Initiative Update

The healing garden

Tambu Muzenda
Posted August 7, 2020 from South Africa
The Healing Garden: Learning about intervention organically in times of COVID-19
The Healing Garden, Tlhaku Community Project in West Rand South Africa, June 2020 by Rev Nokuthula Dladla

In then West Rand, a small community is making an impact through the community food garden which was developed and has been maintained by Tlhaku Committee, well-established faith based organisation run by women and young women and is part of a club that fosters the ideals of social activism and community service. The self- funding initiative is empowering the West Rand women and girls to become active citizens of their community by organising:  community clean ups, counselling services and health services referrals on gender based violence, HIV and health related services for women. Tlhaku Committee is focused on improving community life in West Rand on all levels of community building and appeal to community building through intentional programming that grounded in community support. As one of the primary sources of residential programming, Tlhaku has worked for years to promote  women’s socioeconomic activities for the residents.  In recent times, the community garden has become more of a sanctuary for self-care and support for women and victims of gender based violence. In addition, they have been working within a set of three core themes spread throughout the year: healing, VAW interventions and economic empowerment through seedlings distribution. These are the backdrop for many issues that affect women and their families.

This small scale agricultural project run by Pastor Motane, is making a greater mark. The lockdown period has exposed the dire need for comfort as most people begin to yearn for company, suffer from anxiety, violence and have to deal with the uncertainty of job losses, retrenchment, living in isolation in small spaces and deal with loss as many people begin to succumb to COVID-19. That reality began unfolding  as lockdown restrictions began to as women needed a place to vent and be able to breath from the confinement. While online dialogues promoted engagement and discussions on how manage the COVID-19 protocols and WHO guidelines, women still yearned to be with each other in the garden to talk and share challenges that simmered  even more during this time.  As restrictions through levels began to loosen up, women opted to come to the garden for relief, self care and support. Through support provided by Naxiluva Consulting, a locally based company that promotes dialogues, advocacy and writing, the issues raised by women showed a gap in the response especially with health issues and economic support. So, Pastor Motane opened up her garden to women to come, work the land and release the pressure during lockdown. With her awareness and information dissemination, she is able to support, and still maintain social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising the equipment. Pastor Motane plays the role of support to women with various 'agents' that come to the garden to report progress or share challenges of cases that they attend to through the social network of care givers, religious leaders and providing linkages to health care services. The women who come to the garden face many challenges: "When my husband died, my son was so distraught that he attempted suicide. I came to the garden to cool off from the stress, and I was inspired by the women's support. My son is better now and I thank God"-Woman who has a space in the garden

By providing training and awareness through community dialogues and conversations at the ‘healing garden’— once a food source with vegetables such as cabbages, tomatoes and more,  is now a well-known growing initiative that promotes healing, self-care, transformation and economic empowerment. This garden is a source of support, providing opportunities for West Rand women to become involved in improving their community. Therefore,  Tlhaku committee plays a significant role in developing both skills that have been fostered beyond the garden initiatives, providing the with community baking and pickling projects to promote income generation for the women and their families. From the garden the women and young women tend to the seedlings of a varieties of vegetable in season such as cabbages, carrots and potatoes. These are shared, sold and donated to several homes in community. Better yet, the women provide seedlings from the garden to women in the areas to plant in their backyards as a means to encourage healing and tending to food security for the elderly. Vegetables are harvested for families and income generation for women who work in the fields and in communities that are able to have fresh vegetables by their hands. The project also manages to intervene in community with support provided through a WhatsApp line to share information including intimate partner violence and health challenges. Because they are known to provide vegetables in the home, it makes it easier to access homes where tensions and threats of violence have been shared. The provision of these services for the community are so organic to what the community needs and the community understands this and rallies behind women to support them and justice is not denied to many. 

How many people have you impacted since your last update?


Comments 9

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Tamarack Verrall
Aug 07, 2020
Aug 07, 2020

Hello Tambu,
There are so many brilliant aspects to this community service, such important problems being addressed, with food and community addressing so many emergency situations. Two sentences stand out for me, "women still yearned to be with each other in the garden to talk and share challenges" and "The provision of these services for the community are so organic to what the community needs and the community understands this and rallies behind women to support them". When women come together in nature, especially growing food, such healing happens. What deep success that what you have created is now supported back by the community. All the best with growth from here on.

Nini Mappo
Aug 08, 2020
Aug 08, 2020

Hello Tambu,
A garden for healing the body and healing the souls and mind, and a place to connect with each other and seek justice. It is such a beautiful symbol of regeneration. I love that women come to "have space in the garden".

What a blessing that Pr Motane can be part of nourishing her community in so many ways!
Thank you for sharing on such an uplifting initiative. It truly is an organic solution.

Aug 08, 2020
Aug 08, 2020

Thank you for sharing.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Aug 11, 2020
Aug 11, 2020

Hello, Tambu,

I found myself smiling while reading your post. This is such a wonderful idea: a healing garden. Your project has a holistic approach, too. It heals women indifferent levels while nourishing community impact and environment as well.

Kudos to Motane for opening her garden to women. It's lovely that as women are healing each other through gardening.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to more updates.

Aug 16, 2020
Aug 16, 2020

thanks for sharing

Aug 16, 2020
Aug 16, 2020

Sister Thambu,

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of a "healing garden" for women!

How I wish that other women could emulate your concept of a "healing garden" and introduce it in their individual communities.

I love the idea that yours is a self-reliant, self-empowering, self-healing idea. You have recognized the various resources that exist in your community, gathered those resources and used them for the good of the whole community.

Your concept is exremely inspirational because what women need is leadership and a "garden" where they can go for "relief, self-care and support."

I am extremely impressed by the fact that instead of waiting for the government to come to the rescue of women in the West Rand, you started your own self-funding initiative and it is now yielding fruits.

It is providing solutions to women's social and economic problems, and "Yes! women can!" Women are able to solve their own problems.

You have created a model that can be replicated in other communities in South Africa and my hope and prayer is that these kinds of "healing gardens" become more common than exceptions.

I would strongly encourage you to make the West Rand "healing garden" a model for the whole of South Africa because there are many rural and even urban communities that are longing for effective solutions to their problems.

You have demonstrated that when women come together with purpose and dedication, they can provide healing in many areas of their lives.

I am sure that there are many Pastor Motanes in South Africa who can be encouraged to use their material resources and leadership skills to start similar self-funding initiatives.

Wonderful initiative. Keep it up and please keep us updated.

All the best,

In sisterhood and solidarity.

working to

Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Hello Tambu,
What the women in Tlhaku Committee are doing is a good example of what unity among women can help achieve. The activities are clear indication of how the women and girls are greatly empowered in this community. I always believe that when you empower a woman you are making impact for generations to come. Good initiative Tambu!

Nabila Abbas
Feb 11
Feb 11

Thank you

Feb 14
Feb 14

Congratulations on this healing garden initiative. The way you've been able to bring women together for self-care, support, and food productions is so inspirational. Addressing urgent needs through the intersection of gardening and being in Nature with counseling, economic empowerment, health issues, and providing a safe, supportive place for women to come together is impressive. Your healing garden goes far beyond food production and I hope will become a model for other communities to bring women, food production, and meeting community needs together in one place.