“Through the Local Fundraising Course offered by Change the Game Academy (CtGA), the biggest lesson that we have learnt is that there is need to initiate and grow profitable and sustainable investment ventures that contribute towards our objectives for the community center.” Vitalis Ochieng, Project Manager Sheep Care Community Centre.
In the middle of Soweto urban slum in Kayole, lays a community center where orphans and disadvantaged children who depended on scavenging for food scraps, could get a free nutritious meal at the end of the day. This is how Sheep Care Community Centre began twelve years ago. At its inception, the programme was meant to bring positive social and economic change within the informal settlements.
However, as time went on, they were forced to adopt a more sustainable approach in dealing with the root causes of the social and economic vulnerability. They then came up with a new approach on development of partnerships for support and investment in household economic resilience programmes. In March 2007, the center was officially registered as a community based organization by Bishop Luke.
Well-wishers assisted in the feeding programme by providing food ingredients, giving their time through volunteering and prepping meals for the children. As time went by, Sheep Care attracted donors who helped in the fundraising efforts. Kapu Africa provided french beans worth Kes. 80,000 and a deep freezer worth Kes. 100,000. Tender Mercy stepped forward to provide rice and lentil popularly known as “hot meal” worth Kes. 80,000.
Sheep care has come up with different ways of earning revenue through their fundraising departments. They have a water bottling plant where they sell bottled water and through that, they are able to sell clean water at a subsidized price to the Soweto community. This ensures that the community has access to clean water, mitigating their health risk exposure compared to not having access to clean water for personal and sanitation use.
Sheep Care additionally has the aquaponics project . Aquaponics involves the combination of rearing aquatic animals such as fish with cultivation of plants in a symbiotic environment. Here at SheepCare, they have integrated a fishing pond with rearing of chicken and growing of vegetables. How does this work? When the chicken excrete, their droppings fall into the pond and serve as food for the fish. The fish feed on the droppings and their excrete produces nitrogenous wastes in form of ammonia and that together with the chicken droppings, cause the water to have important nutrients that serve as fertilizer. The water from the pond is then pumped and used for irrigation of the vegetables. The vegetables are then sold bringing extra income into the center.
Additionally, they rear rabbits which are sold to the community and the meat is served in the center’s restaurant. “We are promoting rabbit meat at Soweto as an alternative to other types of meat.” Vitalis explains as he opens one of the cages in which the rabbits stay.
Sheep Care has a primary and secondary school within its gates where they provide education to the children of Soweto. The students benefit from the feeding program as they come from poor families, as for some, this is the only meal that they get within a day. The volunteer staff who work within Sheep Care also benefit from the meals provided.
“Some of the challenges we have experienced during our fundraising activities is lack of commitment from donors. Most of them make promises in regards to the support they will provide but end up dropping or going against our vision and mission.” Vitalis expounds “Through our different channels of fundraising and the training we have received from Change the Game Academy to enhance our efforts, we have been able to mitigate this issue and be sustainable.”
Sheep Care intends to keep in touch with the donors and improve their own avenues of income to ensure sustainability. They plan to use crowd funding by involving all stakeholders and partners of sheep care such as the youth, churches and schools around the center to participate in games such as cycling, ball games and poetry where the winners will be awarded. This will serve as motivation and it will encourage the community to fundraise money through these interactive channels in a bid to realize a set target.