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 2004.
In 2006, the full 10-month training programme in horticulture was introduced, incorporating AgriSETA-accredited modules. Over time, services were extended to other at-risk groups, particularly unemployed youth and people with disabilities, and training in life skills and entrepreneurial skills development was incorporated.
To date, 485 students have graduated from our programme, with 125 enrolled in 2017.
Almost all our facilitators are graduates of the Programme. We continue to identify those who excel with a view to taking them on as trainees, continuing to invest in their development, and promoting them in due course to full-time positions as Training Facilitators.
Our focus areas are:
Provide sentenced offenders and people at risk with a practical education programme and credible qualifications in agriculture, horticulture, landscaping, entrepreneurial and life skills, in order that they may work themselves out of poverty;
2. Rehabilitation & Job Creation
Assist sentenced offenders and people at risk with employment opportunities. Development of life skills, including patience, commitment and responsibility. Build bridges and aid in the re-acceptance of sentenced offenders back into the community;
Establish tree and flower nurseries within the correctional centres and outside areas. Donate trees, flowers and vegetables to organisations serving vulnerable people and participate in greening projects.
The choice of horticulture as a vehicle for prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration is significant in a number of respects:
Horticulture is a powerful tool for personal healing and transformation; it does not merely teach “life skills”, it develops emotional intelligence – it teaches patience and perseverance, encourages cooperation with others, restores hope and dignity, and instils a sense of purpose;
Horticulture has been identified as a scarce skill in South Africa (in the agricultural sector), while the private landscaping sector is thriving. As a result, there are many opportunities for employment and enterprise development in the sector; the training enables students to step out of survival mode into quality employment and enterprise development;
Through the production of food and its donation to vulnerable community members, a contribution is made to poverty alleviation; in the process, students acquire another invaluable life skill: they learn to be generous. They also experience the deep fulfillment that comes with giving, rather than taking, supporting the principles of restorative justice in efforts to reintegrate back into their communities.
Through the training in horticulture, students are equipped with skills to make an important contribution to the greening of their communities and the city.