FIRST lady MaKhumalo Zuma has challenged women to make use of available land by planting vegetables to support their families and fight hunger.
MaKhumalo was speaking in Matimatolo, outside Greytown, during the official handing over of a house worth more than R100000 to the orphaned Nxumalo family.
The house had been built with the help of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Independent Development Trust (IDT) and Stedone, a private company.
A soft-spoken and shy MaKhumalo said she did not buy from shops because she made use of the land by ploughing it.
"Women must stand up and stop being lazy," MaKhumalo said. "They must make use of any piece of land that is available to plough.
"At home I don't buy vegetables because I have a garden that I plough and I call on other women to do the same."
MaKhumulo also called on the youth, especially girls, to value education.
"Young children must go to school and not rush to become mothers," she said. "Education should come first and the rest will follow."
The house beneficiary, Sibongile Nxumalo, was orphaned when her mother died in 2003 and her father followed three years later.
The situation was so bad that she went to live with her unemployed aunt Jabu Nxumalo.
As if Sibongile had not suffered enough her aunt became gravely ill and stayed at home.
"Things became worse for me. Though my aunt had no permanent job, she was doing odd jobs to feed and clothe me.
"When she became ill I looked for temporary jobs, but was unlucky," Sibongile said.
She said while she was in matric in 2007 she heard about the Jacob Zuma Foundation and decided to approach them. This happened during the same year she failed Grade 12. In an emotional letter she described her plight in detail and asked for help.
The letter was so emotional that it touched foundation patron President Jacob Zuma, who initiated steps for the foundation to do something. Stedone built the house and IDT provided their staff as volunteers and bought furniture worth R15000.
IDT board chairperson Pumla Hadebe said the family could not have been assisted had private and public institutions not come together.
"We can do a lot if we work together," Hadebe said. "The fight against poverty can only be won if we work together as various stakeholders.
"We might have inherited poverty from the past but future generations should not feel its wrath," she said. "They must grow up in a better future."