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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Guest Blogger: Thatu

I think this is a great charity, and have asked Ali to tell me more about it.

Thank you Phelan for asking me to contribute this piece to your blog. Today I would like to tell your readers about, and invite them to get involved with, a charity called Thatu.

Thatu is a UK registered charity established in 2004, that fund-raises to support grass roots and self-help projects in areas of South Africa that are challenged by scarce resources and the effects on the community of the HIV / AIDS epidemic.

Thatu at present focuses on the support of community run organic permaculture food gardens.

Why food gardens?
In the areas that Thatu works, where children have been lucky enough to acquire school places, sometimes they do not get regular food and it is very hard to concentrate on learning school work when hungry. Also, where adults suffering from HIV/AIDS are fortunate enough to have access to retro viral medicines, these only work optimally when the patient has good nutrition.

Apart from the obvious nutritional benefits that a food garden can provide, community food gardens linked with schools allow the acquisition of practical permaculture and gardening skills, so that sustainable management of the resources is taken into the community. The gardens are also used for curricular learning about recycling, reuse and more traditional subjects. For example, children might be asked to bring in from home a container of grey water' (recycled washing water). This is then used to water the garden, and the teacher might get the children to estimate mathematically the volume of water needed to supply plants over a certain area.

Produce is shared between the community volunteers that work in the garden, and any excess is sold and the profits shared between the workers and for the benefit of the garden,

Thatu is supporting 5 food gardens in two areas; Pretoria and the notoriously inhospitable Cape Flats. Each site has its own particular problems and challenges. For example, the soil on the Cape Flats is mainly sea sand, and it is blown by strong winds, so the priority there is to use
permaculture methods to help counter some of the challenges; to establish organic wind breaks and enrich the soil. The message that Thatu's projects all send is that gardens can be established in the most unlikely of circumstances.

As well as all the tangible benefits to food gardening, they all have less measurable, but equally important social benefits. They bring the community together, and they bring pride and hope for the future.

Thatu is very concerned that all the money donated gets spent as intended, and has regular monitoring and reports from the projects that can be read at any time by supporters on its website at One of our important aims is that the projects are sustainable, and ultimately become independently run and continue to bring benefit to the community into the long term.

How to help Thatu

Of course, one of the most important things is to donate and raise money for the projects, and there are numerous fun and interesting ways you can do this. You can read about the many ways to do this at our website in the 'How you can help' section, but here I will outline just a few ideas.

Penny Pinchers Appeal
Thatu will send you a sticky label which you attach to a recycled container, such as a washed out plastic milk carton or jam jar. You then use this to collect small change for Thatu, and then bank it. To get your label and to participate, and for full details, click here. Penny Pinchers Appeal

Stamp Appeal
Is you save used stamps and mail them to Thatu, they are able to sell them on at a small profit for the charity. All stamps are accepted, as well as coins and first day covers. For full details, click here. Stamp Appeal

Jabula in Bantu (an African language) means 'CELEBRATE!' so we use this word as the name for the fund-raising garden parties that our supporters hold to raise money for Thatu. These can be as small as a few friends getting together for coffee, to a full scale fete with games tournaments and musical events! We encourage our supporters to do what they can to use their own gardens to raise money for food gardens in Africa. If you would like to hold a Jabula for Thatu, click here to read more and download a fundraising pack.

Thatu Shop
Thatu has an online shop that sells small gifts - these include children's tools, seeds, envelope re-use labels, and various other nice festive season ideas. Please visit the shop by clicking here.

Network for Thatu
One of the most important things you can do for Thatu is to talk about it! Thatu can really benefit from the people you know. Corporate and Trust donations are vital to Thatu's survival. If you know anyone who works for a large company who could arrange a donation, and who would benefit from the positive publicity being linked with Thatu could bring, please tell them
about Thatu and introduce them to us.

Simply make a one off cash donation, by PayPal, by clicking here Donate Now



Thank you Ali. I already have the Penny Pintchers Appeal, so I have started. This is a charity that I feel many gardeners could get behind. ~Phelan

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