The Board of The Waterberg Trust met this week to review projects being supported in the Waterberg region of South Africa.
One of the Trustees, who had just returned from a visit, was able to report that Sister Grace has been busy looking after people’s health and welfare in schools and the wider community. One of her objectives is to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, which take girls out of school and entrench poverty.
The Knitting Club have been busy producing the most beautiful blankets, hats and shawls, providing comfort for the very young and very old in the Waterberg. Sister Grace distributes these while making home visits when she can check that patients are taking their medication and have enough to eat.
Thanks to our supporters’ kind donations, The Waterberg Trust continues to work in partnership with St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative to help those in need through the pandemic.
Volunteers help purchase and pack food parcels for about fifty individuals within family groups.
These are collected from outside the local super market by friends or relatives of the needy. Local farmers donate food.
Food for the school nutrition project is being supplemented with vegetables grown in school veggie gardens by the Environmental Clubs.
TWT has set up a ‘Dignity Dreams Club’ to raise funds to purchase eco-packs of washable sanitary pads for every girl entering secondary education. This is an important, low-cost initiative that gives girls confidence and means they do not miss lessons. Some were taking absence from school for five days a month.
The pads come with a book for teachers and are distributed with a structured sex-education talk about puberty. TWT is aiming to provide 400 packs a year at a cost of £15 each. The pads are carefully made by Dignity Dreams, a non-profit organization in Pretoria who provide work for the disadvantaged. They last four years. If you would like to help by making a small donation, please click here
‘Our courses are no longer regarded as a luxury but rather as a vitally important component of the education of all our children, with the message that the health of people is intimately connected with the health of the environment.’ Chairman of Lapalala Wilderness School
Clearly, one of the best ways of ensuring future conservation is to educate the young people.
After delays caused by C-19 Lockdown, and floods that washed away the access road, a group of twenty-two teenage students from Meetsetshehla Sceondary School in Valwater were able to attend a week-long environmental course at Lapalala Wilderness School in 2021. TWT hope to send another group from Leseding High School in Vaalwater soon.
The main objectives of the Environmental Education programme are:
To spark an interest and passion for the natural world and the conservation.
To share knowledge relating to local and global environmental issues and sustainable living.
To demonstrate how individuals can have a positive impact on the environment.
To build team spirit and nurture leadership skills.
To cultivate an appreciation and respect for a pristine wilderness environment.
Lapalala Wilderness School can accommodate sixty pupils and two teachers who reside at the Wilderness School for five days, under COVID -19 lockdown regulations
It costs R 400 (£19) per person per day.
For 62 individuals for five days costs R 124,000 (£5,885)
Return transport from Vaalwater costs R10,000 (£475)
This is exceptionally good value. All in all, it costs R 134,000 (£6,360) to host a group, fully inclusive of teaching, equipment, food and accommodation.
If you would like to find out how to sponsor another group of children to attend the Wilderness School, please click here
The Chairman of Lapalala Wilderness School writes:
‘In this, our 35th anniversary year, our supporters will be delighted to know that all of our environmental education programmes are being enthusiastically received, not only by primary and secondary schools but also by university students already specialising in aspects of the conservation and management of biodiversity.’
‘We have influenced teachers from a variety of schools to embrace and acknowledge the critical role of environmental conservation in many facets of our daily lives, and our work to identify and nurture the conservation leaders and champions of the future through our youth development programme has never been more urgently needed.’
‘In all of these activities the Lapalala Wilderness School is most fortunate to be able to call on a talented team of passionate and enthusiastic educators, many of whom are today widely recognised as truly inspiring mentors.’
‘Our citizens must understand and support the need to conserve water catchments, wetlands, and the many species of plants and animals which receive far too little attention, such as the pollinators so essential for food security.’
The children were truly grateful for the opportunity and wrote to thank the director of Lapalala Wilderness School:
The course fits in with the national curriculum. Sister Grace founded an Environmental Club for schools in Vaalwater. Members tend vegetable gardens and have been taken to local game reserves.
