I joined the Siyazisiza Trust when it had been in operation for five years and have had the privilege to work with Mrs Mary Rose and all the founding Trustees and Chairman.   The Trust is now 31.  It’s very gratifying to have been a contributor to the growth, development and success of the Trust over this period.

I started on a purely administrative basis and, as the Trust grew, moved into the finance department and progressed to my present position of Financial Director.   In the beginning, the Trust’s work was focused on projects such as community gardens, poultry projects, candle-making, sewing and embroidery, fencing and block-making projects designed to provide subsistence in the most rural areas of northern KwaZulu-Natal where communities had no access to banks, shops, markets and the road infrastructure was almost non-existent.

Over time I watched many of subsistence farmers grow into independent businesses, selling their produce to the likes of Boxer Stores, Spar, local community schools, hospitals, etc.

In 1999, the Trust began assisting rural crafters.    Using traditional crafting skills, the Trust involved product developers and designers to increasing the product range.  The objective was to find markets while ensuring a high standard of quality craft and a fair return to the crafters.

More recently, the Trust recognized that, in order to really create enterprises, the “middleman” function should be handed over to young aspirant business owners.   I had both the opportunity and the pleasure to train and mentor these marketing business owners in financial management.   I developed a simple manual for practical training to introduce them to basic bookkeeping.   It is hugely satisfying that, whatever the outcome of the businesses, they have acquired a skill in bookkeeping and financial management which they can take to any workplace in the future.

I was honored to meet King Goodwill Zwelithini and to be invited to stay at one of his homes and learn about the deep roots and culture of the Zulu people.

When taking donors to visit projects which they supported, I was always captivated by the natural warmth and hospitality of the local people.

All the effort and any difficulties over the years were repaid by the appreciation of the people and the hard work that women, in particular, put into everything they did.   As an example, and there are many I could detail, a particular group of women dug kilometers of trenching for the piping required for their garden. The proceeds from their garden fed and schooled all the orphaned children in the area and supported less fortunate families.

My time with the Trust has been very fulfilling and exciting and it is an honor to be a part of its ongoing mission and success.