In this photo from left to right: Francois Retief(LIV), Hendrik Viljoen, Warren Hendricks, Hlalelo Makwabe, Omashni Francis, Salome Makgato, Anu Venketsamy, Xoli Shabalala and Sifiso Mkhwanazi
During Tongaat Hulett's Management Development Programme (TH MDP), participants are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of voluntary work or fundraising, as dictated by initiatives identified by Tongaat Hulett Executives. One TH MDP group decided to focus their efforts on LIV Village.
Situated on the hills above the Hazelmere Dam, LIV Village is a safe haven for mostly HIV and AIDS orphans. The village's vision is to "rescue a child, restore a life, raise a leader, release a star." LIV Village owns 100% of LIV Business, which was established to provide for a self-sustaining future and skills development. LIV Business is still in a development stage and hopes to expand their agriculture to produce and pack fresh produce, which would create jobs and expose the children to farming practices.
The village is located on what was previously a sugarcane farm. According to TH MDP participant Jan Erasmus it is in this sustainability arena that he thought he could add value as a volunteer. "The locality provided a flexible and structured effort to get involved with, given the time and work constraints." The participants supported LIV Village in establishing start-up food security projects, and got involved with different aspects of the project. They planted 90 citrus trees that were donated by one of their contacts – a nurseryman in Eshowe – who shared his knowledge with regards to horticulture in KwaZulu-Natal. Jan believes LIV Village has the opportunity to feed themselves and supply the Durban market with surplus produce as a source of income.
According to TH MDP participant Upkar Beecum, the project reminded him of early childhood days of working with his grandfather in the vegetable garden. He believes the team will stay involved by continuing to pass on clothing for kids and teens. Jan agrees and says the team will help by connecting LIV Village with other experts in the food production arena. "With the next engagement we will invite them to view our rural food garden project as our division invests a lot in SED."
With an existing welding school, culinary school, and clothes factory, LIV Village's infrastructure is very impressive and may have future volunteer opportunities for other groups. The team shares the following thoughts with future programme participants:
- You have to be prepared to work hard.
- It is better to work in a group because it's more fun and more is achieved.
- The BDAL project leads to a sense of achievement and motivates community involvement.
- The programme helps you to understand different backgrounds of individuals in your team.
Jacquie Bhana, HR Director at Tongaat Hulett shared the following: "One of Tongaat Hulett's key focus areas is the creation of value for all stakeholders through an all-inclusive approach to growth and development. Therefore, in developing future leaders, the need to focus on issues beyond the company gates is included in their leadership journey, as part of the value requirements of the company. The MDP includes a strong component of stakeholder and community development and the initiative with LIV village, was intended to give participants first hand exposure to some of the needs out there. LIV village provides holistic residential care for orphaned and vulnerable children. They "rescue children, restore lives, raise leaders and release stars". They are located in a tiny corner of the country, in Cotton Lands, Verulam, KZN. LIV village aims to restore a family environment for orphaned and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS. They place children into a family environment with a trained foster mother to love them, a school to educate them, and equip them with essential moral values and life skills so that they grow up to be a generation that will influence positive change within South Africa and beyond. They also have access to participate in a choir, to church to build spiritual richness, and health care for each child. It is said that LIV represents a true reflection of Mandela's dream of a rainbow nation living together in harmony. Some of the candidates on the MDP have never been exposed to community needs right on the doorsteps of their home and their place of work, and this is an invaluable experience to begin to build leaders with a social conscience. This is an important requirement for Tongaat Hulett leaders".