Sister Grace revisited existing beneficiaries this September and October, identifying those needing help and support in the Waterberg region.
A total of 50 beneficiaries received food parcels this month. Sister Grace says, “I make sure there’s no overcrowding at the supermarket as per Covid-19 regulations.”
Some beneficiaries send family members or friends to collect food parcels on their behalf.
PROGRESS: Good relationships with stakeholders such as the South African Police, the local Government Clinic and the Department of Social Development, enable members of the community to be referred effectively and receive the help they need. It’s good to receive timely feedback after interventions so progress can be monitored.
Some families received food parcels from political leaders during campaign events. Others were promised employment and short term contracts in areas such as road maintenance. This will ensure many families have an income to provide for their families.
Many learners have access to daily meals at various schools and are occupied with their studies.
Sister Grace says, “As lockdown restrictions have been reduced, many people are back at work.” However, there is still need in the community. She has been using ‘Acts of Mercy’ funds to help a number of teenage orphans who are in school:
Job opportunities are being offered for longer periods.
Some community members were offered free skills development in hairdressing so that they can find employment or run their own hair salons
Teenage girls from surrounding Schools were blessed with disposable sanitary pads donated by Horizon Horseback clients who also gave R500 cash towards Acts of Mercy.
The Waterberg Trust is raising funds to equip all schoolgirls in the Waterberg with sustainable eco-sanitary pads, as you can read here, but these disposables are a welcome stop-gap.
Even the smallest gift will help Sister Grace continue her work helping the needy in the Waterberg. If you would like to make a donation, please click here for contact details. Funds are very carefully spent and are hugely appreciated.
Did you know that the majority of secondary school girls in the Waterberg can miss a week’s education every month? Can you imagine what this means to their future life chances?
The reason? They lack sanitary protection. You can change this. For just £15 a girl will receive 6 re-suable Dignitary Dreams sanitary pads with two pairs of pants that will last them for 5 years. This is an educational game-changer, ending shame and improving self-esteem for vulnerable teenagers.
It’s simple, it makes an immediate difference, and has a lifelong benefit.
Can you help?
The Waterberg Trust aims to provide all girls in secondary schools of the Waterberg with an eco-friendly pack of Dignity Dreams reusable sanitary protection.
Please join the Dignity Dreams Club and commit to an annual donation of £15 (or more) in order to provide a girl with sanitary protection.
Students are given a talk on puberty and how to use the pads before they are distributed. It is a good opportunity for them to ask questions and learn how to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
The NGO Dignity Dreams issue a book for teachers to use, helping them to give engaging talks on puberty and the female reproductive system in line with the curriculum. There is also an instruction leaflet in in pack.
There are six pads in each pack, designed for washing with Sunlight soap in cold water, rinsed in salty water and dried in hot sun. They are made by outworkers for Dignity Dreams, which is a not-for-profit employment scheme running in Pretoria. In effect, you’d be supporting two charities at once.
The girls like the design of the pink and green stripped underpants that come in the packs. One pad is equivalent to 144 disposable pads. They say they are both helpful and durable.
The Waterberg Trust first distributed Dignity Dreams pads in January 2019 thanks to sponsorship from TWT donors and Environmental Impact Management Services who kindly brought a speaker up from Pretoria. You can read about how we equipped 210 girls here.
Secondary schools in the Waterberg have an annual intake of 460 girls. This year, we have managed to equip 145 girls entering one of the schools. We need another 315 packs as soon as possible. If you could help with a few it would be hugely appreciated. The girls and their parents are truly grateful.
