Pragma is heading off to Chris Nissen Park, in Somerset West, on Friday, 30 November 2012 for its end-of-year corporate social investment (CSI) project. The objective of this project is to ensure social and economic growth within Chris Nissen Park by working with a number of the residents.
Pragma’s employees are aiming to establish 17 new vegetable gardens. Five teams have been formed to fulfil the tasks of creating new beds, planting a range of vegetables, erecting wind resistant fences to protect the gardens and establishing wormeries. Staff members have also donated funds towards garden tools that will be donated to the new garden owners.
The initial vegetable garden project was started by Gerrie van Niekerk, a Somerset West resident, whose dream it was to assist underprivileged people.
While driving into Chris Nissen Park, about a year-and-a-half ago, Van Niekerk realised that this was an area in which he could make a significant difference. He embarked on his journey alongside the men in the area and started a communal vegetable garden based on the 'pay it forward' principle. However, the initiative soon died a quiet death due to political issues.
Paul Wantza, one of the local residents, offered his expertise and muscle to Van Niekerk to help him start a garden in Wantza’s yard. Van Niekerk had one condition - he wanted Wantza to show someone else how to care for a garden, and they again should teach another person in turn, and relay the ‘pay it forward’ principle. They started with a single garden, and within a year, it grew to nine gardens.
In May 2012, Van Niekerk approached Pragma with the possibility of starting a CSI project in Chris Nissen Park. With an unemployment rate of 90%, it became clear that the community was in great need of assistance and people who really cared. This project will help the Chris Nissen Park community by establishing various gardens for community members and by creating jobs for the community, in the community.
“We could see the pride and effort that went into the nine gardens that were established, in the faces of its owners,” says Stéphan Pieterse, People and Organisational Development Manager at Pragma. “Pragma became involved in this project, not to give a ‘freebie’ to those involved but rather to provide the community with a gift that keeps on giving. The community will benefit from their gardens for years to come. We decided to come on board and use our skills, expertise and muscle to recognise the people of Chris Nissen Park and to help them to establish something they could take pride in, something that could provide in their day to day needs and something they could use to help others in their community.”
Pieterse continues: “We will empower 17 new garden owners to manage gardens which will produce fruit and vegetables. We firmly believe that with the continued support of members of the public, very special people like Gerrie van Niekerk and ongoing support from organisations like Pragma, Chris Nissen Park can become a shining example of the real meaning of Ubunthu, and what is possible if we are willing to put the past behind us and work together to be the change we want to see in South Africa."
Pragma will also be involving three of Chris Nissen Park’s crèches on the day. The children will be entertained with painting and drawing activities, and a surprise lucky packet. Employees also eagerly took to donating clothing and house hold items to the community, hoping to make a difference in their challenging living conditions.