“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

The immortal words of Helen Keller have repeatedly prove to be accurate. They will prove true once more as we come together to support a national treasure, the village of Genadendal, in Cape Town. Our mission is simple – to fulfil a dream of rebuilding and maintaining a historic village by aiding it in becoming financially independent and self-sufficient.

A bit of background

Founded in 1738 by the Moravian Missionary Georg Schmidt, Genandendal is steeped in spirituality, boasting original Moravian church houses and the oldest pipe organ in South Africa. A smallpox epidemic brought about by the influx of White farmers was destroying the Khoisan. Moved by what he saw, Schmidt decided to teach the Khoisan community to read and write. Many setbacks should have derailed the residents of Genadendal over the centuries. Yet, it flourished until the end of the 19th century.

Genadendal became a village of many firsts. It was there that the first Teacher’s Training College in South Africa was built. Famous for their hand-crafted items, they were the first to open a Guest House and Chemist and were home to one of the best public libraries in the Cape. Sadly, the light of this small village started dimming with the onset of cheap, mass-produced products. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when the Teacher’s Traning Academy was shut down as the government argued that Coloured people didn’t need tertiary education. Today, the Museum harvests tea from the surrounding Honey Bush, which serves as the village’s primary income source. It is our hope to change that.

The attention of Nelson Mandela

With the abolition of slavery in 1838, Genadendal became a sanctuary and beacon of hope for more than 1,000 freed slaves and a central space for people of colour who fought against discrimination. In his own words, Madiba saw the historical value of the Genadendal community.

"Over the centuries, it became a place associated with the coming together of people from different racial groups... the site of the first permanent Khoi settlement, a place of sanctuary... and a community blessed with a rich tangible and intangible heritage, of vernacular architecture, musical traditions and language and a long tradition of humanitarian efforts and political struggle." 

Nelson Mandela

This acknowledgement of this small community led to the official name change from Westbrook to Genadendal.

Our current mission

The Genadendal village mill, of course, bears extraordinary symbolism. Across the world, bread is symbolic of sustenance, prosperity and a gift from God. Interestingly, in art, bread represents all the elements of life. It requires “grain from the earth, water, air kneaded in, fire to bake,” reinforcing its symbolism of abundance. A market willing to pay a premium for fresh stone-ground bread has been identified.

The mill had ground to a halt for 15 years, with the miller working as a gardener around the mill. Together with Breadline, the Chamber got the millstones going, producing 50kg of natural stone-ground flour for Heritage Day.

We have no doubt that together, the community that constitutes the South African Chamber of Commerce will be able to raise funds needed to have the mill operating daily once more. “We hope to employ the miller and others in the village. The objective is to ensure that once the mill is up and running, it becomes a self-sustaining tourist attraction. Furthermore, we hope to get the stone kiln outside the mill operational. This way, a central source of income is established for the village and its residents,” said Sharon Constançon, Chairman of the South African Chamber of Commerce.

Fundraising alongside Breadline has already begun. We implore you to dig deep to develop another South African Community. As Madiba expressed, it is our responsibility to ensure the “strengthening of the developing partnership among all communities in the spirit of reconciliation and renewal.” Hence, in the spirit of community and preserving an integral part of South African history, we implore you to dig deep and contribute to the re-establishment of the village mill. While Man shall not live by bread alone, the people of Genandendal will thank you for it!

Genadendal bears a beautiful meaning: “Valley of Grace.” All this village needs is the grace to develop and thrive, and collectively, we can fulfil the requirement of much-needed grace.

To help support this restoration, please click the button below to add your bit to the collective effort of the London Marathon Runners’ fundraising efforts, which are already well on their way to reaching their target.

Some of the proceeds will also go to Breadline Africa

If we all give some financial “crumbs” to Breadline, we could fully cover the cost of a hygienic kitchen and toilets that give privacy and respect to the young learners.

Times are not easy, so even a very small contribution will be welcomed by the young learners at The Zanokhanyo Educare Centre.  They Need Your Help this festive season to have the best opportunity in life.

We all know that to succeed later, we need to begin young and get the best start in life.

The SA Chamber of Commerce UK is supporting Breadline Africa this festive season to help raise much-needed funding to ensure that all the young learners can have clean toilets and a hygienic place for their food to be prepared.   

Join the SA Chamber of Commerce UK and help change a child’s life this festive season and contribute to ensure vulnerable children have access to decent sanitation and hygienic kitchen facilities at the Zanokhanyo Educare Centre, in Khayelitsha, Western Cape. Every penny counts to give these young people, the future of our economy, a safe and nurturing environment to grow and learn in. 

Sanitation and hygienic kitchen facilities at the Zanokhanyo Educare Centre

Principal Ntombodidi Barnes established her pre-school in 1995 and was fortunate to receive formal registration from the government for the facility. Over the years, the infrastructure deteriorated in the harsh African weather and, in 2017, the centre was de-registered and the subsidies withdrawn. 

Drawing on all of her resources, Ntombodidi was able to build precast vibracrete classrooms but lacked funding to build a kitchen and to replace the portable chemical plastic potties.

With your valuable contributions, we hope to raise a total of £10 000 to provide the Zanokhanyo Educare Centre with safe private toilets and hygienic kitchen facilities. We are halfway there, help us finish the journey. We will share the photos of the handover event in February.

Unlock a child’s imagination and open up their possibilities. 

Allow them to choose their own future.

Help support childhood development in Southern Africa through early childhood education and infrastructure initiatives.

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