinal objective is to bring together the three forces – government, business and civil society – to bring about the kind of progress that we believe is so crucial, particularly in the rural areas,” says Dr Reuel Khoza, the chairperson of the Buffelshoek Trust.
The trust partners with community leaders and government departments whose objectives align with their own. By bringing together resources they can channel assistance to areas that are most in need.
WORKING TO IMPROVE LIVES
One of the biggest issues the trust intends to tackle is youth unemployment. In areas where the Trust is most active, the young are most affected by a lack of employment opportunities. Denied an opportunity to work is threat to their own and their community’s wellbeing.
Through its Enterprise Development programme the trust has set a target of creating and supporting 60 small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in Mpumalanga by the end of 2016, creating around 120 permanent jobs and a further 240 temporary jobs.
Buffelshoek targets communities that have already set in motion efforts to improve their standards of living. The Trust sees itself as a multiplier of these community based efforts, hoping to maximise their impact by supporting their efforts as opposed to starting from scratch.
“We are not waiting for the government to do things for us,” explains Killian Mabunda, the chief of Utah village. “We are also prepared to do things for ourselves and initiate other projects for ourselves.
“We just want the government and the Buffelshoek Trust to assist us.”
In addition to the Enterprise Development Programme the trust also runs a Food and Water Security programme aimed at addressing the issues of water and food shortages in rural Mpumalanga. The trust has drilled boreholes across the province and has established rainwater harvesting systems to help citizens survive during hard times.
The trust’s approach to ensuring school children and their families receive their daily nutritional need is split into two parts. One involves supplying families with food parcels put together with the help of Tiger Brands and the other is a long-term solution.
Communities have received help to establish and maintain their own food gardens in schools and other areas central to their communities. Beyond producing food for the community, the project has also created jobs in rural Mpumalanga.
Watch Buffelshoek Trust – Water Security:
The Buffelshoek Trust is always willing to accept help, whether it be donations or gifts of equipment or spending some of your time with them.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the trust you can have a look at their website for more details on how to make a donation, volunteer your time or stay in touch and up-to-date with their activities.
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