In 2007, the Vebego Foundation committed to its first project in South Africa: the construction of the Mziki Agri Village. This was an initiative of Peter Cornelius, a white farmer, who handed over his land for the construction of 385 houses for the mostly poor black population, who often still live in very basic conditions.
Years of apartheid politics in South Africa had made the inhabitants of the area more like enemies than good neighbours. Through the Peace & Development Programme, a group of 85 residents participated in a project to work on mutual respect, appreciation and trust. This was important to the success of the project.
In 2007 and 2008, Vebego employees, together with Habitat for Humanity and local construction workers, built 140 houses. The main objective was that the community would eventually become self-sufficient and independent. During our presence in the area and based on further research, it became apparent that, in addition to a home, the residents had two basic needs: food and work.
To encourage self-sufficiency, the Foundation supported an education project for two years to teach families to grow food in vegetable gardens. These 30 families then passed on their knowledge to other families. In addition, the Vebego Foundation has provided a 'fencing machine'. The fences were needed to protect the kitchen gardens from free-roaming and grazing wildlife. The use of this 'fencing machine' also created jobs.
During the previous building trips, we always visited schools in the region. During those visits, we noticed many children per classroom, outdoor cooking and leaking roofs. After mapping out the needs of the schools, the Vebego Foundation teamed up with Project Build, a social entrepreneur who uses the children's parents in the construction work. This way, the school had a durable, strong building and the parents learned practical building skills including how to maintain the building. The health of both children and staff improved significantly because of better, more hygienic conditions in classrooms and kitchens.