Open Days 12th and 13th October Mulligatawny Farm
This is a triple whammy – spend a wonderful day out in the country with family and friends; experience the spaces and landscaping of a stunning 16+ hectare garden AND support a really worthwhile community cause. And you can maybe even buy some special plants for your own garden too. Mail info@turningpointfoundation.
Two years ago I wrote about the extraordinary gardens at Mulligatawny out in the Cradle of Humankind with their famous waterlilies, kitchen garden, huge numbers of roses, irises and orchids, and fields of flowers on the Skeerpoort River bank. So no point repeating this here. The gardens will once again be opened to the public on the weekend of the 12th and 13th October. The tickets are R200 each, with a reduced rate for groups of four or more. Children and students are R100. So who benefits from this entrance fee?
St George’s Turning Point: from home to foundation
As we all know education, poverty and job creation are 3 interlinked scourges of our country. About 15 years ago the Anglican churches of St George’s in Parktown, along with St Michael’s in Bryanston, started connecting with a group of boys who lived on the street. It became apparent that these young boys wanted to return to school. This of course meant they had to come off the streets and be housed in a safe place. And so St George’s Turning Point Home was founded. Initially the home comprised part of a rented house in Berea, but the surroundings there were not conducive to a radical change in lifestyle for the boys. So in 2004 with funds from an anonymous donor, a house was bought in Brixton. The boys were overseen by a house mother and went to nearby schools.
While in a safe and contained environment (in terms of the discipline of a school context, the security of communal living as well as an adult keeping an eye of the boys), things went well and many matriculated. But once the boys moved out and had to fend for themselves without any social capital, family support structure or ongoing mentoring, life was too precarious and challenging and many reverted to old familiar patterns of behaviour.
For many reasons, it became apparent that the home in Brixton could not continue viably and that what was needed was a way of transitioning young people from the school context to the world of work. However it was felt that this was such a major challenge that it needed to be addressed by government and large donor organizations. So instead the St George’s Turning Point Foundation was established with the aim of assisting young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to acquire the skills that will make them employable. Specifically, the Foundation concentrates on providing small stipends to those studying for a skill or interning, and who do not have the resources to fund transport and/or food costs. Currently St George’s Foundation provides financial help to students at Sparrow FET College and St Anthony’s Educational Centre. Both provide vocational skills training linked to industry needs.
So albeit a tiny drop in the huge raging ocean, the entry fees to Mulligatawny go towards the very worthwhile and interlinked causes of educational upliftment; poverty alleviation; and job creation.
And I started with a quote from one favourite author so will end with another. From Alice Sebold of The Lovely Bones fame: “A garden is where I lose myself when I want to find myself”.