A little hope goes a long way

sarah---textSarah and her team cultivating land for the food garden. (Image: Sarah Bergs Facebook)

An initiative in Hoedspruit, in Limpopo is uplifting local communities, promoting social responsibility and encouraging environmental education.

Nourish is a non-profit organisation founded by Sarah Bergs, who grew up at Motswari Game Lodge, in Hoedspruit. She wanted to combine her love for conservation and her humanitarianism with the fight against poverty and poaching when she started Nourish just over four years ago.

Bergs told the Sunday Times newspaper she could remember as a child seeing tourists from all over the world spending a lot of money at the reserve, yet the local community never benefited.

“I wanted to play Robin Hood and help the community,” she said. “This is my community. You see people with so much money come in and out, and international people coming to see the heritage and wildlife.

“Then you drive 20 kilometres away and see a community completely unaffected by the wealth. These guests are throwing away more money than what these people have.”

Bergs credits her caregiver, Minah Mathebula, for teaching her to speak Xitsonga, to weave grass mats and be “bush-wise”, when she was growing up.

THE WORK OF NOURISH

Nourish is a community upliftment project that provides after-school facilities for children from the area. It has a library and a vegetable garden worked by the community for their own benefit, and a small plantation where they grow moringa trees to sell to mining companies. Mines use the moringa trees to mitigate the effects of acid mine drainage, among other uses.

“Initially it was a food security garden but then we figured out that in this area there was a secondary need – a big, big need for education and entrepreneurship, so then we decided to build a library,” Bergs said.

RECYCLING

Although Nourish aims to improve entrepreneurial skills in the local community, recycling is also are high on its agenda.

“We don’t want to hard-sell recycling. We just want people to walk in here and think a little bit; go home and see things a little differently. Maybe see waste as a resource, maybe see the conservation area as something precious.

“You learn so much by trial and error, but I’m hoping to duplicate what we do here in other communities.”

THE LIBRARY AND HOW YOU CAN HELP

Launched in 2015, the library is still in need of books and educational toys for children. Bergs also hopes to turn it into a skills training centre for the older people and adults in the region.

“Since the launch of the library and helping the kids with English, I’ve had feedback that their confidence has improved a lot. That’s something very tangible. It makes me feel like I’m doing something important.

“Life’s not boring at all when you’re involved in something like this.”

The children have also started doing yoga.

You can help her do her work better at Nourish by donating English books and educational toys for the library, and by buying one or more moringa trees for the plantation. There are also problems with electricity connections at the premises. Bergs can be contacted on 071 909 7261.

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