‘Breaking the cycle of poverty’: How a University of Pretoria project is helping the poor

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About 25 women from the informal settlement of Cemetery View, in Pretoria East, are part of a project that brings them better food security and a more diversified diet. Picture: Provided.

  • The University of Pretoria’s Health for Change project is changing women’s lives.
  • The project aims to break the cycle of poverty.
  • A woman says she used to beg for food at traffic lights, but now she has found a way to feed her family.

A Gauteng woman, who spent her days at traffic lights begging for food, says she has found a way to feed her family, thanks to the University of Pretoria’s ‘Health for Change’ project.

The project, which began in 2019, aims to break the cycle of poverty.

The project is currently supporting 25 women, who live in the informal settlement of Cemetery View in Pretoria East, by improving their food security and providing a more diverse diet.

Together with community health workers, the women worked with the University of Pretoria to improve access to eggs as a source of protein for their families.

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Alongside the egg project, the women are planting vegetables, such as cabbage, tomatoes, spinach and sweet potatoes, while participating in workshops on healthy and sustainable food.

One of the women, Sharon Sithole, 26, told News24 that she used to beg for food or money at traffic lights but found a way to feed her family thanks to the project.

gardening

About 25 women from the informal settlement of Cemetery View, in Pretoria East, are part of a project that brings them better food security and a more diversified diet. Provided.

Provided

Even though her husband worked part-time, she still had to beg for food.

Now that’s in the past.

“This project makes our lives easier and it has changed our lives – from begging to harvesting,” she said.

“We are very happy and we thank those who brought us the project.”

Sithole said she not only receives food from the project, but it will help her start her own vegetable business.

Rebaone Madzivhandila, the coordinator of informal settlements, who works in the department of community-based primary care family medicine at the University of Pretoria, said the women have taken control of their lives.

“I have seen the women’s lives improve and they are beginning to take ownership of their lives. Their dedication and motivation has been proven by the success of the project, taking the time to water the garden and attend each training as needed.

“The purpose of the project was to promote women’s urban agriculture (food production) and transfer essential health and social skills for the health and livelihoods of urban residents in the informal settlement of Cemetery View.”

She said SA Cares and Lewende Woord Church were active partners in providing the land and resources needed to establish and maintain the project.

She added that the project was “ready to expand and reach more families”.

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