The total number of girls in the secondary schools of the Waterberg is 948. To help them all we need to purchase another 593 pads. At a cost of £15 for a pack (+courier charges) our aim is to raise £8,895 for this project.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust writes to say that Sister Grace continues to be a steadying influence in the community and at the school in these uncertain times. Here is her lastest school report:
SCHOOL REPORT FROM JULY – SEPTEMBER 2021
DUTIES: Grade 12 students wrote their trial examinations prior to their final Matric examinations which will start in October 2021. These helped educators to assess and prepare students for final exams. Examination centres were visited by officials from the Department of Education and centre numbers were provided.
These grade 12 students attend school on daily basis, including weekends, to ensure they are well prepared. Meals are provided for learners as many come to school without eating or from disadvantaged families.
I offered pre-examination counselling, encouraged and motivated them to study and work hard so they can pass their final exams. Some were exhausted as they have to stay at school for the whole day. Others pupils continued to attend school on a weekly rotational schedule.
Learners with challenges received regular counselling and support throughout the term i.e. those with mental illness, pregnant learners in their third trimester and those with psychological issues.
Some of the challenges faced by learners:
Some are writing while pregnant and might miss out exams as they will be on maternity leave. Two pregnant teenage moms are at home awaiting delivery.
Poor sanitation. Mobile toilets are substituted though there are not enough to accommodate all.
Over-age learners can cause trouble and are bad influence to those who want to learn. These students smoke on school premises, abscond classes after eating and do not submit their assignments and projects.
PROGRESS: Some dedicated teachers give their time to help learners during their free period
Meetshetshehla High School received donation of 300 new desks to replace the old ones to ensure leaners sit comfortably in classes.
Teachers attended workshop about preparation of exams and invigilation.
I attended a Leadership Collaboration Training Programme in the Waterberg District Community aimed at uplifting the Waterberg District, and showing how the private sector can work with the Government on various projects.
Representatives from various sectors attended i.e. the surrounding lodges, municipal workers, Schools and Private Intuitions.
The Hanns Seidel Stiftung funded the training, which is accredited. Participants will receive certificates.
MEETINGS: I attended meetings with the South African Police Victim Support Department (SAPS) and discussed how they can locate those selling illegal drugs, which is destroying the youth and leads to Gender Based Violence.
The Social Development and the local Government Clinic.
The officials from the Department of Education District office visited and interviewed me about bullying in schools and other challenges that I encounter amongst learners from surrounding schools. We agreed that if there’s any suggestion of school challenges that I should email them for attention.
STATISTICS: TOTAL NUMBER CONSULTED INDIVIDUALLY IS 151 (HIGH SCHOOLS ONLY)
PREGNANT – 5 (3 Meetsetshehla & 2 Leseding High School)
Nursing Sister Grace writes, “I worked with the Social Development team, making home visits and registering those in need of social support, while helping those who are eligible to apply for the Social Relief Distress Grant (SRD). Many people were successfully registered and will be able to receive the grant as planned by the Government. Foreign nationals who have valid identification passports were also registered. During the registration process the Department of Social Development handed out food parcels to identified families and those with passports. Political leaders also distributed clothes, blankets and sanitary pads to the community.”
I REFERRED 25 UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE TO REGISTER FOR A SOCIAL RELIEF GRANT WHICH WAS SUCCESSFUL AND 15 WILL RECEIVE MONTHLY FOOD PARCELS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
SCHOOL CHILDREN CONTINUE TO ACCESS DAILY MEALS FROM THE SCHOOL FEEDING SCHEMES
“Employment opportunities were created in our municipality. Members of the community, including youth, were hired by the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) to work in different allocated sectors. This helps many families receive an income. More informal traders are selling farm produce and other items. Some families have vegetable gardens on their premises, which help to generate income and supplement meals.”
Essential supplies and costs have increased, which leads to many families running out of food before the month end.
Dysfunctional families don’t buy food for their dependents in spite of having an income.
An elderly man, the uncle of a mentally ill beneficiary who is under our monthly care and support, was physically beaten and injured by his son. The matter was reported to the local police for further investigation.
