Learning Permaculture at Mqanduli Community Schools

Experiential school learning garden at one of the community schools in Mqanduli.

The kids designed this school permaculture demonstration garden.

They were involved in the establishment right from the start, making composts, raising seedlings, planting the garden and watering.

They are learning throughout all stages.

This helps improve pupils understanding of science subjects as well as gain understanding of how real food is produced as well as learning methodologies.

In growing food and how it works to maintain health and prolong life.

Operation Hunger Reaching New Heights

Charity organisations are always looking for innovative ways to spread the word about their cause and Operation Hunger’s Minnie Okwirry has embarked on a journey to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Operation Hungers permaculture garden projects in South Africa.Minnie is part of a network of ladies who started hiking for fitness and personal goals but she has now decided on a bigger challenge to climb on of the highest summits in Africa whilst change lives! Minnie Okwirry says “Operation Hunger must move into a supporting role of sustainability to tackle poverty and malnutrition in South Africa. We believe these gardens help us in achieving this objective and with the right funding can make a significant difference in communities nationwide.”The no dig permaculture gardens have been successfully supported and implemented by Operation Hungers team and focus on sustainability and not just feeding communities with daily meal but rather making them self-sufficient and teaching them new skills to feed their families in the long term. The Permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden. Intelligent design uses free, sustainable energies and resources. It is energy-wise and collaborative to minimise the impact of a site on the surrounding environment. A good design has great potential. It can connect neighbours in communities.
Operation Hunger also hopes that The Kilimanjaro climb will be an annual event where we can support a child each year to tackle the climb with the support of South African citizens. Minnie Okwirry goes on to say “These life changing events build character and help children from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to explore events they thought were only dreams before.”We plead to you for your support in assisting the 4 ladies who have pledged their support, to this activity, by donating any unused hiking equipment, sleeping blankets, boots or jackets that may be used by the team and next years youth team. Along with making any donations to reach the target of R150 000 in 2018.

Donations can be made via EFT or the website and hiking gear con be dropped off at Operation Hunger Head office: Address: 2 King Willow Crescent, Ranjesfontein, Johannesburg.
Tel: (011) 902 4000
email: info@operationhunger.orgBanking Details:
Account Name: Operation Hunger
Account: 62084621202
Branch: 254005
Reference: OHKilimanjaroClimb

No Dig Permaculture Gardens: An inspiration to Mqanduli community

Mqanduli is a village close to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. The area was named after a nearby hill of Xhosa origin meaning grindstone maker. Umtiza Farmer`s corp is the only agricultural supply company operating in this poorest part of the eastern cape where developing sustainable agricultural systems is widely regarded as holding the best hope of stimulating growth, reduce diseases related to malnutrition and alleviating poverty.
Hence, the introduction of No Dig permaculture concepts by Operation Hunger.

The first garden that we now call Mqanduli Pilot No Dig Permaculture Demonstration garden was established at Mqanduli Community Health centre in June 2017. It was after seeing the way sick people were flocking to the local clinic for treatment of diet related chronic diseases such diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and many others.

Designing a garden that was less demanding in terms of labour and resources. A garden that was purely organic with a diverse of high nutrient crops produced from natural seeds that were free from toxic fertilizers, pesticides and agrichemicals. That was the No Dig garden method.

Making raised beds from pallets

Making nursery pots by recycling empty yogurt and traditional beer containers

Upon the completion of the pilot garden, Operation Hunger organised a community gathering on Mandela day where the community and local stakeholders were invited to come and witness the occasion. There was discussions on the issue of chronic diseases being caused by poor nutrition, wrong eating habits and overuse of prescription medication and agrichemicals and on how synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically engineered foods contribute in the development of certain lifestyle diseases.

Operation Hunger then demonstrated production and use of specific herbs and vegetables to control certain chronic.

A lot of people and organisations present that day were inspired and vowed to have the same gardens established at their places. That was the birth of two more demonstration gardens at Wilo clinic and Mbekweni Health centre.

Using waste material to design no dig gardens: Used pallets for raised beds, cardboard for sheet mulching and grass for compost

The use of high nutrient compost material from domestic animals such as poultry and sheep caused some of the projects being implemented under the auspices of Operation Hunger to venture into poultry projects such as Masimanyane, Ekukwezeni and Thanga. These projects are slowly coming up and with proper support they have the ability to change their livelihoods and community health for better.

The gardens are weed free, self-regenerative and health enhancing due to the diverse range of high nutrient organic crops in one garden. Growing a mixture of herbs, vegetables and fruits and edible weeds go a long way in promoting healthy livelihoods, alleviating poverty, hunger and diseases and that’s what we are doing. With such developments people are beginning to understand the significance of self-help initiatives and healthy eating behaviours.


