Programs & Projects

BONGINKOSI Self-help Project

Bonginkosi, which means “Thank the Lord” in isiZulu, is an AE community transformation self-help project that empowers community members in Sweetwaters (a township on the north-western outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) with skills towards economic development by training them in such arts as candle-making, knitting woolen blankets and weaving house mats – all from raw materials. The project is dynamic changing focus regularly in attempting to uplift the community as their need dictates. Advancing food security is a current goal as the community is increasingly burdened by the escalating cost of living and AE will be assisting with training the community to establish home veg gardens.

The project was originally called the Bonnkosi Child Enrichment and Feeding Scheme and was run as a soup kitchen by AE. It was started in 1972 at Nichols Primary School in Edendale (a township south-west of Pietermaritzburg) in response to the sad and stark reality of the extent of starvation amongst the school children when the school’s headmistress of the time, Ms Daphne Tshabalala, witnessed, to her horror, one of the learners scrambling to gather up the bread crumbs she had thrown to a dog to eat. AE, through team member Barbara Davies, partnered with Ms Tshabala to start the soup kitchen. The feeding scheme kept growing year after year. By 1978 the project was feeding over 1000 children per day and by 1990 the Bonginkosi feeding scheme was providing 10,500 children a day, in 51 schools throughout South Africa, with a cup of protein-enriched soup and a thick slice of bread. This ministry extended to provide health care, blankets and clothes, skills development, and the proclamation of the Gospel at every opportunity. Sadly, as a result of political violence which was particularly rife in Edendale, the project had to be abandoned as access into Edendale became far too risky.

The Bonginkosi project then changed direction, both literally and figuratively, as AE discovered that access to the township of Sweetwaters (north-west of Pietermaritzburg) was a little easier because security forces on patrol, and the community itself, were more tolerant of, and receptive to, ‘outsiders’ who were willing to help the community. Carol Cassidy, Sarah Dot and few partners used a local church from which they sought to empower ladies from the community through a self-help project, first teaching them how to make candles and sew, whilst also teaching them how to read because many of the women on the project could not read or write. Over the years the project has been doing different things to uplift the community. The project was initially supported by the Church of Ascension in Hilton, with whom AE recently partnered to minister the gospel during a social action outreach initiative. Currently the program is supported on an ad hoc basis by businesses, churches and a private donor.

We have really seen Christ’s love demonstrated during the social action programs. 

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

Ithembalomntwana Pre-school is AE’s early childhood development community transformation project in the community of Edendale (a township in the western outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). Ithembalomntwana means “Hope for the child”. 

The project provides basic education for children from an indigent community – one class per Grade of RRR, RR, and R (averaging 30 learners per Grade). The pre-school is administered under the competent leadership and guidance of a passionate husband and wife team, Mr. and Mrs. Nathi Chonco, together with the dedicated and compassionate service of its three resident Educators. As a benefactor and partner AE also sponsors the cost of an educator to provide English literacy lessons twice a week; and to minister to them through the reading of Bible. Apart from educative care with which learners are provided, the school also ensures that these young children enjoy the nourishment of two meals per day (breakfast and lunch).

The Management Body and parents of the school are very grateful for the support received from AE.

At the main event – the Graduation Ceremony – Grade R learners are presented with their certificates by a representative from African Enterprise, and then sashed!

We are so proud of all the amazing work that is being accomplished by the learners, educators and administrators at Ithembalomntwana Pre-school and pray God’s continued blessings upon them for even greater success in the years to come. Please keep them all in prayer as we make every attempt to equip them with a firm foundation, both in education and in faith, that will serve them well as they grow and mature, physically and spiritually.


NgezandlaZethu, which is isiZulu for “with our hands’, is an AE social action sewing project which operates in Edendale, a township on the western outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The project was started when Mrs Ntombifikile Dladla, a retired teacher, approached African Enterprise with the idea of teaching sewing skills to those unemployed mothers who were dropping their children off daily at the Ithembalomntwana Preschool (AE’s child empowerment social action project for pre-primary school learners). AE then canvassed the idea with local community leadership, including the Department of Education, to source premises for the hosting of classes. AE secured funding for the purchase of sewing machines, material and consumables through the generosity of donors affiliated to AE’s support office in Australia. Mrs Dladla was appointed as the Project Administrator and she remains passionate and dedicated to the task of empowering community members with skills for sewing and fashion-designing (both male and female – though by its very nature the project is far more attractive to females).

The project commenced in 2018 with but a few enrolments but has since progressed to attract in excess of thirty students annually since 2021. The popularity of the project is a testament to its value to the community.

Students build a collection of their very own fashion-wear over the year, including a bridal collection which they are required to design and sew in the build up towards their graduation. The graduation ceremony for those who complete the training is a formal event at which graduands robe to receive their certificates of achievement.The graduation ceremony is followed by a fashion show at which the students model their collections.

