All posts by Sophie Neville

About Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

News from School Nurse Grace in the Waterberg

TWT Grace in uniform

On daily basis, I am able to see 20 learners as well as those who are receiving ongoing counselling and check-ups.

Daily routine work at each school:

  • Learners with health related issues come to see me for consultation and examination. For emergencies/priorities e.g. those with fever, epileptic seizures, physical injuries, breathing difficulties, and flu-like illnesses are seen immediately. These may require referral to the clinic or private doctor. During the day I am available to see urgent cases which teachers are unable to deal with.
  • Life style matters such as diabetes, HIV infection, pregnancy, reproductive health issues i.e. menstrual issues, sexual transmitted diseases, mental and emotional issues including depression/psychosis are reported to me on daily basis.
  • I counsel and follow up on these learners on regular basis as appropriate and some of them are referred to the clinic or private doctor for further management. I also do home visits as needed and as time permits. I keep confidential records for each learner and record my daily activities.

SOCIAL MATTERS:

I usually deal with a number of social issues, making referrals to relevant stakeholders. Problems include:

  • Family disputes
  • Drug and alcohol use and abuse including tobacco smoking, cannabis, nyaope and glue
  • Hunger and inadequate food at home
  • Poor living conditions
  • Individual rights abuse e.g. no place to study, drunken family members disrupting the house
  • Physical abuse e.g. beating and causing injury to learners

DAILY SCHEDULE:

My daily schedule continues as agreed with management at the beginning of school programme. I report and sign from Meetsetshehla School every morning, then visit other schools.

  • Monday – Meetsetshehla High School
  • Tuesday & Wednesday – Leseding High School
  • Thursday- Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools
  • Friday- Meetsetshehla High School until 13.30pm, thereafter I do home visits to identified learners.

STATISTICS – Estimated from my records calculated from daily visits and follow up interventions:

  • Pregnant – 12 (four at Meetshtshehla, six at Leseding High School and two 15 year olds from Mahlasedi Primary) were counselled on average once a week after 30 weeks gestation approximately 108 visits
  • Medical Issues – 54 visits (Some learners were seen more than once)
  • Minor ailments –135 visits
  • Counselling – 63 sessions
  • Referrals – 25 (girls for contraceptives from the local government clinic)
  • Home Visits – 20
  • Health Education – 72 Learners from Leseding High School and 78 from Mokolo Primary School

Pregnant learners are monitored on regular basis to make sure they are attending antenatal clinic. Those under the influence of alcohol and drug abuse continue with counselling, which includes their parents and caregivers at home.

Liaison with the local government clinic is needed to follow up on those who are on chronic medication and to monitor adherence and progress by checking their files. 

CHALLENGES:

  • School programme services for Meetshetshehla Secondary School were affected by the pending appointment of a new Principal.
  • Primary schools are still overcrowded and teachers have difficulty ensuring every learner has been assisted and understands their topics.
  • Interruptions of studies due to unplanned meetings and workshops where learners are returned home without being taught.

PROGRESS:

  • The support for school programme has been acknowledged and welcomed by the surrounding schools and the community, which makes work easier.
  • Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools have managed to set up vegetable gardens with the aim of supplementing nutrition to the learners.
Produce from the Metsetshehla School vegetable garden sponsored by Environmental Impact Management Services
  • The Department of Education within the Waterberg district regularly visit the Schools to ensure teachers are doing their job as per requirement and to monitor those who are absent for no reason.
  • The community is involved with recycling and aware about the importance of keeping our town clean whilst they earn extra income from selling the recyclable materials. The environmental club held an awareness campaign to encourage every household to take part with green project by planting trees or to set up a vegetable garden
  • Learners know where to go to access contraceptives and STI screening i.e. the clinic
New uniforms for the school nurse

MEETINGS ATTENDED:

  • We had a meeting with the mayor, and different party leaders to discuss about issues of poor academic performance and standards of Meetsetshehla Secondary School. A follow up meeting by the mayor and party leaders was held on 13th January 2020.
  • The Social Development Services to discuss about ways of issuing food parcels to the vulnerable learners and their families.
  • The Victim Support unit based at the local police station and discussed ways to clamp down illegal drug dealers who supply illicit substances to youth in our community, issues of gender based violence and how we can prevent illegal weapons to enter on school premises.
  • Parents meeting held at the community hall to ensure they get involved in assisting their children to take education seriously and to avoid roaming on streets at awkward hours for safety reasons.
Crop of vegetables grown at Meetshesethla School Veggie Garden

