The story of Siyakhana is not only a story of permaculture, organic produce and community health promotion. It is also a story of growth: of how seeds are cultivated to develop into seedlings; of how seedlings are nurtured to flourish into viable plants, and of how plants nourish and heal hungry bodies. Most of all, however, this story of growth is about the people that work here, dedicating their lives to ensuring that the garden is always in a thriving state of being.

This is why we are dedicated to continuously finding ways to invest in our people. As Siyakhana is a mixed-gender project, there is a presumption that patriarchal belief systems could permeate the women’s work experience and these beliefs could extend to incidences of gender-based violence. Indeed, a former woman employee at the garden was raped by a fellow male colleague. Hence, Siyakhana decided to equip and empower the farmers to ensure that such an incident wouldn’t happen again.

Through Michele Engelberg, Siyakhana offered a self-defense workshop to our women farmers. Michele, who runs ‘Keep Safe Personal Protection and Self-Defense’ workshops, taught the women valuable skills to combat rape and other gender-based violence. The women were also instructed on how to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime and what to do when faced with an imminent threat. The workshop was well-received and Michele will conduct a follow-up session in July.

Learning skills to protect oneself

Kickboxing techniques

Learning to fight back

Testimonials

“Michelle’s sessions were very important for us young women; we learnt new self defence skills and also had a good time and it has given me greater confidence’”                                                                              – Mabatho, agri student

“The training was a nice break from the agricultural work but it will help me so much on a personal level especially how to look after myself  and to make me aware of our surroundings .’                                           -Tracey, farmer

“The sessions not only taught me specific techniques of self defence but also made me understand about thinking calmly when applying these methods                                                                                              – Samue farmer

“I’m so happy to be working at Siyakhana where we are given many opportunities to learn new things including sessions in self defence and other physical activities which makes me physically and mentally stronger. Thank you Siyakhana .”                                                                                                                                 – Aneli, Agri student