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Local Knowledge: Opportunity for Students

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Social Policy (Development Studies Masters) class visited LIV-Village on a field trip on 28th May, 2013. Situated in Cottonlands, Verulam, LIV-Village is an organization that seeks to provide 'holistic residential care' for vulnerable children.

Our students are given the opportunity to visit areas which are typical of those that they study.

LIV Village.

The Social Policy (Development Studies Masters) class visited LIV-Village on a field trip on 28th May, 2013. Situated in Cottonlands, Verulam, LIV-Village is an organization that seeks to provide 'holistic residential care' for vulnerable children.

Two students, Thembi Shangase (Development Studies) and Nthabiseng Marie (Population Studies) reported on the trip. (For more information see:

Report from Thembi:
Situated in Cottonlands, Verulam, just a stone’s throw from Tongaat and Ndwedwe, LIV-Village is an organization that seeks to provide a 'holistic residential care for vulnerable children'. The village is a product of 'Baba' Tich Smith’s vision, in which he envisioned '10,000 villages, each raising and impacting 500 orphans, ‘the right way’, 5 million children rescued, raised and rebuilt to become future leaders impacting the continent of Africa, reaching out to other orphans.' Indeed when entering the village, one is greeted by colourful houses lacing the 83 acres of hill land upon which first LIV-village is built.
Within the village there is also a church, pre-school, primary school and a high school under construction. Upon our arrival we were met by Mark Emerson, Siya Shange and Alan Beesley, who were later our tour guides through the village. A brief presentation on LIV’s organisational model was giving by 'Baba' Smith, followed by a discussion on the recruitment process for the kids and the mothers, as well as the Social grant system used to fund each child in the village.
Baba Smith, the founder and his wife, Joan, who, together have extensive prior experience working with vulnerable children in the Mawoti area, along with the team at the village believed that the best way to achieve this holistic social care is through partnerships between the church, government and business.

Through trained social workers and in collaboration with the department of Social Services, vulnerable and orphaned children are placed into a family in the village. Each family consists of a mother and the children placed under her care; each mother cares for a maximum of six kids. At the village the children are therefore provided with shelter, a loving mother, God as the father (spiritual care), nutrition and education. The village is sustained via LIV–Business which 100% BEE and with all the proceeds going to the children.

The foster care grants system is the second mechanism used, which ensures all the childrens needs are met; proceeds from donors and the LIV- Banquet are also use to further finance the village. And lastly corporates make Corporate Social Responsibility (CSI) contributions to LIV, sponsoring or covering various needs at the village – such as a computer room, a sports field, a kids play area and various other voluntary activities.

There aren’t many words one could use to describe the great work that occurring at the LIV-village, it is all too overwhelming. I would in fact say it is an ideal model for delivering care for the vulnerable in the country. What I found striking, was how every single element of the village was built around sustainability, not only financially but also environmentally. The village is powered on solar energy, and to each house in a water tank attached for rain water harvesting. Mark mentioned at the beginning of our tour that the school building was previously a chicken shed and that as far as the can possible can they aim to preserve the old farm buildings on the property.

Alan also highlighted in his presentation that they also partner with the surrounding community and school in other poverty alleviation projects. LIV therefore services not only the resident community but also the Cottonlands community which surrounds them.
This field trip helped put into perspective a lot of the debates we have in class on social policy and social assistance models. When the team highlighted some of their challenges and needs, it reminded me of debates on who is responsible for provision and the mechanism for provision and the degree to which the state ought to be involved. LIV for me was proof that you could use capitalism to benefit the poor, and that business could make incredible contributions to poverty alleviation in the country; however governance is still a key challenge for most NPOs & NGOs.

(Thembi Shangase – Development studies Masters Programme)

Report from Nthabiseng

The trip to LIV Village afforded us a great opportunity to see how the practical side of social policy takes shape. Liv Village is colourful space in an otherwise dull area, beautiful, clean, modern and inviting. Beyond the aesthetics however is a truly innovative and inspirational idea that left me with the following thoughts:

· The upliftment of communities is possible with the commitment and partnership of different stakeholders (private, government and public). Liv village is an example of such commitment. It is a growing project with great potential of being replicated locally and internationally.
· The Liv village project appears as capitalism with a human face. The owners are committed to working around the capitalist system so that the beneficiaries of it are ordinary South Africans most at need of social assistance.
· We can extend ordinary ideas like that of a typical children’s home into more innovative, brighter spaces that move away from the typical institutions with white walls and high fences.
· The conservation of the environment and sustainability practices should be part of our everyday lives and it is never too early to start learning that valuable lesson.
· Institutions like churches have an important role to play in our communities.
Overall I would say, LIV Village is a reminder that it truly does take a village to raise a child and that the spirit of ubuntu is still very much alive in South Africa.

(Nthabiseng Marie – Population Studies Masters Programme)

In 2012....

Inchanga Primary

Cathy Sutherland's Environment and Development (Masters in Development Studies) class spent the morning at Inchanga Primary School. Cathy has long-standing relationship with the school as part of her ‘Schools as centres of sustainability research’. Against all odds Mr Shau the headmaster of Inchanga Primary, and his committed staff, try all kinds of innovative approaches to address social and environmental issues in the school. The students had prepared an environmental lesson for the Grade 6 and 7 learners – they learnt as much from the children about their environment as they ended up teaching them.

Students on the Development Management coursein years gone byhad the opportunity to to view several of the projects currently being undertaken by the Durban Municipality’s Rural Area Based Management programme. This field trip was a culmination of much of the learning that had been going on in the classroom. Pictures are from a Hydroponics Project in Georgedale, and a tourism project in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

In that year students visited Cato Crest,a section ofCato Manor, where they were addressed by Umkhumbane Entrepreneurial Support Centre staff, saw a selection of projects there, and visited a local library.

Cato Manor

Cato Manor is an example of local economic development under the city's Area-Based Management plan. It has a population of 90,000 and is close to the city centre. Starting at the offices of the Area-Based Management, Inthuthuko Junction, students visit the Cato Manor Heritage Centre,and thentake atour of the area conducted by a local resident, allowing for stops at key developments nodes along the way. This year students visited Cato Crest, a large informal settlement, stopped off atthe recently built Library, and later at the Umkhumbane Entrepreneurial Support Centre which assists in the development and incubation of small manufacturing enterprises. Analysis by a planner from the School of Architecture and Planning concluded the tour.

South Durban
Students also took a 'Toxic tour of south Durban'. Situated close to the airport South Durban is home to 285,000 people. Surrounded by industryandthe refinery, residents pay the price of living there with an increasing number of environmental incidents and illness, as well as high unemployment. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance operates this informative tour of the area.

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