A flourishing pilot demonstration garden with herbs, vegetables, small fruiting plants, traditional super food and spices.



Operation Hunger in partnership with AECI have embarked on a Hippo Water Roller project in the Free State in Steynsrus.  Operation Hunger’s National Development Coordinator Clement Summerton and Regional Coordinator from Limpopo Solomon Mojela visited the community in September 2017.  They held a meeting with twenty community leaders.  Most of the attendees were between the ages of 20 to 40 years. There was active participation and were well informed of their community.

The township is located in the Northern Free State in Moqhaka Municipality , Fezile Dabi Region / District.  Steynsrus is a township which was established long before which consists of two parts, one part which was developed and the other part less developed due to the influence of the former apartheid system of governance and consisted of only black people. After 1994, the new dispensation broke the barriers and the two areas were integrated into one and the movement of people was freed.There are 5 schools in the area.

Rain is only available from October – February then there is drought through out the year
Seasonal work is available during from December – May and thereafter no income is available at most of the HHs
Poverty is mostly experienced between February up to November  each year
Crime rates increase severely between November and December
Expenditure and credit increases also during September to December each year
Health condition tend to deteriorate in the community during the winter season May to August

The Mapping system was used to depict infrastructures, natural resources, land ownership, settlement pattern, soil types and cropping pattern. This exercise also enabled the participants to freely discuss the roots of their present situation and possible future developments.

Daily Routine Between Men and Women:

This exercise enabled us to understand routine activities among different household members the time of the day. This information helped us to identify critical times for peak labour usage and gender related issues related to overwork of women.

Daily activities

Steynsrus township was not exceptional to social and economic hardships experienced by many black communities throughout the Republic of South Africa.

Group discussion – challenges faced by the community



Unemployment , poverty and lack of skills were highlighted as key problems facing the community. The  HIV & AIDS epidemic, and other communicable diseases, substance abuse,  lack of proper services such as clean & drinkable water supply were also identified.


Wealth ranking: this exercise enabled us to determine the economic attributes of house holds in this particular village. It helped us to understand social – status of the different households in the village. This importunity enables us in identifying the poor for future development planning. The ranking was done by the villages themselves.


300 hippo rollers, three Spaza stands and a garden will be provided to better the livelihood of this village. The poor will be target for these development interventions, prioritizing the elderly, the sick, the disabled and women.
The Spaza stands will be used one each at the Local clinic, taxi rank and at the school. Among goods that will be  sold from the spaza stands vegetables produced from the garden project will also be included .
Participants will be trained on basic business management and marketing skills.
20 participants in total will be involved in the gardening project and six people involved in the Spaza stands.

Limpopo and Mpumalanga Vegetable Gardens- Pjapjamela

Limpopo and Mpumalanga Vegetable Gardens- Pjapjamela

The garden at pjapjamela soup kitchen is flourishing due to the availability of water from a borehole drilled and equipped through the assistance of INMED. Mr Johanah Ngobeni a person living with disability is participating in the garden, and he thanked Operation hunger for the support given to the community of Pjapjamela both for the soup kitchen and garden. “Both my family and myself, our lives have improved as we benefit from the vegetables we planted by our own hands from the garden” he proclaimed. “ This reminds me of my hardship during the 80s where I was working at a timber factory, waking up early in the morning at around 3:00am and travelling a distance of about 7km to catch a truck to the timber factory which was also difficult for me to climb up on the truck. I was earning R70.00 after 5 weeks of labour”, he further narrated his previous experience.

“Today we are fed right here at our work place and carry on with our daily work in the garden without carrying anything to eat from our homes. What a blessing is this?“ He asked as he continues to tell of his story.

Mr Ngobeni works together with other volunteers whom are young men and women from the community of Pjapjamela and sell their produce to local and neighbouring villages and schools for income generating.


Success story compiled by Solomon Mojela: OH Mpumalanga & Limpopo regions’ project coordinator

Date compiled: 10/09/2017


Just as Clintons life was changing for the better, he got mugged and lost his sight in the split of a second when he tried to protect “what actually saved his life”


Operation Hunger meets Clinton’s family on Mandela Day, July this year to donate and deliver groceries to a family of two impaired people who live together in a two room shack. Ouma as she is fondly named by the Operation Hunger feeding scheme participants is said to have been very active in the community of Blikkiesdorp during her days. She ran a crèche together with two other women, her son at the time, Clinton, was a very naughty community youth who caught up all unwanted troubles for himself. Even though Ouma tried her best to disciple him, peer group pleasure of the large shanty town consisting of 1800 families ruled Clinton’s life.

Shanty township (Blikkiesdorp)

Not only was Clinton’s mom an active woman in the community, she was a respected dedicated prayer woman who prayed and supported people daily and weekly in prisons, hospitals and in her community. She never Forgot or stopped praying for her own Clinton too. But his bad life style was not improving.

