From the Heart – Good Women to Get to Know

The more I listen to the radio, or read social media outpourings, honestly – the more I’d like to pretend I’m a big brown bear in Siberia and it’s hibernation time. There’s the dire state of affairs in other parts of the world, which seems to be foremost in many a Seffrican’s mind. Whereas I believe we should be worrying more about the bad things that are happening here on the crime front, and how woman and child abuse is on the rise.

The Garden Girls
The Garden Girls (From Left) – Jane Griffiths, Author of Jane’s Delicious Garden, Jane’s Delicious Kitchen, Jane’s Delicious Herbs; Melanie Walker, author of this article; and Linda Galvad of Sought After Seedlings and agent for Franchi Sementi Seeds, and creator of the organic veggie garden on the roof of the Saxon Hotel, which supplies their Five Hundred restaurant. This pic was taken at the Gardens at the REEA Riverside Carnival.

Happily, there are things we can do about it.

With Women’s Day almost here (9th August), the spotlight is on how to honour the women not only in your life, but all those you come across.

And it’s to honour all the countless contributions to the struggle for justice and human rights by multitudes of women across southern Africa – that we should spare a thought for the continued violations of basic rights of women. And spare a thought for the massive number of women who are victims of economic and social crises that they had no part in creating.


Happily there’s a group of us who are on a mission to bring this abuse to the forefront of the public’s mind, to help those who are victims of abuse, and are in the beginning stages of setting up facilities to give them somewhere to go, to get help, to be rehabilitated, to learn new skills – through the Noordien Foundation, the brainchild of and spearheaded by our former President, FW de Klerk’s daughter-in-law, Nicole Noordien de Klerk.

Wish us luck – it’s going to get loud!!

But when not thinking about politicking, or finding out which areas countrywide could do with our help, I also get to spend time with other remarkable women in my little neck of the woods, each doing their own little bit to make life better for other people, for those who have been marginalised, often through no fault of their own.

Dynamo Daniella Alexander…and REEA…

One I see every week, when I make my circular early morning walks in the area, and to buy any veg I haven’t grown in my garden and free range eggs from, is the dynamo who has been working tirelessly for a few years on behalf of REEA Foundation, a non-profit organisation caring for adults living with epilepsy and mild mental disorders who cannot be accommodated in a normal family environment.

I got to know Daniella Alexander because of my interest in the amazing vegetable garden she set up in the Foundation’s grounds in Craighall Park.

Daniella Alexander
Daniella Alexander

Every year, I get invited to judge the Veggie and Scarecrow Competitions, and a great time is had by all. She recently went on a mission to have the greenhouse declared a heritage building – and got it – and then had REEA Foundation nominated by Gardens of the Golden City as a beneficiary for the coming year.

With them, and the support of her husband (who listened to her ideas and vision, giving her emotional support through all the ups and downs at the gardens, and financially supporting the project for the past 4 years)…this initial phase of restoration of the heritage greenhouse building would not have become a reality. Her husband is paying for the renovations. Which look absolutely fantastic.

But this is not all that’s been happening in this quiet little place down near the Braamfontein Spruit. Once a week, lessons are held there – The Eco Agriculture Food Security Programme – which is aimed at empowering previously disadvantaged individuals with the skills they need to grow their own food and other plants, as well as how to create a livelihood from this skill.

This is a spot where horsey people can stable their mounts – in the suburbs. There are pony rides for kids too – but the interesting thing is how well equine therapy works.

Taking this programme a step further, Egoli Rangers has formed an association with Nazareth House, a home for children younger than 12 who are infected or affected by HIV/Aids. Every week, a group of Nazareth House residents are hosted by the rangers.

Some of the children receive riding instruction, whilst others enjoy a picnic and an afternoon of activities. For these children, who have experienced grief and lost the joy in life, these excursions – and the horses themselves – are a great source of hope and happiness.

There’s the Rambling Rose Charity Shoppe, a bookshop, Pet food supply and delivery, furniture restoration, a car wash, markets, fun days and more happening, all mainly to raise funds to keep REEA going.

