The Vuka Institute is aligned to the Eagle Valley Development Initiative (EVDI), one of the most direct answers to the “land question” in post-apartheid South Africa. The age-old divide between “farm owner” and “tenant labourer” does not exist on this 273-hectare farm. Instead, the land at Eagle Valley Farm is shared by those who work it—the Earthrise Trust and the Naledi Village Committee are partners in the creation of a common vision. The EVDI takes its cue from The Earth Charter: it is committed to the goal of “a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.” In service of this ideal, the workshops and retreats of the Vuka Institute are designed to deliver a series of practical and long-term benefits to the residents of the local community.
The Earthrise Mountain Lodge, where workshop and retreat attendees are accommodated, is a community-run facility. All surplus proceeds are earmarked for the benefit of the community. The EVDI has incubated several socially useful community-led enterprises, which include, among others: the art centre, the brickmaking factory, a vegetable producers’ cooperative, a woodwork project, a village bakery, the medicinal plant nursery, the crèche, the women’s football team, and the mountain biking club. At the heart of the EVDI is the flagship agricultural co-operative, which celebrated its first commercial sugar bean harvest in June 2017.
With the inception of a government sponsored community-led “Working for Water Programme”, the employment rate in Naledi and surrounding villages is now close to 100 percent. A volunteer programme is currently open to local and international youth (to learn more, visit the contact page). Plans are also in place to bring solar energy to the valley, and to secure a clean and steady water supply. These investments in energy, water and food sovereignty are matched by an ongoing investment in the human potential of the community. To this end, the Vuka Institute sponsors the participation of community members in all of its workshops and retreats.