FUTURE PLANS:

  1. To extend school visits to Mothlakamotala High School at least twice per month as it is located 20km away from the feeder schools along the main road by request from parents. Learners who attend at this school come from our surrounding community and would access the services provided by the school nurse.
  2. To ensure more teenage girls access contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies i.e. those who are sexually active.
  3. To educate primary school adolescents about sexual heath and reproductive issues before they reach high school
  4. Monitoring and making follow ups on all babies delivered, those who are under alcohol & drug abuse to continue home visits involving parents.
  5. Every home must understand the importance of nutrition and how to prevent malnutrition in babies that are left at home by learners i.e. to have proper information about balanced diet meals.
  6. Community awareness education about gender based violence, HIV/TB, Alcohol & drug abuse, reproductive and sexuality health and where to go for help and support. Awareness can be raised during parents meetings and by inviting different stake holders like Social Workers, Party representatives, religious leaders and youth representatives to speak to the school community.
Kale grown in a school veggie garden for the nutrition project

ENVIRONMENTAL:

The Green School Program continues. I have been able to set up and maintain a primary school environmental club at Mokolo Primary School. The aim is to expose learners to gardening, wildlife and the importance of conservation. They also received a donation of shade netting, poles, garden tools, compost and seedlings from Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS). To read more about this, please click here.

Mokolo primary school environmental club – grades 6 and 7

Acknowledgement letters were sent to those who continuously donate assorted items to schools i.e. Clothes, garden tools, educational trips, trees and vegetable seedlings: EIMS, THE FOLD CHILDREN’S HOME, HORIZON HORSE BACK, WATERBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE and SAVE THE WATERBERG RHINO

Mr Thipe of Mokolo Primary School with Andrew Smith of EIMS

Mokolo primary school has 2,000 learners. Many are orphans and come to school hungry. The garden supplies additional nutrition to the feeding scheme. Mr. Thipe is the teacher in charge for the vegetable garden and links it to his life skills subject. The newly formed environmental club members help to water and maintain the garden.

This is nurse Grace’s new consulting room at Meetsetshehla School.  She needs to add a lock to the door and kit it out. If you would like to help, please click here for different ways to donate.

 

The Waterberg Security Initiative Group provide First Aid

TWT SIG defibrillator

The Waterberg Trust has provided a life-saving defibrillator and First Aid equipment for use in emergencies in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province.

“The defibrillator is kept with Paul Dorfling, a qualified person who also has a fully equipped First Aid bag and SIG response trailer. The defibrillator has been going to every training exercise so all the First Aiders are familiar with it. “The battery and pads on the machine are about to expire and replacing them will cost about R5 000.”

TWT SIG defibrillator open

The other two First Aid bags are kept with First Responders who have the proper training. They are split between the Melkrivier and Vaalwater areas to be available for any situation in the Waterberg.

The most recent use of the First Aid kits was at an accident on the main road to Modimolle. A TWT Trustee explained, “This was a horrid road accident just outside Vaalwater involving a tractor and car at night. The woman driving the car died on impact but her husband was treated on the scene by SIG for the couple of hours that it took before an ambulance got there.” SIG were the only people with First Aid training able to get to the scene. “There is now only one doctor in Vaalwater – Dr van Jaarsveld and she has not been here over the Christmas period.”

The First Responder from SIG said, “I found the bag helpful… The main items needed are gauze, plasters (different sizes and strips), sterri-strips for stitching, wound dressings, bandages, tourniquets and gloves.”

If you would like to make a donations to re-fill these First Aid bags refilled and provide new batteries for the defibrillator, please click here.

Waterberg Welfare Society’s after-school study program

Beneficiary’s success story:

“My school performance or results during term one were so bad, that I was so scared to show my parents my school progress report! I never thought I will manage to pass grade 11. My friend invited me to the Soul Buddy study club, at first I dint understand what’s really happening here! But after few months I then realized that this is important place for me. I never liked working in a group or study is a group.

This programme has taught me that if people can work together we will achieve more, my school marks has improved so well. My self-esteem and confidence has also improved. I love this initiative and I will cherish every moment and opportunity I receive from this programme. Yours: Lerato….    

