Harvesting Hope

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Cummins employees in Africa started gardens for children’s day care centers and senior citizen residences.

Cummins Filtration has a small workforce of a few dozen people in Kenya and South Africa, but that didn’t stop the business from reaching out to help others in a big way.

The business unit’s Community Involvement Team (CIT) tackled an ambitious garden project that touched five institutions in three communities and two countries. The project was one of 15 winners in Cummins’ 2011 Environmental Challenge and received special recognition as the Best New Entry.

Led by Human Resources Manager Ashie Singh, the CIT worked with community partners in Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya to establish vegetable gardens at five children’s daycare and senior living facilities.

Cummins employees worked alongside the beneficiaries of the gardens to plant the vegetables, erect fences and set up storm water collection systems to ensure the gardens could be watered during dry periods. Those systems are critical because water is frequently a scarce and expensive resource in Africa.

Singh says getting employees involved at all levels of the Company early on was critical. It didn’t take long for everyone to feel they had some ownership of the project.

The produce from each garden is helping to feed children and the elderly. As an additional benefit, any surplus produce is sold to generate income for the partner institutions.

Working with the children was particularly satisfying for Singh.

“Working with children is very exciting and fulfilling,” she said. “When we teach good habits at an early age, we contribute to societies that are healthy and environmentally friendly.

“The vegetable gardens promote healthy and balanced diets and in many instances these day care centers can barely afford a balanced and nutritious diet,” she added. “They would usually feed the children maize meal and canned beans or fish and often provide butternut. Seldom are green vegetables included, both because of availability and cost.”

The centers benefiting from the gardens are grateful for the help.

“Particularly the spinach grows and grows,” reported an official with Hotel Hope, a center for children in Johannesburg. “It is truly an investment that keeps on growing. Thank you so much for being a part of the Hotel Hope family.”

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