Permaculture attracts volunteers from Swaziland and abroad. Volunteering brings with it many challenges, like living without a salary, sometimes in a strange, new environment with differing cultural practices and unfamiliar food. But these challenges pose an adventure that allows you to venture out of your comfort zone and discover who you really are while learning new skills.
In exchange for their time and labour, volunteers from Swaziland and other countries have been learning permaculture at Guba since it started in 2009. Guba is a training NGO based in Malkerns that teaches permaculture to community members in Lobamba Lomdzala. Permaculture has gone beyond its roots in looking at strategies to create sustainable food growing methods to become a worldwide movement including all aspects of how we, as human beings, can live harmoniously in relation to our Earth and its’ finite resources.
Butimba Bhembe is from Mahlanya, and decided to volunteer at Guba because he realised it would provide him with the skills to grow his own food at his homestead and eat healthier meals. The skills he learnt have also opened up future employment possibilities. Bhembe says, “I realised that volunteering was like a trade – work for an education and a free course in permaculture.”
Adam Rogerson is from England, and volunteered at Guba to learn more about permaculture. “I realised that we create our own wealth in life, and that through permaculture, I could create a home and a garden that takes care of me and provides much of what I need in life.” Rogerson adds that he also discovered that permaculture is more than growing food – “I learnt the importance of planning and being a part of a positive community.” Rogerson now lives in Mahlanya and hopes to pass on his permaculture skills to his community and make a living from them too.
Taylor Kiker and Jenny Boyd, a couple from the United States, also came to Guba to expand their knowledge of permaculture as they feel it can provide them with the skills they need to make a sustainable and rewarding living. They maintain that while working without a salary can be difficult, volunteering has many advantages. They enjoy the freedom to take their time and ask questions, making sure they learn everything they can with the aim of starting up their own permaculture farm when they return to the US.
All the volunteers interviewed agree that permaculture provides a wide variety of tools useful for a self-sufficient lifestyle that helps see you through difficult times and create wealth with very little investment.
Guba’s Strategic Director, Emma Granville, explains: “Volunteering offers an entry point into local communities and access to people volunteers may not meet and get to know if they were simply travelling through Swaziland. To be successful, volunteering needs to be a mutual exchange – a positive experience for volunteers, the organization and the people they work with.”
Ryan Marchese (Volunteer) and Emma Granville (Strategic Director, Guba)