R390 000 South African Muslim Charitable Trust Donation Transforms Shongweni-based Facility For The Intellectually Impaired

An injection of R390 000 to extend high-care facilities, equip bathrooms for the physically disabled and kick-start an agricultural project aimed at reducing reliance on donor funding has transformed Horizon Farm Trust at Shongweni, outside Durban.

The donation, made by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT) recently is set to make a telling difference to the future of this important Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation and home to 28 intellectually-impaired residents.

Commenting at the official hand-over of the building extensions and agricultural assistance funding, SAMCT representative Mr Gaf Osman said: “The work of Horizon Farm Trust, in accommodating and improving the quality of life of intellectually impaired adults, through structured indoor and outdoor activities, is to be greatly admired and applauded. I am sure the completed building extensions and provision for agricultural assistance will make a telling difference to the future of this important
facility.”

Staffed by 25 dedicated carers, the 32-acre Shongweni-based Farm, which was established in 2004, provides its residents a healthy life-style in a friendly atmosphere. Mr Gaf Osman stressed: “Eleven of its residents reside in the facility’s main house – considered a high-care facility. However and as a consequence of increased applications, it became clear that this component of the farm needed to be extended. In undertaking such an extension, it was imperative that this high-care building had a direct link to the facility’s medical centre, as well as the administration hub. In addition, a second house on the farm required urgent renovations to its bathroom facilities, better equipping them to cater for the farm’s more physically disabled
residents.”

Learning of Horizon Farm Trust’s needs and in the knowledge that the Trust does not receive any Government grant funding and was, therefore, reliant on donor funding, the SAMCT was quick to assist, providing R290 000 towards the necessary infrastructural extensions.

“The facility is to be praised, too, for the huge and proactive effort it has made towards the realisation of its endeavour to become more financially self-sustaining. In this regard, Horizon Farm Trust sought a project as a means of reducing its dependence on donor funding,” added Mr Gaf Osman.

The intention was to create a grow-and-sell project involving its residents, through which to earn
an income for the Trust. Mr Gaf Osman indicated: “Whilst striving to operate its residential services facilities on a break-even
or profitable basis and sourcing donor funds for its capital projects, the Trust recognised that to sustain the farm facility during the next 50 years, it needed to introduce sustainable projects to help meet its financial objectives. A sustainable, ‘Green’, low-tech agricultural project capable of supporting this objective and using existing resources and the participation of residents was
identified…. Vetiver Grass.”

Vetiver Grass, which originated in India, boasts excellent properties for water control, preventing soil erosion and assisting with the soil’s moisture content. It is also an effective windbreak and assists with the rejuvenation of dried-out areas. The grass was first developed by the World Bank for soil and water conservation in India in the 1980s and is regarded as an effective and low-cost natural method of environmental protection.

Although not indigenous, the grass is not invasive and is supported formally by The Institute of Natural Resources, in Pietermaritzburg, and both eThekwini Municipality’s Storm Water & Sanitation and Parks & Gardens Departments.

“Horizon Farm Trust initiated a pilot project two years ago, which has proven highly successful and having recognised a clear demand for the product, was intent on bringing the product to the marketplace, as a viable ‘Green’ solution. However, it lacked the capital to kick-start the project, which would lay the foundation for the ongoing production of Vetiver Grass,” said Mr Gaf Osman.

He added that SAMCT was very impressed by both the Horizon Farm Trust’s determination to introduce a project to help itself financially, and the nature of the ‘Green’ agricultural solution it identified and in which its residents could participate, which will impact positively in the fight against environmental degradation.

“We were delighted to be in a position to provide Horizon Farm Trust with a further R100 000, as seed capital for the initiation of the project. Once underway, the Trust envisages that the project will become self-sustainable and generate a substantial annual income for the farm, subject to demand levels,” he said.

The SAMCT, which was created in 2008, was established to provide funding, services and other resources for the improvement of the lives of the vulnerable, deprived and disadvantaged. It has successfully delivered sizeable assistance solutions throughout the country, irrespective of race or religion and works to support needy organisations in the fields of health, social development,
poverty alleviation and education.

“Horizon Farm Trust is an organisation doing amazing work for the betterment of the lives of its intellectually impaired residents and, critically, is looking to become more financially sustainable by identifying and having the determination to introduce a business idea which will not only provide an income, but which will also have a positive environmental impact. We consider it a privilege to have been able to play a part in the expansion of the Trust’s facilities and in kick-starting its most laudable
income-generating initiative,” Mr Gaf Osman concluded.

For more information about SAMCT and its Horizon Farm Trust building extension and
agricultural assistance donations, please contact:
Rasheeda Motala
Social Responsibility Officer
Email: samct@samct.co.za

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