Alcohol consumption is a huge problem. Some people buy alcohol rather than food.
Increase in teenage pregnancy
FOOD PARCELS WERE DISTRIBUTED TO 58 INDIVIDUALS IDENTIFIED AS NEEDY
BENEFICIARIES PACK THEIR OWN FOOD PARCELS. THOSE WHO CAN’T REACH THE SUPERMARKET HAVE THEIRS DELIVERED BY VOLUNTEERS
We continue to knit blankets, jerseys and shawls, which are distributed to those in need. A big thank you to the dedicated ladies who do the knitting. Wool is purchased with money kindly donated by supporters.
Sister Grace says, “I reached out to the community and encouraged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The number of those receiving the vaccine has been amazing for both adults and youth. The local clinic keeps me posted on the availability of vaccines. I stress the importance of taking treatment for chronic conditions, as prescribed and educate family members on health, basic hygiene and access to contraceptives for teenagers.”
Donations, however modest, are hugely appreciated. Funds are spent very carefully. If you would like to help support the poor in the Waterberg, please click here
Sister Grace reports, ‘It has been a challenging time.’ Tighter Lockdown regulations were imposed on South Africa in June 2021 to reduce the risk of Corvid 19 spreading, however the vulnerable and terminally ill continue to need special care and support.
You can watch President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on 15th June 221 here:
CHALLENGES encountered in Vaalwater in July 2021:
Our Community has seen an increase in substance and drug addiction amongst the youth. Boys below the age of 20 have been found injecting drugs using the same syringe and needles. They looked violent. (The Police were informed and are currently monitoring the situation)
Increase in community theft has been reported
Some children have never been to school and keep wandering around, begging money.
Essential food supplies prices went up in July due to violent attacks in some parts of South Africa, which resulted in stock shortages.
Some beneficiaries have become dependent on receiving food parcels and do not want to work nor do piece jobs to earn income
Gender based violence occurs in some families due to lack of income and employment
Orphaned children lack parental care and support
Social gatherings and alcohol sales continue without adhering to Corvid 19 protocols
Sister Grace has been able to visit the needy and supply relevant needs.
Some members of the community have been offered short-termemployment within the town and surrounding lodges
School children are back at school and able to access meals from the feeding scheme program
The Social Relief Grant has been extended to help the unemployed to provide for their families
The Department of Social Development continues to provide food parcels to those registered in their system.
The Waterberg Trust aims to fill the gap by helping vulnerable people without papers who Social Services can not help.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that, ‘Substance abuse is becoming a serious problem. We will have to work on a local solution, but that is easier said than done!’
There are many different ways in which you could help or become involved. If you would like to find out how you can make a donation to The Waterberg Trust, please click here
We will continue to provide food parcels and donated items to those in need, conducting routine assessments, home visits and health education.
Sister Grace works with the local clinic, the South African Police, Social Development, local churches and community leaders to ensure TWT is well informed and the needy can access support.
We are cycling again for The Waterberg Trust in late October 2021.
For this year’s ride we’ve decided to branch out and try something new: a glorious escapade along the beautiful country lanes of North Norfolk.
With careful planning, we have something for everyone. All road routes – an 82-miler, a new 47-miler Classic, and for those of us like Barry itching to get off the beaten tarmac, a stunning cross-country alternative final leg to complete the 82-miler Epic Route.
All routes start from Kings Lynn station for easy access for those coming from London, Cambridge or Norfolk. From there, the route follows inland from the coast, taking in such wonderful sights as Castle Rising, the parklands of Sandringham, trés chic Burnham Market, The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe, and the grand avenues of Holkham, historic Walsingham before reaching Langham for some famous Burles hospitality for lunch. This is where the shorter Classic route ends.
