Calvin Makhele

By Ntsoaki Toloane

Tladi Clinic in Soweto also offers nutrition by giving patients food free of charge under their Sibahle community project.

Community health worker and garden manager at the clinic, Calvin Makhele, said the purpose of the garden is to empower the community in nutrition and its benefits. He said there are two divided projects and one is for chronically ill patients and the other is for grand-parents. “We cater for all age groups. Volunteer patients cook food for other patients in the kitchen. We do not have specific time of serving the patients, but we normally do it after 9am. Even a patient who just came to the clinic gets food,” he said.

Makhele said their meals include pap and vegetables, mealie rice, soya and vegetables. He added that they do not provide food every day, but three times in a week which is from Monday to Wednesday. Makhele said their mission is to promote the value of nutrition.

“We wish to cook for the patients almost everyday. Our mission of serving the patients is to enable patients to take their medicines at least after eating. We decided to do this through a community planted vegetable garden. This project is efficient enough to operate at the clinic as there is availability of kitchen, water, electricity and utensils,” he said.

He said the garden is at the clinic as the land belongs to the clinic. Vegetables planted include beetroot, carrots, spinach, cabbage, sweet potatoes, roseberry, thyme, parsley, and fruits such as strawberry and gooseberry.

“For the garden to be formed, Rachelle Prince from New York, America, and Dr Skye who were working at the clinic, volunteered to contribute seeds and tools. The community donated tools, seeds and R1 each. I recently worked at the clinic, but I voluntarily went to the garden to check as a health worker. Then Skye and Prince chose me to manage the garden. The garden has almost five years in operation,” he said.

Makhele said patients love the project and feel empowered. He added that some come to ask for some vegetables from the clinic.

“Every day I have to make sure that the garden is watered. I offer whatever is needed from the garden. We do not only encourage patients about nutrition, but also for them to have gardens at their homes and how to run them,” he said.

Makhele said they need sponsorship to maintain the kitchen and expand days of serving the patients. He added that they require donations of seeds, fertilizers, food, tools and a larger piece of land to grow more vegetables. They also encourage the community members to work in the garden, and in return they can get vegetables. They offer elderly people a portion of land to grow their own vegetables for survival.

“Our plan is to grow the project, give other clinics mentality and knowledge of making the same project. Giving other clinics vegetables would not help, but knowledge is power as they can crow their own vegetables at any scale they want,” said Makhele.

The Sibahle Community project can be reached on www.sibahlecommunity.co.za, on Facebook page ‘Sibahle community’ and on  082 560 5680 or  078 813 3632.

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