Blessing, Gray, Loveline, Thando and myself set out on an exciting ten-hour journey from Cape Town to East London for a three day monitoring and evaluation workshop with the people of Msobomvu.
Project 90 has been working closely with the Msobomvu community since 2011 – exploring relevant ways to engage and upskill, and implementing technologies to improve the energy, food and water security within the community.
We drove through the night and as we hit the last stretch of the journey towards the village we were greeted with the heartening sight of green rainwater harvest tanks dispersed over the landscape.
As we approached the community hall in Msobomvu an unlikely relationship caught my eye – between a piglet and a puppy. I was intrigued by the adorable companionship and was keen to see how the relationship played out, but I had to quickly divert my attention back to the immediate task at hand.
Our roles as a part of a monitoring and evaluation exercise was to see if, and how, the various interventions of solar Lightboxes, Wonderbags, Rocket stoves and rain water harvesting tanks had impacted the lives of the community members.
As the days progressed and we had the opportunity to spend more time with the residents, I realised that the unlikely friendship I had spotted early with the puppy and the piglet was a personification of the relationship between Project 90 by 2030 and the community of Msobomvu. The more I connected with the community, the more I realised how important forging a relationship is – it is an active process from both parties. There were two vital components that were present – trust and participation – both were integral in this process.
As one of the newest additions to Project 90, I was not involved in the initial engagement with the community. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the lives of the Msobomvu residents have been changed for the better – the community has been strengthened and now has access to water, basic lighting and cooking facilities, with more developments along the way, including the setup of a farmers group cooperative.
Msobomvu was an eye opening experience and gave me a new perspective on how many South Africans live – my hope is that more people will be empowered through similar engagements and experiences.
Neoka Naidoo – Community Partnership Intern