There are now three exciting “new” tenants at REEA, all in various stages of moving in and operation. As of the middle of July, Dunkeld Cycles moved their Service Centre to their premises… And a great new little coffee spot (for all those Mountain Bikers cruising the spruit) – the Delta Cafe – opened its doors right next to the famous veggie patch. And on top of all that, Dash of Paint has built an art studio next to the greenhouse.

Random Acts of Kindness…

At a school assembly this week, I heard the teacher reminding the kids about Random Acts of Kindness, and how everything you do impacts on other people. She asked them all just to do one kind thing every day, no matter whether you know the person or not. And I realised that I’m so blessed to know so many wonderful women in this very precariously placed city of ours that are doing things to help others without expecting any kudos or recompense for themselves.

These are the women I prefer to surround myself with. (Especially those like Daniella who read I needed rubber ducks in my house as mine had gone missing and how on EARTH was I supposed to keep my ducks in a row – and immediately went and bought me some!)

The rest?

Well, if they’re just complaining and not doing something for THEIR country, I’m Fergussoning them on FaceBook! With immediate effect.

SOME GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE GARDENS

A vegetable garden of this proportion is hard work, and Daniella’s always looking for volunteers… And when you see that this is what they offer, you understand why!

Farming and Operations
Planting, weeding and watering (12 sections of the garden = 12 volunteers)
Harvesting fresh produce for the REEA hostel kitchen and market day
Composting – Bokashi
Handyman type activities – carpentry, building … (we are getting 2 pigs soon, and they need a house)

Administration
Volunteer co-ordination
Fundraising assistance: fundraising plans/events or potential contacts
Annual Vegetable Exhibition co-ordination and planning
Funding application assistance

Communications
Photography
Facebook/blogging support
Newsletter production, content and mailing list management
Website/blogpage
Writing articles

Education
Education (children and adult) programme design
Education assistance organising and implementing (kids programme starts September)
Vegetable Club meetings – co-ordination and set-up on the day
Giving lectures, talks and demonstrations, guided tours
Assisting people with special needs (including REEA residents)

The Vegetable Garden and Greenhouse Project at REEA is run as a voluntary initiative for the community to enjoy and learn from. Ultimately they aim to support REEA financially. There are numerous costs that are incurred on a monthly basis when running an initiative such as this (seeds, seedlings, chicken feed, labour, maintenance and running costs). There are also great plans in the pipe-line (the other half of the greenhouse roof, water collection systems, heating systems, covered teaching facility, building of a museum on our heritage site…). They have been appealing to those people who are unable to donate their time to consider making a financial contribution.

People can contact Daniella directly if they have any questions regarding donations or funding for this initiative – danant@telkomsa.net or daniella@freshedge.co.za or 072 207 8196

Donations can be made to
Account name: REEA Foundation
Bank: Nedbank
Branch: Hyde Park
Branch Code: 197205
Account number: 1523013834
Ref: Veggdn – Surname

REEA Foundation – Epilepsy Care Centre
Corner Marlborough & Richmond Avenues, Craighall Park, 2196
P.O. Box 41116, Craighall, 2024
Tel: +27 11 788 4745
E-Mail: admin@epilepsycarecentre.za.net
Web: www.reaa.org.za
NPO 000-771
PBO 930 0000 281


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I’m one of those odd people who, despite travelling the world, hasn’t actually moved all that far. I’m living in the house I pretty much grew up in and doubt that I’ll ever really leave it! Like most people who live in ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, I have a love/hate relationship with the city. The thing I hate the most are the obnoxious drivers who litter our road, so if you’re ever in my hood and you’re confronted with a blonde who stops to point out you're in the wrong, steer clear.… I love that we have so many trees (and if one more person points out that, hey, like, shoo wow, we have the largest man-made forest in the world here, I’ll throw up on myself!) and that so many people are getting into the groove and getting not only indigenous but endemic – after all, I’m a serious gardener…