Gift of the Givers has been involved in bringing water to many rural areas in South Africa and Malawi. Our borehole programme is overseen by Dr Gideon Groenewald - a geologist, hydrologist and paleontologist - with over 35 years experience in managing groundwater.

The general process involves:

  • Visit by community liaison to identify the suitability of the site
  • A desktop study by a geo-hydrologist – identifying potential drilling sites
  • Multiple site visits – to finalise drilling site (based on magnetometer readings) as well as interactions with the community – explaining the process and expectations
  • Drilling, lining and basic construction around the borehole
  • Blow rate and yield testing
  • Water quality tests
  • Pump installation with Eskom or solar
  • Installation of security block, manhole, fencing and tanks
  • Possible installation of filtration system
  • Registration of the Borehole
  • Handover to the community – with talk on water and environmental conservation

When identifying points for new boreholes – the following is taken into consideration:

  • The needs of the community (in relation to other areas). How close or far is the nearest water access point? How many people are sharing this point? Are all households serviced with the current supply that is available?
  • The likelihood of finding water. Based on the hydrological assessment – we have to determine to a reasonable degree of certainty that water is available within the area under focus.
  • The outcome of the community engagement. We expect the community to take collective responsibility for the security and maintenance of the borehole. Before any hydrological assessments begin – our team engages the community – and helps them initiate the borehole committee, with members selected from the community. This committee is responsible for ensuring that the borehole is not vandalised. They also appoint a primary contact to liaise with our team – should there be a need for an expert to go out to perform repairs.
  • Site selection is generally biased towards schools. These provide access control, security and ease of follow up for maintenance and repairs. Depending on the agreement between the school and the department as well as the yield and quality of the water – we may connect the borehole into the school’s system directly so that they have running water in their systems. In this case special permission is obtained from the Department of Education and/or Department of Public Works.

We instigated a Subsistence Farming Project in Malawi in 2005.

We prepare Farm Packs, comprising essential agricultural inputs - seeds, fertilizers and basic tools - for distribution to emergent subsistence farmers in rural areas as a means of assisting them to provide sufficient produce to feed their families.

Many subsistence farmers produce only a single crop a year. In view of this, we encourage Winter cropping, providing seeds in order that these farmers and their families need not rely on hand-outs, especially during lean times.

We operate this very necessary project in partnership with that country's Department of Agriculture, together with a number of local authorities, assisting in the selection, training and monitoring of the beneficiaries. Our Subsistence Farming Project currently supports as many as 2 000 beneficiaries every year.

Given the resounding success of this programme, we were fortunate to receive grant funding from the Embassy of Japan in Malawi in 2016 for the implementation of two irrigation schemes, designed to assist as many as 200 subsistence farmers. These schemes are located in Nankuyu and Sagonja.

The year 2017 saw the Subsistence Farming Project's introduction in South Africa. Recognising that many rural households had access to land and a degree of farming experience, and comprehending the decline in traditional farming here, we opted to re-ignite the concept as a means of encouraging people to remain on the land instead of migrating to urban areas.

The system adopted operates as follows:

  • Certain families in targeted areas have been allocated land for grazing and planting by their Chiefs;
  • We provide a co-ordination role, working with both the Chiefs and people interested in cultivating their land. Many have previous subsistence or even commercial farm experience, but a lack of funds has seen the demise of their subsistence activities;
  • Beneficiaries are determined by the available inputs - seed and fertilizer. Each recipient is obliged to pay a fee to cover the diesel and tractor driver costs. This was necessary for several reasons - most importantly:
  • We strive to ensure people are invested in the project, meaning they will not shirk their responsibilities at the time of weeding and harvesting;
  • We aim to move beyond the provision of hand-outs, a state where things are provided, to encouraging productive and proactive behaviour by beneficiaries of assistance.
  • Where multiple beneficiaries are in close proximity to one another, an obligation exists for them to provide collective assistance with regarding to weeding and harvesting activities.

During the project's first year of operation - treated as a pilot phase - we assisted 156 beneficiaries in terms of planting a little under 200 hectares of maize. Yields would have been significant, but for a shortage of inputs to ensure the correct levels of individual field fertilization.

We have since increased tractor numbers, owning four ourselves and having in place an agreement with a number of local tractor owners, enabling us to draw on their services.

The 2019/2020 season has seen our support for some 700 beneficiaries.

Through the disaster relief work and our expanding food parcel programme - it was noted that persons receiving food relief were still sub-clinically malnourished.

In 2004, Gift of the Givers Foundation developed and piloted a ground nut - soya milk High Energy Protein Supplement called Sibusiso Ready Food Supplement (SRFS).

The aim was to develop a nutritional supplement to meet the dietary challenges of people in disaster situations where there is limited access to clean, safe water, refrigeration and poor hygiene and sanitation practices. Sibusiso Ready Food is indicated in cases of weight loss, muscle wasting, low energy levels, nutritional challenges, weakness and decreased appetite.

