Enthusiasm, creativity and will to help others are how you can describe Tilly Sibya, an intern at Heifer International South Africa’s (Heifer) office in Botha’s Hill, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Tilly, a student studying Entrepreneurial Management Development at the University of Stellenbosch started her adventure with Heifer at the beginning of February 2011. She left her family and friends and moved to KwaZulu Natal (KZN) to get some practical experience as an Entrepreneurial Management Development Programme (EMDP) intern with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAFF). The internship programme is through a partnership between Heifer and DAFF. Tilly will finish her year of experience at Heifer’s office this January 2012.
Heifer International South Africa supports poor rural communities in South Africa in achieving food security and self-reliance by creating small farming businesses. Heifer assists needy communities with training and livestock and enables project members to become small-scale farmers. To change the situation of millions of people suffering with hunger and poverty in South Africa, involving and investing in youth is necessary. Therefore, Heifer’s door is always open for students and volunteers who wish to share their passion to help others and wish to dedicate their time and become an intern or volunteer at Heifer, which is just what Tilly did.
Originally from Limpopo, Tilly joined the KZN team in February 2011 hoping to extend her knowledge about livestock. “When I arrived here my expectations were more focused in livestock, only to find that there are a variety of activities which makes Heifer’s work possible. This was a learning curve. I achieved more than I expected- especially in the area of social/life skills development, establishment of project steering committees, HIV & AIDS awareness, organic farming etc. I have worked with Heifer’s four projects around KZN (Sukuma Farming Project, Wozamoya, Injabulo KaNoah and Sukuma Poultry) and also assisted with and attended a number of workshops and Passing on the Gift® ceremonies.”
During the internship, Tilly worked closely with KwaZulu Natal Programme Coordinator, Sthembiso Gasa, her mentor. She assisted him in conducting trainings on Heifer Cornerstones, livestock management and disease control and conducted research on animal management. She was also responsible for the facilitation of community needs assessment exercises with targeted communities and project evaluation exercises using Heifer’s participatory self review and planning (PSRP) methodology.
When asked about working and mentoring Tilly, Sthembiso Gasa said, “Tilly is performing above expectations. She is a naturally hard worker who is more than willing to work in any aspect of Heifer’s work. I am enjoying working with her.”
With creativity, passion to help others and commitment, she has helped Heifer’s staff in assisting many families. After almost a year at Heifer, Tilly shares some of her new insight, “Agriculture is vital to our daily lives and if we take it seriously, our society will not experience the scarcity of food.”
Describing her experience with Heifer she said, “I would like give special thanks to the Executive Director, Mrs Marisia Geraci, for giving me this opportunity here at Heifer. I hope you will continue extending the same spirit to other interns who will be coming in future. I would whole heartedly recommend your organisation to interns who want to come to KwaZulu Natal. KZN is full of history and rich in beautiful landscapes. I have never felt so immediately welcomed anywhere else I have been. It was amazing to be part of Heifer. I have enjoyed working with you as well as the project members and I also believe that this is only the beginning of a fruitful relationship.”