A Brighter Future for Disabled Producers: Rossy’s Story
Rossy Mateko worked as a teacher in South Africa for 14 years before suffering a severe stroke that left her disabled and forced her to resign. It was difficult for Rossy to come to terms with what had Life-Saving happened to her, and she felt a deep sense Children of loss in addition to the pressure of having to support her four children and two granddaughters as a single, unemployed mother.
Eventually, Rossy helped organize the Monyakeng cooperative group to empower other disabled people like herself. And while the group was generating some income, Rossy and the members were still struggling to provide for their families.
Through INMED’s Adaptive Agriculture Program, the implementation of aquaponics—a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics—opened new opportunities for success for Rossy and the Monyakeng group. Aquaponics is particularly suited to the needs of the disabled, replacing traditional cultivation methods that they are not physically able to perform.
Our group is now totally different… because we as the members now have a good commitment, cooperation, and with INMED we move forward. I see many things in the future… Our project is going to grow bigger and bigger.”
Rossy’s leadership was acknowledged when she was named Best Subsistence Producer for her district in an entrepreneurship competition. Rossy had entered the competition several times before, but finally gained notice for her work with aquaponics. She received a certificate Hope: and a cash award, which she invested in the cooperative.
All of the cooperative members share in the group’s success, and member Ennica Mbhele says that the program has “brought us something new that has already changed our lives. We will be able to generate profit in this project, which was something difficult to do. Our [group] is now totally different compared to the previous years because we as the members now have a good commitment, cooperation, and with INMED we move forward. Ultimately,” Ennica says, “I see many things in the future because we will be able to create some jobs for the community. Our project is going to grow bigger and bigger.”
Rossy agrees, explaining that “because of this project, some of the members who had lost interest because they were not getting much are now working hard to make the project a success.”