Trafalgar High School has gone green and while doing so, they have created a space for the homeless to rebuild their lives.
The school partnered with an organisation called Khulisa Social Solutions (Khulisa) to launch the garden on an unused space at the school, where vegetables will be cultivated and a space created for the homeless to be employed and work for themselves.
Principal for Trafalgar High School, Nadeem Hendricks, said the project was exciting for the school and they were looking forward to offering a platform for homeless people to find their home.
“The objective of this partnership is to ultimately resettle these homeless back into their family environment. If they know they have gainful employment, then they will go back home,” he said.
Khulisa creates work opportunities for chronically homeless, regarded as a ‘hand-up’, instead of a “hand out” project, with work being providing an income, dignity and a chance to be useful.
Established in 1997, Khulisa, which is a non-profit company, is operated countrywide through 33 regional offices, employs over 400 staff and has active projects in over 400 communities.
Jesse Laitinen, strategic partnership manager for Khulisa, said: “Our vision is a safer, healthier and more prosperous South Africa, where all people, have access to resources they need to contribute to the economy and society. Through partnerships, we reduce systemic barriers and thereby can create measurable social impact,” Ms Laitinen said.
At Trafalgar a plot of around 500 square metres is being prepared for beds after Khulisa signed a five-year deal with the school to allow for the growing of vegetables at the premises. The school has about 600 pupils and the garden is set to be tended by the schoolchildren on most occassions, while the homeless will work on a seperate day, once a week.
The project linked up with the school’s existing organic garden feeding the hungry and Mr Hendricks said the partnership allowed for a “practical relationship to assist the homeless in the CBD to earn a living to sustain them”.
He further explained that the school planned to assist the homeless with the selling of the vegetables at a people’s market that will be held every week at the school.
“The idea is also to supply restaurants and hotels – there are three already that agreed to participate – to ensure sustainability and income on a regular basis. The homeless will not only work in the vegetable garden, but also be responsible to run the sales of their products,” he added.
The profits from these efforts after they have been remunerated will go to Trafalgar High School.
Mr Hendricks said the garden and the market will also benefit the pupils at the school.
If pupils are caught breaking the code of conduct at the school, they will then be punished positively by being ordered to work in the garden.
“Here they are turned around and a love for the environment and food production is inculcated into them,” Mr Hendricks said.
Through the market pupils will also get the opportunity to learn various skills, including selling, marketing and even promotion.
“I am extremely excited for this project and pray that we will develop a vegetable garden in this concrete jungle of a CBD,” Mr Hendricks added.
“We urge the surrounding communities to make the initial events a huge success because of the noble intention of looking after our homeless.”