THE Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in King William’s Town contributed towards the Mandela Month campaign by spending 67 minutes cleaning and planting fruit trees at the Zamani Training Centre in Mlakalaka Location, near Zwelitsha on Monday afternoon.
DAFF also handed over a donation of clothing, bedding, toys and uniform as part of an ongoing initiative from staff.
The centre cares for disabled children from as far as Lusikisiki. At the centre they are taught things such as beading, woodwork, recycling and other skills.
DAFF communications officer Linda Donkrag said Zamani Training Centre responded holistically to the needs of children, youth and families who were vulnerable and at risk. That is why they decided to spend 67 minutes of their time helping out at the centre.
The delegation from the department included provincial director of forestry management Gwendoline Sgwabe, her deputy Nomalwande Mbananga and other senior officials.
Sgwabe couldn’t hold back tears during her speech when she addressed staff, pupils and members of the school governing body.
“We were here at the centre on 18 July and I am very touched,” Sgwabe said.
“I didn’t know this will be that serious and why we are here today is what touched me when I entered the premises.
“The department has no money, like any other department, so we just say we will organise and I am so thrilled and proud of my colleagues for coming and spending 67 minutes of their time for Madiba,” a tearful Sgwabe said.
Centre principal Nozibele Mkutswana was also in tears.
“Unemployed community members are screened, selected, trained and deployed to take care of these needy children who have different disabilities.”
She also mentioned the challenges faced by the centre, the most serious of which was a lack of funding. “We have eight staff members and one part-time worker and we all are here, not to work but to help as we receive a stipend and not a salary.
“But the passion we have for working with children is beyond description,” she said.
“The kids are here because some of their parents drink heavily and they [children] are abused and they don’t want to go home during holidays and we can’t force them as they are at home here.”