We are proud of all our students who have graduated, many of whom have gone on to open small informal businesses, sewing for family and neighbourhoods as a means of earning a living.

Asanda Khoza was the outstanding student of the Class of 2020. Her obvious talent was acknowledged by the Department of Arts and Culture who awarded her the prize of “Best Young Fashion Designer” whilst she was still on the program. After graduating Ayanda has gone on to open her own fashion design business which is called “AC Designs”.

NYAWONHLE Shoe Repair Project

Nyawonhle, which translated means ‘beautiful feet’ is AE’s most recent community transformation program which has been implemented in Copesville (a suburb north-east of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). This program is designed to equip unemployed men with skills in shoe repairs and thus empower them economically with a practical skill to earn a living. Community transformation programs in impoverished communities generally empower females, with little to no empowerment programs for males. Our new project provides us with an opportunity to minister to men ‘through Word and Deed’.


The first intake of students took place in November 2023 when eight men joined the program. Two of them found employment and left in the middle of the course; the remaining six went on to graduate from the 10-day intensive training course.

Food Relief Outreach

AE responds to the general food relief needs of impoverished communities on an ongoing basis but also responds to crisis needs as and when these occur, such as during COVID and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) flood disasters of recent times  in the Durban’s surrounding areas.

At the peak of COVID lockdown level 5, AE South Africa distributed handmade face masks together with food parcels. Whilst some of these masks were made and donated by individuals, a significant number were made by the AESA NgezandlaZethu Sewing Project, Mrs Dladla taking the lead and redirecting the skill and efforts of the students into producing face masks for distribution to the community. In the face of an overwhelming need to provide such protection, AE Australia has partnered with AESA in providing funding for a special project where the students of the sewing project produced and distributed in excess of 3000 face masks.

AESA rallied its troops to map out a way in which to reach out to those communities that are challenged to provide for their basic needs and secured funding towards the purchase of food hampers.

Donation Pack
The most basic needs in these communities were identified to be food; awareness of the corona-virus and the precautions to be taken; and a message of comfort and hope.

The donation packs comprised:

  • a food parcel of staple foods such as maize, rice, soya, baby food, and vegetables (when available);
  • a hygiene pack of home-made face masks, sanitiser, soap, toilet rolls and pamphlet on corona-virus hygiene;
  • Gospel tracts with a message of the lasting hope that we have in Jesus (these include AE’s “Everyone wants answers” tract and gospels of John).

AE also partnered with other ministries in a ‘Heal our Land’ campaign to bring hope to KwaZulu-Natal through prayer, ministry and food relief to those in need; working in particular with almost 20 church groups, ministries and NGO’s within the Umgungundlovu district to distribute over 1000 food hampers in less than two days inclusive of outlying communities in Wartburg, Richmond, Greytown, Mooi River and Impendle.

We also took to the streets in various clean-up operations around the city.

The first consignment of supplies of milk, oil, beans and maize poured in and was enough to feed over 4000 families for two weeks or more in the four KwaZulu-Natal districts of Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Richard’s Bay, and Port Shepstone. 20,000 isiZulu gospels of John, and 2,500 face masks were also received in addition to the food supplies.

African Enterprise joined churches, traditional leaders and ward counsellors in Kwandengezi, a township outside of Hillcrest in Durban, to reach out to communities that fell victim to the flooding and loss of lives and possessions that followed the torrential downpours in April 2022.

Thanda, one of the members of the community whose house was washed away by the flooding, Tearfully, described that there was a lot of wind and thunder and that the water that was coming out from under ground had a strong force. One of the neighbors shouted when she saw that the house was about to collapse and they managed to escape. Thanda said that everything was destroyed, including her furniture; all that she and her family had worked so hard to acquire. She was grateful that AE could help the with food because they were not able to take anything with them when fleeing the house.

The Ward counsellor was equally grateful and happy to see people assisting with food parcels and encouraging people with scripture because he found that he was unable to offer such encouragement, especially to those who lost their loved ones. He was very emotional when AE arrived on the scene to provide help because until then he had been desperately asking for assistance but had not received any; he had to use his own money to assist those who were in need and to house the stranded in the community hall; he was unable to sleep or rest because he was being pressured by the community to get help but none was forthcoming. He cried after giving his account of the situation. AE Team members, Dumisani & Sphamandla prayed with him and he felt relieved thereafter.

The assistant to the Chief of the community also expressed his gratitude for AE’s intervention and ministry to the people during this time of great loss and despair. He said that the Word that was shared during the distribution of the food parcels needed to be heard by the whole community because all of them they need to know that God is with them despite their desperation. He was impressed that AE did not just arrive to hand out food parcels but took time to encourage and pray with the members of the community.

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