The Maumong Orphanage in Marikana, North West, was established to take care of the orphaned and vulnerable children in the community.

The organisation says that, with Shoprite's support, it hopes to to expand its food garden to feed more neglected children.

The orphanage was started in 2013 by community members who wanted to offer refuge to children who had no one else to turn to. The tribal chief in the area offered the group a building that wasn't being used and this became their base.

Ester Motse, who grew up in the area, became involved in 2019 after community members realised that the orphanage needed help.

"Because we live in the community, we could see that the orphanage food garden wasn't doing well so we started to assist with the planting," says Motse. The orphanage provides 38 children with three meals a day and the administrators have ambitions to increase the number of children they feed to 300.

"We would like to grow enough food for all the needy children in our area. The tools and seeds we received from Shoprite will help us achieve this goal," adds Motse.

The workshops at Maumong are attended by a team of people who are now working full-time in the garden, as well as 30 community members, who are planting their own vegetables at home.

The organisation has confirmed that strict safety protocols are adhered to at the training workshops and every participant must wear a face mask for the duration of the workshop. 

Each attendee has their temperature taken upon arrival, with a 1.5-meter distance being maintained between participants during the workshop.

One of the modern farming techniques that resonated with the volunteer gardeners was mulching, which involves covering the ground around the crops with grass cuttings to keep the moisture in the soil.

According to the organisation, access to water in Marikana during winter is challenging and so Shoprite supplied a 10 000-litre water tank, together with a petrol pump and the necessary piping, to ensure a reliable water supply to the garden.

"We learned a lot during the training sessions. It's going to help us grow more food and it's so important that we now have this knowledge," concludes Motse.

The Shoprite Group's food garden programme is a long-term strategy employed to combat hunger. In the short term, it aims to bring hunger relief to communities through Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets' surplus food donations, which has exceeded R65-million since the start of the lockdown.

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