Wendy Tsotetsi

Founder: Youth Agricultural Ambassadors

Growing up in Ncise, Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape without brothers, Youth Agricultural Ambassadors (YAA) founder Wendy Tsotetsi had to figure out livestock herding and food gardening for herself. Today, as she plans to extend the success of her Gauteng- based organisation to her home province, these skills stand her in good stead. "There are quite a few challenges associated with establishing [sustainable] food gardens in the Eastern Cape, but there is a great need, because the youth are aimless and, as a result, turn to drugs,� she says. "People are not aware that through the extended public works programme they can actually start agriculture programmes and pay other volunteers stipends. So far, I have identified three schools that we can work with to build gardens. The aim is to teach then to maintain them so that when they leave they can teach other young people to do it.� YAA was started in 2008 after Tsotetsi quit her job as a paralegal and began teaching agriculture and leadership skills to grade fives and sixes at the Chief Bhambatha Primary School. Under the YAA banner she has facilitated over 30 food projects in Evaton and encourages the managers of each project to ensure that each is registered as a legal entity. She has also lobbied for the improvement of school-based feeding schemes, which she found to be grossly lacking in nutrition. Tsotetsi is an all-round educator, whose message of sustainable agriculture, environmental responsibility and climate change go hand in hand with issues of gender equality and HIV/ Aids awareness. She also works tirelessly to promote social cohesion. Each project, once up and running, is encouraged to donate some of its produce to school feeding schemes and the needy. When not travelling the world to demystify climate change Tsotetsi focuses on her next big project, which is a solar geyser installation company she is starting with four partners. � Kwanele Sosibo