WWS club

Waterberg Welfare Society Educational Support Progress Report, July–Sept 2019 

Project Aims:

  • To provide extra tutorial studies in Mathematics, Physical Science, English, Technology, Life Science, Geography and Agricultural Science.
  • To equip learners with broadened solving skills, which will enable them to get better exam results.
  • To motivate learners, so that they are able to take up challenging subjects and fill the future employment gap.

WWS homework

Project Outcomes:

  • Knowledge and learning in a safe, nurturing environment.
  • Improvement of cooperation among teachers and learners.
  • Improvement of digital (ICT) skills and learning strategies.
  • Social skills, improvement in cooperation and greater wish for cooperation with peers at home, promoting adult-child communication.

WWS club 2

How many people benefited from this project in this reporting months?

A total of 80 participants was reached during the reporting period:

  • 40 learners who are in grade 8 (30 Females & 15 males)
  • 14 learners who are in grade 10 ( 6 Females & 4 Females
  • 24 learners who are in grade 11 (22 females & 2 Males)
  • 2 learners who are in grade 12 ( 1 Female & 1 Males)

WWS home work

What are the major challenges and how are they overcome?

  • Lack of parental support. We noticed learners are under immense pressure. One of the key reasons they are going through hardship is that some of their parents are comparing them with other children. Instead of being supportive, they expect them to perform very well. Families were identified and official visits were made to engage with parents or caregivers and come up with the best solution to support their children’s education. Feedback from the visits is very positive and children were allowed to attend additional extra study sessions.
  • Bullying and peer pressure. Learners have developed unnecessary competitiveness over the type of phone they carry, the school they attend and the school marks they get each term. This has resulted in some dropping out of the study club, however through ongoing focus group sessions with the affected groups we were able to address majority of the of their frustrations. We also went to the local high school to engage with their respective teachers. Extra mural activities such as fun runs, movies clubs and fitness activities were introduced as a way of teaching learners the importance of teamwork and the risks of bullying and negative peer pressure.
  • Hot weather contributed negatively to the attendance of learners and makes it difficult for the participants to focus. We have started engaging with parents and most support the idea of extending our operating hours prior to the final examinations.
  • Lack of teachers in high school. Some learners didn’t have class teachers in the 2nd school term. This had a negative impact on their school performance. Through support from TWT, our tutors will spend more time with such learners and provide additional support involving participants in the decision making process and providing learners with an opportunity to commit to additional sessions.

WWS club 3

The impact of the project during the reporting period:

  • Improved social skills
  • Improved school grades
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence

WWS club 5

What lessons were learnt during the implementation of the project? 

  • Education is a societal issue. It requires all stakeholders, especially parents and caregivers, to work together.
  • Edutainment works well for learners. Making education fun motivates participants and give them a space to want to learn more.
  • A safe space for participants should always be maintained at all times, this enables them to share some of the frustrations they are encountering at school, in the community and at home.
  • Creating a congenial space for learning is critical. It allows participants to plan and sometimes co-facilitate their study sessions.
  • Peer pressure and bullying has a negative impact on other learners. We always to encourage learners to talk openly about such issues. Further support is required to help those affected.

WWS club 4

If you would like to support this educational project,

please contact The Waterberg Trust, or make a donation here

The Waterberg Trust Logo with white writing

EIMS’ gift of advice & resources for Mokolo Primary School’s vegetable garden

~Mr Thipe with nurse Grace Ismail at Mokolo Primary School’s vegetable garden~

The Environment Club, run by nurse Grace of TWT, have been busy establishing a vegetable garden at Mokolo Primary School in Leseding Township in the heart of the Waterberg . A great deal of effort has been put into cultivation but the project lacked resources.

~Tomato seedlings at Mokolo Primary School vegetable garden in need of shade netting~

The Waterberg has been experiencing a heatwave this Spring and without shade netting it is difficult to get plants established.

~Mr Thipe of Mokolo Primary School with Andrew Smith and his team from EIMS ~

On Friday 25th October, Andrew Smith returned to Vaalwater with the team from Environmental Impact Management Services to offer advice on optimising irrigation.

~Mr Thrip of Mokolo Primary School receiving advice from Andrew Smith of EIMS~

EIMS brought with them a trailer-load of supplies carefully selected to fullfill the needs of a school vegetable garden, help it succeed and provide nutritious food for pupils.

Members of the Environment Club and other pupils helped unload 20 x 20kg bags or organic fertilizer, along with spinach, green pepper, beetroot and tomato plants.