Sibusiso Ready Food is included in many of our disaster responses. Additionally, we are working in partnership with several institutions in Malawi providing Sibusiso to severely malnourished patients.

While Sibusiso was specifically designed for the severe cases of malnutrition - we have a number of partnerships in place to provide enriched foods on an ongoing basis in South Africa, Malawi and Yemen.

'Qurbani' means sacrifice... and annually, during the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, Muslims across the world slaughter an animal - a goat, sheep, cow or camel - so reflecting the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as per the instruction from God Almighty.

Traditionally, one third of the meat derived from such sacrifices is presented to the poor.

In line with this, we have - since 2005 - conducted Qurbani at our organisation's branch in Malawi, distributing parcels of meat to thousands of disadvantaged people.

All seven shares yielded by a single cow are sorted and packed at a well-maintained, hygienic facility by a dedicated team of volunteers who conduct the operation with skill and the reverence associated with its significance.

This act has since been adopted in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Mauritania and Mali.

We initiated a Food Parcel Project in October 2002, in the wake of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg.

Whilst participating in this event, we became aware via the Sunday Times, a South African national newspaper, of the tragic deaths - from starvation - of 167 children in the Eastern Cape. We deemed such a situation, in a resource-rich country like South Africa, to be totally unacceptable. Our response to this hunger crisis in this region of South Africa was swift, and involved the immediate delivery of 2 000 food parcels to hunger-stricken families.

It is a sad and tragic reality that it is only when famine strikes, or severe malnutrition manifests itself, that people consider responding to their fellow human beings. Unacceptable that we ignore the suffering of hungry children or adults simply because they are not yet near death.

Mercy and compassion should immediately spur an early intervention, so alleviating the prolonged suffering and eventual death of those in need.

We readily acknowledge that food parcel provision is not a sustainable long-term solution, but a very necessary response to alleviate the suffering being experienced. In the absence of a viable alternative, the provision of a food parcel might well be life-saving. Only those who have experienced extreme hunger would understand that a food parcel is, exponentially, way more than a mere hand-out.

In addition to our Food Parcel Programme, we also provide food parcels to disaster victims.

We maintain a data base of beneficiaries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Somalia, Yemen, Palestine and Syria. On an annual basis, we distribute some 120 000 food parcels across these seven countries. It has also been extended to a number of additional African and Middle Eastern countries in which we work.

Responding to a direct instruction from the Sufi teacher, in Turkey, who first directed Dr Sooliman to establish Gift of the Givers, we initiated a Feeding Scheme at our offices in 1997.

The Sufi teacher's instruction was very clear, saying 'feed hungry people as this is a very blessed and noble act.'

We established the scheme, feeding the hungry who came to us randomly from the streets and, over time, extended this vital service to include 120 needy pre-primary schools.

Since those early days the pattern of our Cooked Meal interventions have changed dramatically.

Cooked meals were identified as a crucial disaster intervention and are, accordingly, routinely operated anywhere from three days to three weeks. In some countries where people simply lack the resources or equipment to cook for themselves - such as in Syria and Yemen - our cooked meal schemes provide a major source of quality nutrition.

A further innovation has been the feeding of certain university students, cooking meals ourselves or providing these needy young people with ingredients for mass cooking.

In the field of health-care, we have adopted the Helen Joseph Hospital in terms of providing a number of patients with cooked meals three times a day. The number of patients accommodated in this project varies on a daily basis.

We also operate mobile kitchens and feeding schemes, which afford us an excellent means to interact with community members at the time of establishing new bases. Whilst people come to collect food, we have the opportunity to engage and interact with them, enabling us to better understanding community needs and, therefore, plan for longer-term interventions.

Recognising the harshness of a South African Winter and the plight of the ultra-vulnerable members of this country's disparate society, we initiated our Winter Warmth project in June 2004.

Our initial programme saw the distribution of some 55 000 blankets around the country, but the enormity of the real need quickly became apparent, leading to the exponential growth of the initiative with distribution now well in excess of 100 000 blankets per Winter season.

Acknowledging just how critical the needs of the under-privileged and historically disadvantaged are, this crucial programme has been radically extended and now goes well beyond blankets to include the distribution of new clothing, new shoes, track-suits and jerseys.

Given that South Africa is not the only country in which harsh Winters take their toll on the vulnerable, we have further grown the initiative to involve other countries in which we work, both in Africa and the Middle East.

We employ a comprehensive, albeit, ad-hoc wheelchair donation programme, providing the means for mobility upon request from schools, hospitals and individuals.

Whether as simple as a broken leg, or as debilitating as paralysis, amputation or a birth defect, we are on hand to assist, in the certain knowledge that with mobility comes an immediately improved quality of life, whilst significantly reducing the load faced by care-givers.

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