Herbal bounty for impoverished communities

Break Time Buddies member Siphosethu Molo has been sharing her agriculture skills at the INMED aquaponics system at NMU’s Missionvale campus
NUTRITION STIMULUS: Break Time Buddies member Siphosethu Molo has been sharing her agriculture skills at the INMED aquaponics system at NMU’s Missionvale campus

In an effort to bring sustenance and hope to poverty-stricken areas during the national lockdown, the troops of Break Time Buddies have harvested basil and celery crops and shared the bounty with the surrounding community.

Break Time Buddies is a component of Nelson Mandela University’s INMED’s school-based Health In Action programme.    

Situated at the university’s Missionvale campus, the project aims to provide nutrition and healthy lifestyle education for children, teachers and parents in disadvantaged communities. They have been active for nearly five years.

There are six Break Time Buddies in Nelson Mandela Bay, each responsible for five schools situated in Motherwell, Kwazakhele, Zwide, New Brighton and the northern areas.

The Break Time Buddies say their harvest was sorted into 30 packs containing various herbs such as basil and celery, adding that the packs also included information about the benefits of the herbs and how to incorporate them into meals.

At least 30 households benefited from the products with some families, where space was available, helped to set up their own gardens.

The team said interacting with the community had been fruitful, adding that many of the residents in Missionvale were eager to learn about INMED’s aquaponics system at the Missionvale campus.

One of the Break Time Buddies, Ntombekhaya Ngindana, said she had been part of the programme for four years, with the project opening up a whole new world.

“This has also allowed me to give back to my community. I’m especially very passionate about learner development,” Ngindana said.

Siphosethu Molo said the team had planted the crop at least six weeks before the date of harvest.

“It’s always such a wonderful feeling seeing the harvest and the joy it brings to the community,” Molo said.

“Considering my agricultural background, what attracted me to the programme is the opportunity to learn about different food production techniques such as aquaponics and also to share my agricultural skills to improve lives.”

Health In Action programme manager Dr Sandra Pretorius said Health in Action and Break Time Buddies spoke to multiple youth development and employment-related factors.

“Break Time Buddies, in particular, also addresses developmental assets, such as positive values and identity, social competencies, empowerment and support for previously unemployed youth from the community,” she said.

“During the Covid-19 lockdown, many of our Health in Action communities have struggled beyond belief.

“We are so proud of the work our teams are doing in these communities to bring sustenance and hope to people who have been marginalised by poverty and other socioeconomic challenges.” 


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