Conservancy Covid-19 Response

The vision of the Dargle Conservancy is to strengthen its effectiveness as an independent organisation, and in coalition with other like-minded people and bodies, to work proactively to achieve a greater Midlands area that is wisely managed by all to ensure long term environmental sustainability.

The recent Covid-19 Crisis has demanded that Dargle Conservancy expand its activities to include assistance for vulnerable communities affected by Lockdown and loss of income.   For over a decade, Dargle Conservancy has supported initiatives in local schools and communities which aim to increase awareness of the importance of caring for the natural environment and the creation of vegetable gardens.  There can be no doubt that when communities are stressed and hungry, there will be a negative impact on wildlife and nature.

Zuzokuhle (Zu) is situated beside the road between Dargle and Howick. Tucked between the motorway and the railway line in Tweedie, it is a small settlement of dwellings creatively built from scrap wood from the local pallet factory. While there are advantages to living close to the town of Howick, life without basic services is pretty challenging at the best of times.  Convid-19 and the Lockdown, meant that many sources of employment dried up and vulnerable people became even more desperate.  Through local networks it become clear that many people had suddenly lost their income generating opportunities (from recycling, car guarding) and needed help.

Dargle Conservancy set about supporting this community by providing basic provisions and toiletries. Local farmers have contributed too. Manny Salgado delivering cabbages and butternuts and dozens of eggs from Kevin Barnsley. Gugu Mungwe, a young woman passionate about her community, who has lived at Zuzokuhle her entire life, is the connection to ensure that the food aid is distributed to those who need it most.

Along the Petrusstroom Road in Dargle, residents of Nxamalala Village have also been affected. Many homeowners here rely on casual employment, hawking snacks at the local school or seasonal work on farms. For lots of children, the meal provided by the school feeding scheme, is their main one of the day, so with schools closed, they are hungry.  Dargle Conservancy committee member Gugu Zuma says things are hard and people are starting to panic. “Shops are so far away, even if you have money it is a challenge to get groceries now. Luckily, some of us have food gardens which are helping, and we are sharing our groceries with those who need it.”

The Dargle Conservancy Covid-19 fund is also supporting vulnerable families in neighbouring Impendle, where many depend on social grants supplemented by occasional work, and hundreds of children rely on the meal they receive at school. “With no way of earning even a small amount of money, families are desperately waiting for their child grants to come in May,” says Impendle resident Zandile Sikhakane, “Thank you to all members of Dargle for supporting these families. I was so touched by the words of Miss Thembi Ndlela. She said ‘I don’t have the words to say thank you for the food. Me and my children we were going to drink water and sleep with only water if this organization didn’t save us. Please pass my thanks to them. I cry when my children say they are hungry.’

 In the Hlelolusha area, Nomvula Mnikathi is extremely concerned about all the children who are not getting a meal while the schools are closed. These two women are helping identify families in need and distribute food parcels with assistance from the Dargle community.

Plenty of pledges from members of the Conservancy, and a generous donation of R20 000 from the St Andrews Dargle Community Church to the relief project, has meant that more families (over 80 so far) are receiving some help. Thank you.

Lynne Garbutt (treasurer of the Dargle Conservancy) has never been involved in anything like this before but is using her corporate skills to get organised rapidly, raising funds as needed and making sure the produce gets to the right people. “Much to my surprise, I am really enjoying this and meeting such interesting people,” she says.

Should you wish to support this community particularly, contact Lynne Garbutt 082 457 2583, or make a donation directly to: Dargle Conservancy, First National Bank, Howick Branch code: 220725, Acc : 622 1187 9236, Ref: Covid19

Holiday Fun at Nxamalala

Dargle Conservancy organised a Holiday Club at Nxamalala village on the Petrusstroom Road.  Gugu Zuma ran it with enthusiasm and imagination!dargle holiday club nxamalala 011

The kids were so happy to be involved as it was the first time they had ever had a holiday club. Thobani Gumede said “It is the first holiday that I do something meaningful. Usually we just play soccer.”

Nxalalala kids gather for holiday fun

On Wednesday the focus was on Farming – comparing industrial and family farming and discussing the importance of healthy food. Everyone was surprised to learn that healthy food is that which you grow in your garden, rather than that you buy at the shop.

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Most commercial vegetables have been sprayed with chemicals that are not good for your body. Now everyone is keen to make an organic garden to keep their families healthy and pass this message onto their friends.

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On the second day we discussed the water cycle and water pollution before heading down the road to do a miniSASS test in the uMngeni River.

Nxamalala kids head to the wetland

We found some insects and worked out that the river was in Poor Condition which is not good for drinking. Mhloniswa Ncele was surprised “I always thought that moving water was clean.”

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We also explored the wetland. The kids knew a lot about wetlands from school lessons and have made a commitment to look after the wetland in Nxamalala. Sabelo Zuma found a frog “I always thought that frogs were dangerous, but now I am not afraid to touch and hold them.” Using candles and watercolours, everyone drew pictures of things they observed in the wetland.

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On Friday, we made mandalas using leaves and flowers that we picked around the houses.

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This was part of an Anger Management lesson. The basic principles being: expect the best, think before reacting, ask for a non-violent path, care for others and respect yourself. All these are transforming powers and I taught the children how to apply these in their own lives. We used these words when we created the mandala. The boys were so amazed to know that there was a way to solve a problem non-violently through good communication.

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This was our last lesson and everyone enjoyed it. Peni Hanbury, Jenny Fly and Nikki Brighton supplied sandwiches, juice and fruit each day. “They asked if we could please have a regular Enviro Club in Nxamalala.” concludes Gugu.

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