EIMS also donated garden tools, compost, shade netting, fencing material, fence posts and seeds to be planted in their school veggie garden.

Very many thanks to Environmental Impact Management Services for this amazing gift!

Do get in touch if you would like to help uplift the people and place of the Waterberg. It is quick and easy to make a donation here, specifying how you would like to help.

At the Living Museum in the Waterberg

 

~ Anton Walker & Clive Walker with members of TWT and Save The Waterberg Rhino~

Jane Whitbread of The Waterberg Trust met with Save The Waterberg Rhino board members at the Living Museum this week to discuss future fundraising projects. They were hosted by Anton Walker and his father, the author Clive Walker who founded the Endangered Wildlife Trust and established the Lapalala Wliderness School, supported by The Waterberg Trust.

~Members of the Environment Club on a one day course at Lapalala Wilderness School~

The Environment Club, overseen by NET’s School Nurse Grace Ismail, visited both the Living Museum and Lapalala Wilderness School recently. To read more about this, and other conservation projects the school club is engaged in, please click here.

~ The rhino room at The Living Museum in the Waterberg ~

The Waterberg Trust has provided the Living Museum with information boards, tables and benches used by local pupils on school visits.

This month, Wilhelmina Loudon-Barnaart, board member of The Waterberg Trust,  visited July Letsebe and Zach Sekhu at the Waterberg Welfare Society in Vaalwater. She enjoyed seeing around the after-school homework club, a learner support programme includes maths, English and computer studies. To read more about this, please click here.

~The learner support programme at WWS sponsored by The Waterberg Trust ~

If you would like to help The Waterberg Trust support conservation and educational projects in the Waterberg region of South Africa, please click here.

 

The Environment Club

Nurse Grace Ismail and life skills teacher Ivy Rachele have  formed an Environment Club made up of 45 pupils who have been involved in establishing a school vegetable garden.  Since tilling the soil, thirty children from Meetsetshehla Secondary School and fifteen who attend Leseding High School have been going on amazing visits to local game reserves to observe wild animals in their natural habitat.

~School Nurse Grace Ismail with members of the Environment Club leaving Vaalwater for a day-visit to Marakele National Park~ 

South African National Parks have started a ‘Kids in Parks’ initiative aimed at primary schools. Nurse Grace says, they “teach children about wildlife, nature conservation and cultural heritage so that when they reach high school they will be able to understand the importance of protecting animals and preserving the environment.” Special activities make young people aware of water conservation, so critical in South Africa.

16th June 2019 was Youth Day. Some members of the Environment Club were invited to talk on Waterberg Waves community radio to educate listeners about environmental issues.  Elvis Chitanda, aged 11, who attends Vaalwater Primary School, had the opportunity to speak on air, saying, “I really hope people don’t poach animals.”

Samuel Motswi from the People and Conservation Department of Marekele National Park  in the Waterberg, delivered a number of indigenous trees that could be planted by children in school grounds.

Pupils learnt how to plant saplings, which included marula, red bushwillow, weeping boerbean and knob thorn.

~Planting indigenous trees in the grounds of Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools, Meesetshehla and Leseding secondary Schools and two creches in Vaalwater ~

The Environment Club has also partnered with Morji Kitsi, who visits schools and takes groups to Welgevonden Game Reserve and the Living Museum, which is also supported by The Waterberg Trust.

TWT pupils going to Welgrovenden

They learn about eco-systems while driving through the bush, viewing game.

The Waterberg Biosphere recently sponsored members of the club to attend a one day course at Lapalala Wilderness School when they were able to handle a python.

~Members of the Environment Club on a day visit to Lapalala Wilderness School~

Club members and other students are engaged in collecting litter and talking to people about waste, encouraging them to recycle.

The Environment Club talking to people about recycling

It is a great project for the youth and has been successful in Vaalwater where there is an agent in town who receives the materials and sends them on in bulk.

It works particularly well as people need the money earned from recycling tins, paper and glass, which would otherwise languish in the bush.

Members communicate via a Whatsapp group, giving dates for meetings or environmental activities.

Nurse Grace also gives students the opportunity to meet those engaged in traditional crafts such as making brooms out of grass cut from roadside verges.

Meanwhile the school vegetable garden sponsored by EIMS is producing a fine harvest of nutritious greens, including spinach, French beans and beetroot.

To read more about the gift of a school vegetable garden please click here.

