South Africa: Part Two: JRS Makhado, Creating Rural Livelihoods
21 July 2015

(Left)) Marcelle Bosch, owner of Madi a Thavha as well as the sewing, handicraft and baking instructor in Makhado. (Right) A class of refugee and asylum seeker women, learning the creative skill of sewing and handicraft at Madi a Thavha (Gushwell F. Brooks/Jesuit Refugee Service)
These are not the recipients of charitable handout, but savvy and committed entrepreneurs and small-scale poultry farmers. They speak of expansion, how to re-invest in their business and what it would take for them to grow into a larger operation. They are strategic.
Makhado, 21 July 2015 – Makhado, in as much as it is a sprawling town, has small, rural settlements scattered around it. The refugees that settle in this part of the Limpopo Province in South Africa make a living here too, away from the urban bustling of Makhado. Creative solutions for sustaining livelihoods in these surroundings is essential and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) based in Makhado, are going a long way in ensuring that people can take advantage of limited opportunities within a rural setting. The first of these projects is a small-scale poultry farming initiative, 15 kilometres outside of Makhado. Here eight people, the majority of them refugees and some of them South Africans have managed to raise a thousand chickens, ready to be slaughtered, packaged and sold. “It is important that locals, refugees and asylum seekers work together. This is how we create social cohesion through our livelihoods’ projects. Refugees and asylum seekers become part of the community in this way, as they are in partnership with locals.” says Pedzisai Matandira, JRS Social Worker, based in Makhado. In a section of the creatively built and equipped chicken-run, the eight partners of the chicken rearing co-operative, discuss the way forward for their business. Mirriam, one of the participants in the chicken rearing project, speaks with pride: “This is our first batch of chickens. We have not even lost one of the chickens. The chickens are 6 weeks old and are ready to be slaughtered and sold.” Gift - dressed in a handsome black suit, sporting a beautifully designed tie – smiles broadly as he explains: “A thousand chickens means that we are mass producing. We can’t slaughter them by hand as there are hygiene and health regulations we have to comply with. Selling live chickens to the community might take too long as we will have to continue feeding and caring for these chickens until they are sold. It is not profitable to continue maintaining chickens that are older than 42 days (6 weeks) old. What we want to invest in next is slaughtering, defeathering and refrigeration equipment and machinery.” These are not the recipients of charitable handout, but savvy and committed entrepreneurs and small-scale poultry farmers. They speak of expansion, how to re-invest in their business and what it would take for them to grow into a larger operation. They are strategic. Gift takes it upon himself to express the group’s eternal thanks to JRS for the assistance they provided in starting this poultry rearing initiative. “Once we have everything in place, this project will most certainly sustain livelihoods.” Gift says. Marcelle Bosch, assists JRS by providing sewing and handicraft lessons to refugees and asylum seekers, the majority of which are women. She runs the picturesque four star lodge, Madi a Thavha, nestled cosily amongst the mountains overlooking Makhodo a few kilometres away. Originally from the Netherlands, she came to South Africa 15 years ago and after working in the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) sector for four years, she and her husband relocated to Makhado and started the lodge. She has always had an interest in the rural communities of Southern Africa. “There are no real tourist attractions in the area, but what brings international tourists to this area is the interest they have in the people that live an authentic, rural life here. Tour guides take tourists into the villages where they meet people and buy their intricate works of art and designs.” Bosch explains. Her knowledge of how to create a captivated market, where it technically should not exist, is in turn passed on to refugees and asylum seekers being assisted through the JRS livelihoods project. For two days a week, over a six week period, refugee and asylum seeking women are taught skills in creative therapy, handicrafts, sewing and baking. There after these women can start their businesses within the settlements around Makhado, or within the town itself. Bosch and the assistance she provides to JRS, demonstrates how everyone, particularly local enterprise can extend a helping hand in ensuring that the lives and livelihoods of cross border migrants, particularly vulnerable refugees, can be improved.





Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404