Report back on the community project

Dear All

Here is a report back on the community project. It started the week after the easter weekend when the team attended a chainsaw course in the village. The training course took a week and allowed all the team members plus a few reserves to get a certificate and more importantly understand safety and maintenance. This is important when working with lethal equipment like chainsaws when one slip can result in a frontal lobotomy. My admin colleague in Cape Town at SouthSouthNorth is in the process of registering the team members with COIDA so that they can receive workman’s compensation if needed.

First the financials:
The following week on the 4th April, they began clearing land on Kershoutfontein in the village. So far the team of 5 people under Abie’s guidance have cleared about 5Ha of Kershoutfontein. They have cut more than 15,0000 pieces of firewood. They have also kept aside smaller pieces of wood for charcoal if and when we decide to manufacture it.

The conservancy pays each member of the team R 2,000 month and the wood will be sold in bulk to a wood merchant for about 60c a piece which will be used to supplement incomes so that each person will be getting R 3000 per month on average.

At the moment we are charging Kershoutfontein R5,000 / month in clearing charges. This will be reviewed at the end of Q1 of the project and is likely to increase.

In summary:
Income per month
Clearing charge – R 5000
Wood income – R 6000
Total – R 11,000

Expense:
Team 5 x 2000 = R 10,000
Performance from wood sale = R 5,000
Petrol = R 1000
Maintenance = R 500
Total = 16,500

The Conservancy through funding raised, is covering the shortfall. In addition the Conservancy covers Abie’s salary of R 4000 per month, purchase of equipment (about R 40k) and the cost of the initial training course (R16k). I claim travelling costs for my monthly trips from Cape Town.

Abie is busy with a number of additional roles including patrolling the river, teaching local school children about environmental issues, facilitating many meetings on the ‘Kop’ and assisting with the further development of the village food garden. Ideally we should send Abie to attend Saasveld college to do a course in Nature Conservation. He makes all the operational decisions and is a fine young man and well respected in his community.

There are a number of softer benefits that I see:
There is a real sense of pride and ownership in the project and this has translated into renewed productivity amongst community members.
The project has brought members of the various communities in the village together. They are working alongside each other, building bridge and common vision. This is good.

What we need the following support:
Someone to oversee the website redevelopment: we have a small budget and someone to do the work. The website is important for our ability to gain support and raise further funding. I need someone to take this on. Any volunteers?

Further funding – I am working on this.

A vehicle for the project in the village

Landowners who want to hire the team for a few months.
These letters will soon go into a blog on the redesigned website.

That’s all for now

John Thorne
Chairman

Our first pile of wood for sale.