I was excited by my visit to Orange Farm in South Africa. This was an opportunity to realize my dream of seeing in person a community paralegal project that could generate its own income. I have worked in the development sector a long time and know that dependence on grants from donors is a constant source of worry for most paralegal projects – the funds are small, inconsistent and require a lot of work to access.
Orange Farm is not your typical farm. It is a community project that includes a pre-school, a garbage-recycling center, a farm, a welding project, and a paralegal advice center. It is headed by one Mr. Bricks, as he is widely known. He is also the chair of the Association of Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA) in Gauteng. He is a very down-to-earth gentleman who, if you came on an ordinary day, you would have thought to be one of the workers in the compound – most of the time he wears his welding overalls and blends in with the rest of his employees.
Mr. Bricks was more than happy to accommodate my visit and answer my questions. The farm, he told me, was started as early as 1987. The land was previously an unofficial dumping site. No one laid claim to it. Mr. Bricks decided to mobilize the community to secure the land for the establishment of income-generating projects that would reduce the level of unemployment in the area. They fenced the land and went to apply for the title deed.
The community was able to pressure the city council until the mayor granted them the deed and constructed a temporary community building. It began with one hall, then the farm, then the school and the garbage-recycling project. Now the project employs over 15 youths and women. Among them are the paralegals who, since 1994, have been advising the community on legal issues such as labor rights and migrant issues, as well as educating the community on the proposed changes to the South African constitution prior to the 1996 referendum.
So how does the community paralegal advice center benefit from the project? Mr. Bricks explained: “After assisting our clients and they offer to pay us, we ask them to give us their waste products – like plastics and glass – instead. And that’s what we use to make the money in return.” Imagine giving out rubbish as payment for services.
The community is also encouraged to continue using the place as a dumping site. The waste is later sorted into different categories for processing. The glass bottles are crushed and packed separately, the cans are sorted on the basis of materials, and the plastics are sorted in terms of color, their numbers, and quality for easy processing. The after products are later supplied to processing companies based on their needs – and the market is big. In addition to generating revenue for the paralegal center, the recycling project helps reduce the pollution of the environment.
Mr. Bricks says that 25% of the income from the recycling and other projects on the farm are used to finance the advice center’s operation costs. I asked if the project could comfortably run without donor funding, and the response: “Mustafa, during our conversation, have I mentioned or complained about funding?” It was true, during the entire visit Mr. Bricks had not complained about a shortage of funding. I can say from my experience that this is uncommon. Other paralegal centers, ones that depended on donor or government funding, regularly voice their funding distress.
What is more, on Orange Farm, the paralegals themselves work on the other projects so they have a source of income. “You have to make your paralegals masters in everything; equip them with other skills for their survival,” says Mr. Bricks. He has partnered with the North West University engineering department who train four youths from the farm every year on welding and engineering skills. The paralegals are among them.
The schools and the building the mayor constructed were also designed for free by volunteer students studying architecture and design.
The project is also unique in that it was community initiated and is still owned by the community and run, in trust, by him. During our conversation, Mr. Bricks kept insisting that community ownership is the most sustainable approach for any project. The community has a say in all decisions at Orange Farm, and because of this, he says, it stands by the farm in difficult times.
Before I left the center, Mr. Bricks made me smile one last time – by mocking how we paralegals and paralegal managers like white collar jobs. “Paralegals like dressing in suits and ties and just sit at the desks thinking they have the solutions to everyone’s problems. Let the community take the initiative and you just advise them, and you will see how easy your work will be. You don’t need to do everything for them, they just need you assistance, not your control.” I believe he is right: we all make this mistake occasionally; we believe we are the community, but the community is greater than us.
My trip to Orange Farm was an eye opener. I wish I could say it finally brought closure to my quest for a full understanding of self-sustainability, but unfortunately I find I still have questions. I will continue with my search until I am able to track how a small project that set up a commercial printing press to help finance its activities became the largest non-governmental development organization in the world, as is the case of BRAC. But from the example of Orange Farm and Mr. Bricks, we NGO practitioners can learn that we have a lot of idle, under-utilized resources around us in the form of land and networks, and other opportunities to support our financing and operations. With a little creative thinking and initiative, we can all lessen our dependence on donor funding.
Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Welcome to the namati.org website (the “Site”) and the Legal Empowerment Network Forum (the “Forum”) operated by Namati, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Namati”, “we”, “us” or “our”). We share your concern about the protection of your personal information online.
This Policy describes our privacy practices and sets out your obligations and ours with respect to your use of the Site and the Forum. This Policy applies only to the Site and the Forum and does not necessarily apply to our offline collection of information.
Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
We may, from time to time, store and archive the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum. The information that we gather may include your name, title, and address, telephone number, email address, credit card number or other elements of personal information. In addition, if you contact us, we may keep a record of your correspondence, including any information contained therein.
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Washington, DC 20036, USA
It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal data changes during your relationship with us.
You have the right to:
Request access to your personal data (commonly known as a “data subject access request”). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
Request correction of the personal data that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate data we hold about you corrected, though we may need to verify the accuracy of the new data you provide to us.
Request erasure of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal data where you have successfully exercised your right to object to processing (see below), where we may have processed your information unlawfully or where we are required to erase your personal data to comply with local law. Note, however, that we may not always be able to comply with your request of erasure for specific legal reasons which will be notified to you, if applicable, at the time of your request.
Object to processing of your personal data where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on this ground as you feel it has an impact on your fundamental rights and freedoms. You also have the right to object where we are processing your personal data for direct marketing purposes. In some cases, we may demonstrate that we have compelling legitimate grounds to process your information which override your rights and freedoms.
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Withdraw consent at any time where we are relying on consent to process your personal data. However, this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing carried out before you withdraw your consent. If you withdraw your consent, we may not be able to provide certain products or services to you. We will advise you if this is the case at the time you withdraw your consent.
You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we could refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances.
We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access your personal data (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is a security measure to ensure that personal data is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it. We may also contact you to ask you for further information in relation to your request to speed up our response.
We try to respond to all legitimate requests within one month. Occasionally it could take us longer than a month if your request is particularly complex or you have made a number of requests. In this case, we will notify you and keep you updated.
If you live in an EEA Member State, all of which have adopted the EU GDPR and national , you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application. The European Commission has a list of EU national data protection authorities here:
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority, the ICO, about this policy and its application:
The Policy was updated in July 2022 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.