The Association for the Aged (Tafta) is urging corporates and communities to come together to promote sustainable development initiatives in rural parts of KwaZulu Natal.

Nosipho Sibisi (l) and Thini Dlamini (r)

The aged care association says after successfully mentoring the Illungelo Labadala project in Amaoti, Inanda since 2003, members of the community have significantly been upskilled in various ways, including running their own shops, sewing classes for the community, elder and child care, and even providing basic facilities for business people of the region to launch their own enterprises.

“In being involved in the Amaoti project over the past decade and a half, we’ve seen a paradigm shift in how those impacted in the community see themselves. Through initiatives such as the food security project, sewing club, and enterprise development projects, those seniors and other members of the community who opt to be involved, become productive assets of their community, actively contributing to the livelihoods of their families whilst providing the community with affordable products and services usually outside their financial reach,” explained Tafta CEO Femada Shamam of the Illungelo Labadala project.

According to Shamam, the Illungelo Labadala project, which Tafta has mentored since its launch in 2003, is a benchmark facility for other investors to look into when facilitating the provision of basic infrastructure facilities in rural areas. “Tafta went into the area to assist with the protection of the elderly, and to help facilitate a safe pension pay point facility. What has materialised is a sustainable, multi-purpose centre that has the potential to grow into a skills development and economic hub for the region under the guidance of the Illungelo Labadala team taking over the facility’s management and ownership from Tafta in April this year,” added Shamam.

Some of the projects being run in the facility, apart from the basic elder care and school after-care programmes, include a food security gardening programme, a sewing class, a charity shop, and business facilities for local business people.

Joseph Mtimkulu (72) and John Zondo (67) have both been working on patches of the Illungelo garden, which is used by a total of 7 gardeners, since 2013. Mtimkulu, who worked in shipping prior to his retirement, says his garden yield of spinach, pumpkin, potatoes and other vegetables have allowed him to both pay the Illungelo management a nominal commission and keep him happy and fit too. “I earn a bit of income in this way and it helps me stay fit. So I’m very grateful”. Mtimkulu says the water being provided by JoJo tanks, donated by a Tafta sponsor, help during the current water shortage the area is experiencing.

Another happy community resident Thini Dlamini (68) attends the sewing classes held weekly on the Illungelo premises, and recently, hosted by local Fashion Designer Nosipho Sibisi, who volunteers her time to the class. “I’ve always sewn on a smaller scale, but since coming in for classes, my skills have grown and I am able to sew for more customers in the community. I support a household of 2 orphans I care for and 3 of my own grandchildren and their mother. It would be wonderful if we could get some fabric sponsored as well so we could expand our businesses in the community,” said Dlamini.

Local businesswoman Nanazi Zikhali is the managing director of her 11-month old business Mgabadeli. After working from home and facing the challenge of working without a printing facility and landline, Zikhali moved into the Illungelo Labadala facility in January of this year to run her business as a quote sourcing agency for local businesses. To pay the nominal rental fee for the space she uses, Zikhali also sells meals to the local workers in the area. “I don’t earn a basic salary and apart from helping me reach out for more business with the landline and business facilities, the additional stream of income earned through the meals helps me keep afloat while my business grows”.

Treasurer of the Ilungelo Labadala committee Mrs Adelaide Valashiya, who also runs the charity shop in the facility since 2003, has been through a marketing business training course facilitated by Tafta. Valashiya who will soon be ready to hand over the reins of running the shop to someone else, says she sees the potential for the facility to develop and expand much further in the future and looks forward to when the community takes over the reins to implement programmes they have planned for the facility’s growth.

To learn more about the Illungelo Labadala project, contact Tafta at 031 332 3721 or email


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