For the keener cyclist, we head on through Holt and on to the expansive estate of Felbrigg Hall, past Cromer Hall, and down to the seaside town of Cromer for ice cream or crab sandwiches by the famous pier. For the final leg we follow unpaved tracks across the wooded cliff tops to reach Sheringham, up through Sheringham Park, re-joining the road by the North Norfolk steam railway at Weybourne Station and the final leg along back lanes to Langham. Alternatively, road-only cyclists can return to Langham via the coast road or the same route they came. All routes end at Meadow Cottage, Langham for the Riders’ and Supporters’ After Party.🥂🎈🥳
Please commit to the date and start training. And why not persuade your family and friends to come too, or organize a team? We’re hoping to exceed last year’s amazing fund-raising total of over £9,000, so the more the merrier. We can help with returning you and your bike back to the station or stay over in North Norfolk.
If you would like to join us, please contact us via the comments below.
THANK YOU for helping to fund The Waterberg Trust and the projects we support.
Since the pandemic broke out, TWT has continued to employ a school nurse. Sister Grace oversees the delivery food parcels for needy families and ensures school attendance, carefully using funds to provide shoes and uniforms for those in extremis, along with Dignity Dreams washable sanitary pads for teenage girls. As well as offering medical help and advice, she instructs pupils tending their school vegetable garden, which was established with the help of EIMS, TWT’s corporate donor in South Africa.
This April, TWT enabled over 40 schoolchildren to attend a four-day environmental course where they learnt about indigenous plants and animals of the Waterberg. They gained an understanding of ecology and sense of stewardship, which is the most powerful form of conservation.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust writes to say, “Grace’s support is more needed than ever.” This last term ended a week early. “You will see that there are many social and medical problems in this crazy time.”
SCHOOL REPORT FROM MAY – JUNE 2021
Schools reopened with all Corvid measures and protocols followed, but was interrupted for a week due to demonstrations by members of the community.
450 – 500 pupils are screened on daily basis Monday – Friday before entry into school premises. They attend school in a phased schedule of weekly rotation except for grade 12s who attend on daily basis to prepare for final exams.
Classrooms are sanitized regularly and learners are encouraged to observe social distance, regularly wash hands and to always wear masks when on school premises and when going home.
Feeding schemes continue to provide balance meals to learners on Monday – Friday to ensure they have eaten and be able to concentrate in class
Schools will re-open on 19th July 2021
Pressure of work for teachers has increased as they have to attend too many classes of the same grade due to reduced number of learners per class.
There is a shortage of teachers to meet the demands of reduced classes.
Five teachers from two primary Schools tested positive for Corvid and were allowed to stay home for quarantine.
Change of staff members affects learner performance as it takes time for them to get used to the changes.
Some learners are having difficulties coping. They are not attending school on daily basis and forget what has been taught to them.
Some learners have dropped out with no proper reason and are just staying at home.
Cyber bullying was noticed among learners. This has been stopped.
Undisciplined learners who want to interrupt classes and are found sitting outside without attending classes nor submitting assignments. (Parents were called to come for disciplinary hearing of such children.)
Learners don’t want wear masks within the school premises and are reminded regularly about the risks and preventive measures of the Corvid-19 pandemic.
The schools were forced to close a week earlier due to rising numbers of Corvid infection within the Waterberg district and Vaalwater town in Limpopo Province.
The Department of Health rolled out the vaccine campaign for all the teachers and elderly people.
Learners managed to complete their 2nd term tests and finished before schools were directed to close early.
Learners will access lessons through educational television programmes, radio and online learning. However, grade 12 will continue to attend extra classes.
The local Police Services, Party and religious leaders, and home based carers, who go door to door, are taking part in educating the community, encouraging people to take the pandemic seriously.
The club members prepared the vegetable garden and planted the seedlings. Garden work happens during break time to those who are free to work and also during practical related to life orientation and hospitality studies. “The students are eager to do the work. Every day, they remind me, “Lets’ go to the garden Sister Grace.”
You can read about establishing the school vegetable gardens in previous years here.
