A budding collaboration: Eloolo Permaculture to support Sonder Water Community (by Reinhold Mangundu)

Progress Namibia - A budding collaboration: Eloolo Permaculture to support Sonder Water Community (by Reinhold Mangundu)
22 July 2020

In the last two weeks, with the donations of seedlings from compassionate people, we managed to successfully set up two home-based gardens at Sonder Water. I planted a number of papaya fruit and a variety of vegetable seedlings in the garden of Meme Erna (Mother hen of the community) and that of Alwyn (The unemployed welding champion). They had all established small garden patches and together with some friends, we excitingly dug them up, added nutrient-rich sand from a small river behind their community, and all sort of good organic content we scavenged from the surroundings. The vegetables planted are winter veggies, so they should grow pretty well. They are all looking lovely, as they grow through the thick mulch from the dry grass we added.

Last Saturday morning, I had a site visit to Sonder Water with my good friend Donavon. He is a specialist in agro-ecological practices and has established some amazing permaculture-based gardens at schools and in poor communities as part of their Eloolo Permaculture Initiative. Their initiative endeavours to improve and enhance socio-ecological systems guided by their ethics, which are: care for the people, care for earth and fair share. These have guided them for the past years to passionately work on projects addressing urban food security, community education and sustainability.

The reason for the visit was to introduce him to Sonder Water, to meet the residents and see what we have already started. This allowed him to also find the areas where they can be of support, particularly in regards to the community-based gardens as a source of livelihoods.

“Reinhold, this is a great community. It is small and we can do a lot here to support you.’’

In light of Donavan’s visit to Sonder Water and our conversation with some of the residents, Eloolo Permaculture has offered to give fruit trees to the residents. They suggested the possibility of training workshops, where residents will be taught the basics of gardening and the art of growing fruit trees. The idea is to get their program to buy these fruit trees from the residents as a way of initiating small-scale employment opportunities.

What initially was a quick site visit, turned into an envisioning of a spectrum of amazing possibilities that could be explored. Eloolo envisions themselves enhancing and supporting different skills through a kind of small working hub at Sonder Water. I have liaised with the Cooperate Services Department of Trans Namib, to get an old shipping container donated to the community. The container is to be transformed and used as a working hub, where skilled people like Alwyn could be making pallet furniture and/or welding rocket stoves or make solar ovens. These are all contingent on the success of the gardens and the availability of resources and time, both from the For Progress Namibia Project Team and the Eloolo Permaculture Initiative.

Is it not amazing that in the current turmoil, we start seeing the true power of small compassionate acts built on collaboration? Similar to acupuncture, they act as strong powerful points affecting change in the entire system, incrementally of course. They can promote positive change beyond the existing bureaucratic grip hindering progress in our government institutions. I say this, acknowledging that it would have been slow or almost impossible to get the gardens established through the Katutura-East Constituency (e.g. trying to access capital projects funding). It is thus warming to see the impact of collaboration and compassionate leadership at grassroots.