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.