May 15, 2018


In 2006, Meryline Ntimande was yet another unemployed member of the poor rural community of Acornhoek, over 30km away from Hazyview in Mpumalanga. Just over a decade later, she is in charge of feeding over 1000 people (adults as well as children) in and around her village with support from a 40-strong team working in the food garden she established.

Ntimande’s role as a community heroine began when she put the burden of unemployment aside and launched Tiyimiseleni Home-Based Care. Initially, her intention was to look after sick people in their own homes, but she was equally determined to alleviate the suffering of local children.

“Many of these children were orphans or at risk – and they were all hungry. As a result, many of them didn’t attend school. I am a strong believer in the power of education. I believe it is the key to a better life for these underprivileged youngsters. That’s why I was so motivated to feed them and encourage them to attend school.”

- Meryline Ntimande, who started Tiyimiseleni Home-Based Care


Within five years, Ntimande’s poverty alleviation programme was supporting around 223 local children as well as ill and frail adults. She had support from her local Catholic Church and also started receiving funding and food donations from game lodges and other responsible businesses in her area. It was at this point that she took the first step towards self-sufficiency by establishing a food garden to ensure a reliable supply of fresh produce for her programme.

Since early 2017, Shoprite has been supporting the efforts of Ntimande and her team through access to training, improved infrastructure and a greater understanding of gardening basics.

In addition to upgrading the garden, its irrigation system and services were also repaired whilst Shoprite supplied new tools, plant materials, equipment, educational material and hippo rollers. New trees for an orchard have also been planted and Ntimande is confident that her team now has the knowledge and skills to sustain the food garden as a vital community asset.

“It’s never been easy here, but we just keep on trying. Once you say ‘I want to make this happen’, don’t lose hope and ignore people who tell you it’s not possible. We can make a difference.”

- Meryline Ntimande


Given such determination, it is fitting that ‘tiyimiseleni’ means being fully committed to what you are doing.

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