One day a charismatic church operating in a canvas tent visited the community and was placed in an open space on the eastern side of Oumas house just next to Clinton’s home. It wasn’t long after the tent church was establishment Ouma became very ill and suffered multiple strokes. Soon thereafter she lost her job at the crèche and was bedridden for life. Fortunately during this time of her illness, Clinton although he was still out in the streets doing criminal activities he was married to a good hearted woman who looked after his mom.

The illness of his mom, affected him and he badly wanted to change his life. His mom’s medical bills were rising and none of his criminal activities could bail him out. One of his worst fears was to end up in jail leaving his bedridden mom alone at home. That forced him to leave the thug life he lived and pushed him to job hunting. Oumas prayers accompanied him each day he went out to seek a job. There is .. “A time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones”

Clinton, Ouma’s only child receives an employment at last, even though the income was little but it gave this young lad and his home hope and for a new beginning.

His wife could eventually be like other women go shopping with her husband and bring his mom her favorite fruit during month ends.

Clinton’s urge to improve his life further more drove him to the tent church services held next to his home. He accepted God in his life. As the say “one cannot meet the Lord and remain the same thereafter”

For Clinton it was time for new beginnings, a time for a renewed life. It was a time to love the Lord and righteousness and a time to hate. To hate wrong doings, evil, crime and everything that he was doing in the past. Ouma’s life and his wife was always a life of thankfulness and joy.

Just when everything was going so well for him…

Clinton (bottom right) Ouma (centre of pic) Ex wife top right and Fiancé bottom right

One night , in the depth of the night’s silence everyone was peacefully a sleep, a noise coming from the tent church side woke Clinton up. He couldn’t resist it; he went outside to look at what was taking place. In the dark tent by the musical cables. He spotted the three thieves, he shouted and chased after them as they ran. Yelling! … This is a house of prayer not a house for thugs”

That’s when his wife who was deep asleep woke up and realized that it was her husband shouting outside.

They thought that the incident was over, not realizing that something bad was about to happen to them. The thugs knew who he was and had decided to ambush him on his way from work and blinded his eyes so he could never see again or point any finger at them in case they are reported to the police. Life in Clinton’s home dropped and went down and down, his wife could hardly manage to look after the two of them anymore. (Blind Clinton and his paralyzed mom). Clinton discovered and understood the suffering of his wife and eventually made the heartbreaking decision of releasing his wife since she was young and had no children with him. Although released, the good hearted wife came would return home occasionally to wash Ouma but Clinton refused to be assisted by her.

ACSA and OH Mandela day

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

An OH feeding scheme lands up also just next to Oumas house, on the west side just next to Clintons home, The six cooks from the operation hunger feeding scheme and some community members make turns looking after Ouma and Clinton daily. This two receives daily meals from the feeding scheme. The feeding scheme feeds 400 people daily

On Mandela day Operation Hunger joined ACSA in the community and distributed 1800 food parcels in the community. One of these parcels was delivered personally by operation to the family. What was outstanding and moving on the day of the visit was to see Clinton neatly dresses up and having had a brand new hair cut and beautiful shaving that had been done by his ex – wifes fiancé, also noticed how fresh Ouma looked, this was after a nice warm bath given by her ex- daughter in –law.

Thanks to all the community people that are taking care of people such as this family who has not relative or no one to take care of them.

Get involved for a better community. In order to expand its operations Operation hunger is appealing for support, either financially or as a volunteer. You could become an OH Activist or even get the children involved with “OH Youth Action”

Forward with the women… Forward

Clement Summerton

Western Cape

(National Development Coordinator)





Participants from the two informal settlements flocked together at a central venue to attend a PRA work shop conducted by Operation Hunger and AECI representatives being Clement Summerton and Solomon Mojela. The PRA modules included area mapping, identification of socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, lack of skills, proper municipal services, and crime.


Lack of water and proper municipal services is the biggest challenge experienced by both two informal settlements namely Likazi & MNS. Out of seven  key  solutions  suggested to better the lives of the needy , job creation was identified as a number one need.  The least prioritized was the Police forum.

The piece of land earmarked for garden activities at Likazi is characterized by sinking holes however the 20 garden participants have shown confided that the sinking will not continue and the area just need to be leveled. It was decided that the  three Spazas will remain in the garden to be utilized by the participants when they sell their produce..  Quotations for Materials were been made and requisitions for payment will be sent to head office.

The Beneficiary ID collection process  was halted due to some disputes regarding beneficiary list at Likazi, and we therefore provided both two communities with receipts books that their pages are numbered from 1-100 and in duplicate to register all finalized beneficiaries’ names and that will be considered indisputable

. Pictures will be captured at our next visit at the hand over and Solomon and Clement will be in the field two days prior to the hand over day to finalize everything in time.