The gift of R100 or £20 enables Grace to buy enough different seedlings to fill the beds at one school and produce vegetables for the school feeding project and hospitality studies when students learn how to cook and serve meals.
STATISTICS: 150 CONSULTED individually
Medical issues – 20 (asthma, HIV, epilepsy, arthritis, dental and ear infections and eczema)
Social Problems – 30 (lack of family support, smoking, sexual assault, no clothes etc.)
Pregnant – 5 (2 fifteen years old from Meetshetshehla and 2 from Leseding schools)
Minor ailments – 10 (Menstrual issues, headaches, dizziness)
Sexually Transmitted Infections – 10 (gonorrhoea, balanitis and HIV)
Counselling – 30 (adherence, psychological and emotional, bereavement counselling to those who lost their guardians or family members, coping with pregnancy & nutrition)
Disciplinary action – 20 (not submitting class work, smoking on school premises and disrupting fellow learners)
Referrals for Contraceptives – 25 (learners commenced on contraceptives from the Clinic)
The numbers have been low as learners do not attend school regularly. I noticed a reduction in winter common colds due to limited number of learners per class.
NOTE: 1000 learners were reached in class for ongoing health-related topics linked to Life Orientation, Nutrition, Hygiene and STI/HIV (These were from grade 9 to 12 and were reached on different occasions as requested by their class teachers from 2secondary schools (Meetsetshehla and Leseding)
This ground-breaking scheme is financed by private donations to The Waterberg Trust. If you can help, please click here for different ways to make a donation.
Food parcels are being distributed in the Waterberg to support 113 needy people. Dr Peter Farrant says, “It is a busy time as temperatures are dropping significantly and winter is imposing herself!”
Sister Grace writes to say: I continued my routine home visits to identify new beneficiaries, checking up on previous ones and teaching basic health education to families and their children. This includes preventive measures to curtail the spread of the common cold, regular hand washing and the importance of wearing masks when in public places. I noticed that many people are ignorant about the need to wear masks when interacting with others.
-Sister Grace in the Waterberg-
Some beneficiaries have found employment while others have relocated to their families. Those with valid documentation were referred to the Social Development for continuity of food parcel support.
I managed to locate the Mozambican family who are related to the mentally disabled person who stands by the roadside near Build- It hardware shop. I referred this matter to the Social Worker and the Police Victim Support unit but it is taking too long to get him transferred to hospital for proper psychological assessment and treatment. A concerted effort is being made to take the man to the local district hospital using the SAPS. The plan is to manage his mental illness and provide shelter.
CHALLENGES: I came across 2 teenage mothers who had family disputes with their parents. They were left without food for days. I managed to conduct family meetings and distributed food parcels to the children. They are continuing to attend school. One girl is in grade 10 at Meetsethehla School, aged 17 years, the other in grade 12 at Lesideng High School, aged 18 years.
–We equip some learners without parents with school uniform–
Some Youths are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse even at school which leads them to scholastic and learning failure and in the community to theft and gender-based violence.
I found it difficult to locate those needy families living in informal settlements as the addresses are not properly indicated, however those with phone contacts were able to be assisted.
Many foreign residents on chronic medication had poor adherence due to lack of understanding and the language barrier as they could not speak the local language nor English. I involved local caregivers who could translate and explain clearly.
– FAMILY MEMBERS COLLECT FOOD PARCELS ON BEHALF OF THEIR SICK RELATIVES –
PROGRESS: School children have access to meals on daily basis and are attending school.
Social Workers and religious groups help distribute food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable.
Community members have been offered temporary employment within the community and private sector which enables them to supply their families.
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable and provide needed support i.e. food parcels, nutritional supplements, clothing warm blankets and psychosocial counselling.
The need for shelter for the homeless was discussed at an Elders meeting. The plan is to improve our existing shelter and to manage it more effectively. It is important to ensure that it is used for limited periods per person, so that it is not occupied permanently, as is the case at present.