I do what really makes me happy
He says, that he was just a normal child like any other child, but in Grade 12 something unexpected happened between two groups of youngsters and he ended up to spend a month in prison and got parole for 3 years. Ludwe wanted to stand up and do something but his criminal record was always in his way to get a “proper” job.
Ludwe used to line up among a whole lot of others at Shawco to get bread and soup for free. There he met a guy who worked in the Shawco-garden. That was actually how it all started. Then Xolisa, a friend who lived in Site C in Khayelitsha, told him about Abalimi and took him to the Abalimi Nyanga Garden Centre.
“At the Garden Centre Mama Bokolo shared her story with me and inspired me. I volunteered there more than two years. There are often tensions between old and young people, but Mama Bokolo gave me her trust. I felt like home at her garden and she became like a grandma for me”, Ludwe explains.
While he was volunteering he already got small tips from the customers for his help (like one or two Rand), but at that time he just liked to play with the soil and get food for himself. “But helping the community also polished me”, he says, “and the people in the community inspired me – they say I have green fingers!” After his parole was done he moved to Khayelitsha.
He had already helped friends and community members to build their home gardens as he had no own space for a garden. Seeing his potential Mama Bokolo and Rob Small offered him a free 4-day-basic-gardening-course. But he tells us that in his heart he is more a vendor than a farmer. He buys the resources from the Garden Centre and sells it to the home gardeners. They do not have to travel and he makes a profit with the surplus for his home delivery service.
“I love what I am doing. Actually I make food, when I help the people to grow their vegetables. That really makes me happy!” Ludwe says. “The Abalimi people were very supportive, especially Mama Ria, who bought me my first bicycle. I started by walking around with the crates and selling, but now with my new post-bike I am saving time and money for transport and can reach more customers in Khayelitsha per trip.”
People in Khayelitsha start to recognize the seedling-vendor with his red post-bike and he is approached by many youngsters now because of his clever business-model. And when he has leftovers he just plants the seedlings in his apprenticeship garden and grows his own food, as he is now a member of the new Abalimi apprenticeship program.