Sales of produce are being saved to buy more seedlings. Some of the vegetables have been used by students studying hotel and catering management at Meetsetshehla School.

If you would like to help with the Environment Club please contact TWT

donate_white Justgiving button

Learner support programmes at the Waterberg Welfare Society sponsored by TWT

TWT homework club desks and computers

Waterberg Welfare Society’s Educational Support 

TWT recently visited the Waterberg Welfare Society’s homework club and were excited to receive a progress report.

Project Aims:

  • To provide extra tuition in Mathematics, Physical Science, English, Technology, Life Science, Geography and Agricultural Science.
  • To equip learners with broader skills, which will enable them to do well in exams.
  • To motivate learners so they are able to take up challenging subjects and fill the employment gap in the future.

“I never understood the importance of computer training, I thought I know everything to do with technology, I open all my social pages, and always on social media and that made me to think that I am good in technology! But since I started the basic computer literacy program I realized that there is still much to learn, so I am so happy for being part of the study club, so keep up the good work.” Lesego. 

Project Outcomes:

  • Gaining knowledge and learning skills.
  • Improved cooperation between teachers and learners.
  • Improved digital (ICT) skills and better use of learning strategies.
  • Improved social skills and cooperation with peers, promoting adult–child communication.

~Tutors at the Waterberg Welfare Society Homework Club~

Progress in the implementation:

  • Pupils have shown growth and improvement in English presentations and reading.
  • They have learned how to best communicate with one another, giving others the necessary time and a chance to speak.
  • Tremendous progress has been made since the inception of the project. 50 learners (about 75% of the total) passed their first quarter school assessments and are highly motivated. Learners in Matric (grade 12) in 2018 passed their subjects and went on to tertiary education (Institutions of higher learning).
  • Once we get school reports for the 2nd quarter of 2019 we will have the opportunity to analyse and compare the first and second quarter school performance for all registered learners.
  • Overall, the learners have geared themselves towards academic achievement.
  • The programme has become a huge success in the community. 70% of our learners are exposed to basic computer literacy.
  • Learning aid/materials and stationary were purchased. All registered participants receive a daily nutritious snack. This has increased their contribution and commitments in the programme.
  • We have been able to incorporate learning whilst we play ball.

80 people have benefited from this project each month:

45 participants between the ages of 7 – 12 years old (30 girls & 15 boys)

35 participants between the ages of 13-18 years (22 girls & 13 boys)

 

What are the major challenges and how are they overcome?

  • The major challenge was lack of communication skills among participants (talking at each other, not giving each other a chance to speak, disrespecting one another etc.). We were able to overcome this by using a ball as a communication tool, each one speaking with a ball in their hand and giving one another a chance to speak. This helped the kids realise that it is a lot better to listen and understand rather than to talk at each other and that communicating is more than just speaking.
  • The secondary school participants are not able to use a computer and yet they are given lots of school research projects. We have introduced basic computer literacy sessions with participants from the primary phase. This has brought confidence, created skills and and understanding of basic research.
  • Learners tend to deviate from the normal time-table and try to focus on either what they expected or immediate tasks needed by their teachers. This means our planned activities change on an almost daily basis. The educator is forced to alter the plan to suit the learners’ needs. Sometimes the learners bring the subject matter, which is out of the plan for that day, and not part of the subjects mentioned for study. Monitoring of daily tasks becomes a problem. The educator moves around checking learners study programmes but sometimes this is a challenge. A discussion needs to be held with registered participants in order to come to a workable solution. It is always important to involve participants in decision making process.

The impact of the project during the reporting period:

  • Improved social skills of registered kids
  • Improved performance at schools
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence

“… made me to understand challenging topics in Physics like Mechanics,  energy and  in Mathematics. I can now solve problems in Geometry through the help of my Tutor. He has done a perfect job in sharpening many learning mind in Science Subjects. I also now have a career through the help of my Tutor. I appreciate the services given to me”. By Rebecca

What lessons were learnt during the implementation of the project?

  • Communication through various texts, writing, speaking, reading, visuals and drawing.
  • Promoting paired, shared and individual reading is critical, the culture of reading is key and this needs to be promoted at a household level.
  • Exposing participants in various career workshops/session at an early stages in critical.
  • A safe space for participants should always be maintained at all times, this enables them to share some of the frustrations they are encountering in school, the community and at home such as bullying, peer pressure and etc.

~Some members of the Waterberg Welfare Society’s ‘Soul Buddies’ homework club~