“Hlumelelisa” is an ancient Nguni word that means “to nurture new growth from a dead shoot”. In modern usage, it refers to the healing of the human spirit, to a process of renewal that gives birth to “a new spirit”. In keeping with our name, the need to heal and renew the spirit inspires everything we do at Hlumelelisa, along with the belief that everyone deserves a second chance.
We provide this second chance to sentenced offenders and youth-at-risk, and we do so through a 10-month, AgriSETA accredited training course in horticulture. We have chosen horticulture as our catalyst for transformation because we know from our own experience, and from a substantial body of scientific evidence, that immersion in nature has the power to heal and renew the human spirit in perpetuity.
On a more practical level, horticultural skills are scarce in South Africa, and there are many opportunities for employment and enterprise development in the public and private sector. The greening of our cities and our public spaces is a priority development area for almost every metro in the country, with Johannesburg in most dire need of a “greening” intervention.
Our “reason for being” is expressed as follows:
Most people who go to prison don't get rehabilitated. When they leave prison, many return to crime as a way to survive and so the cycle of crime is never broken.
Hlumelelisa teaches sentenced offenders how to grow food and plants and themselves, so they can achieve true rehabilitation and have better opportunities to find meaningful employment.
That way, their lives are changed. They don't have to turn back to a life of crime to survive and our communities become greener and safer.
“A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a taste of freedom.
In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the results.”
- Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
Hlumelelisa was established in 2003 in order to mitigate the ever growing crime rate and urban decay in South Africa. Originally, the only aim was to “green” the City by providing horticultural training to sentenced offenders in correctional facilities, but “growing people” and restoring dignity and hope soon became the first priority, and training in horticulture was chosen as the ideal vehicle to bring about this renewal.
The first training site was established at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre, with a group of 15 students participating in a three-month, informal life skills training course. It soon became apparent that a more formal, comprehensive intervention was required to achieve the personal transformation that was the primary aim of the programme. A 10-month training course was developed to address this challenge, and introduced in 2006, incorporating AgriSETA-accredited modules.
Over time, services were extended to other at-risk groups, and training in life skills and entrepreneurial skills development was incorporated.
To date, 914 students have graduated from our programme.
Almost all our facilitators are Hlumelelisa graduates. We continue to identify those who excel with a view to taking them on as trainees, continually investing in their development, and promoting them in due course to full-time Training Facilitators.
Hlumelelisa is an AgriSETA accredited training service provider. Students are selected with the assistance of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) staff. Courses are approximately 10 months in length and include horticulture, permaculture, business and life skills. Courses take place within Correctional Facilities and in communities-at-risk.