All posts by Sophie Neville

About Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT for MAY 2021

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.

FUTURE PLANS:

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.

If you wold like to support this project by making a donation – please click here

Funds are carefully monitored.

-Taking food to the sick –

Sister Grace’s work in schools of the Waterberg

Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that Sister Grace is continuing to do good work at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater where she is based. She spends one day a week at Lesideng High School and visits Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools once a week.

School nurse and councillor

Dr Farrant says, “Recently the need for school nurse counsellors has been recognised by the Government. Whether they introduce such appointments is to be seen. Thank you for your financial support for this position! There is no doubting Grace’s beneficial presence at all the schools.”

                             SCHOOL REPORT FROM FEBRUARY – APRIL 2021

DAILY DUTIES:

Schools re-opened and learners have been attending in a phased manner without interruptions or serious issues. Sister Grace says, “All Corvid–19 protocols concerning prevention, with regular hand washing and social distancing are adhered to. Staff and learners sign a daily register after being screened and temperature recorded.” This is to detect abnormalities before anyone enters the school premises. About 400 learners are screened on daily basis.

LEARNERS BEING SCREENED AND SIGNING OF REGISTER BEFORE ENTRY ONTO SCHOOL PREMISES

“Classrooms and offices are sanitized regularly. Learners are well-informed about all the precautions and educated on general hygiene measures and risks of cross infection. When they present flu-like symptoms, they are thoroughly checked and screened to rule out common colds. If severe symptoms arise they are referred to the clinic for further management and treatment.”

The Matric results for two Secondary Schools:

Some passed to study at various universities and colleges, while others got only a normal pass. They were given chance to register and rewrite any subjects failed.

Meetsetshehla High School – (Total number of leaners 94. 63% passed)

Leseding High School – (Total number of learners 17. 94.1 % passed)

CHALLENGES:

  • Increased number of teenage pregnancies with an unwillingness to report until discovered in their last trimester
  • Learners dropping out of school for no reason with some involved in domestic theft
  • Alcohol and drug abuse among the leaners with some caught with dagga and cigarettes on school premises
  • Fatigue due to pressure of school work as learners have to attend school for long hours in order to catch up on lost time. They have many assignments and homework to be completed
  • Learners who walk a distance to and from school are unable to do all assignments as they arrive home late, tired upon arrival
  • Over-aged learners who keep repeating in the same class are a bad influencer on newcomers, however disciplinary hearings were conducted
  • Absconding from school during break time without permission from the teacher.

PROGRESS:

  • The Department of Education appointed and employed educational teacher assistants and general workers to work for a short term period (3 months) in surrounding schools. This has helped a lot as the workers assist with cleaning school premises, packing and distributing books to learners, filing and photocopying.
  • E-learning programme based at Meetsetshehla High School run by Leseding Education Network, through the Northern Education Trust, will help those needing extra classes do their assignments, download study guides and be able to learn live experiments according to their curriculum. (Learners from surrounding schools are using this opportunity. They attend the classes at Meetsetshehla.)
  • Matriculants are attending school on a daily basis to ensure they are well prepared and able to catch up on studies  
  • Teachers are willing to help learners who need special assistance in certain subjects
  • The feeding scheme continues to provide meals for learners on daily basis as a nutritional supplement, including fruit and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet.

ONE LEARNER IS ATTENDING ONGOING COUNSELING ON SUBSTANCE AND DRUG ABUSE AND ALSO HAS A COURT CASE, ACCUSED OF RAPE. HE’S IN GRADE 10 AM AND 19 YEARS OLD.

UNDISCIPLINED LEARNERS ATTEND DISCIPLINARY MEETINGS FROM THEIR TEACHER AND PARENTS ARE NOTIFIED.

THE GOOD NEWS:

We have started environmental activities with learners from grade 8 – 11, who have formed a club that will be involved in recycling and gardening. This will help them demonstrate life orientation tasks and projects. Members are grouped in sixes to limit overcrowding. Each group has been assigned to a specific task and will work closely with the teacher assistants on particular days. The garden has just been set up and will benefit learners with nutritional supplementation through the feeding scheme and Hospitality Studies.

PROVIDING NEW SCHOOL UNIFORM FOR VULNERABLE LEARNERS

THESE LEARNERS ARE MOZAMBICAN NATIONALS ARE ASSISTED WITH FOOD PARCELS. BOYS ALSO RECEIVED SCHOOL UNIFORM AND WINTER WEAR.

THE ELDRER SISTER ACKNOWLEDGING RECEIPT AS PROOF OF PAYMENT FOR HER MATRIC UNIFORM

144 girls need washable sanitary pads. A message was sent to our kind sponsor Andrew Smith who is willing to transport a box from Pretoria.

If you would like to find out how to make a donation via The Waterberg Trust in the UK to enable Sister Grace to buy school uniform or washable sanitary packs, please click here.

CLASSROOM EDUCATION:  

Grade 8 learners were welcomed, orientation was given, with basic hygiene measures and menstrual issues explained to girls.

All grade 9 learners were educated on HIV/AIDS, TB, STIs, lifestyle diseases and ways of prevention and treatment. This is linked to Life Orientation studies.

Learners are helped with career guidance. This helps them to work hard in certain subjects to reach their dream careers.

MEETINGS:

I attended various meetings with stake-holders such as the Department of Social Development, the South African Police and community leaders. Issues of gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, substance and alcohol abuse were discussed. The police are ready to work with the community and help to clamp down on those involved in dealing in illegal drugs, which leads to gender-based violence and domestic theft.

Social workers are involved in identifying social problems in the communities and help those who needed social support through counseling and providing basic needs like food and temporary shelter.

STATISTICS:

199 LEARNERS WERE CONSULTED INDIVIDUALLY. THE REST WERE ADDRESSED IN CLASSES

PREGNANT – 18 (10 Meetsetshehla & 8 from Leseding High Schools)

ASTHMATIC – 6 (1 Learner was admitted to hospital with a severe asthmatic attack but she’s much better)

COUNSELING – 30 (HIV, & STI, substance abuse, promiscuity, bereavement and family planning)

DISCIPLINARY ISSUES – 15 (Late-comers, improper uniform, unable to complete school work, and trouble-makers)

MINOR AILMENTS – 35 (Menstrual issues, headaches, dizziness, scabies, earache and tooth ache)

LEARNING PROBLEMS – 40 (20 from Meetsetshehla and 15 from Leseding High Schools)

CONTRACEPTIVE REFERRALS – 55 (teenage learners who are sexually active were referred to the local government clinic)

FUTURE PLANS:

  • To encourage more learners to use the E-Learning programme, which will benefit and empower them through extra tutoring and learning
  • I will continue with health education and screening to all learners and encourage them on the importance of prevention of various illnesses.
  • I will continue to help leaners with life orientation topics related to health and nutrition.

Schools will be closed for a week from 23rd April and reopen on 3rd May 2021 . Those in grade 12 will continue to have extra lessons.

Compiled by:  Grace (School nurse/Counselor)

Continued food parcel distribution and help for families in the Waterberg

The Waterberg Trust helps fund much needed food parcels for needy families in Vaalwater, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Schools are back in South Africa, functioning in such a way that the learners between grades 8 and 11 attend on alternate weeks. The grade 12 learners, nearing Matriculation, attend every day. However all pupils are allowed to attend for lunch during break, which helps with food provision.

We are currently supporting eighty individuals. Sister Grace is finding new problems with taverns opening and several families are in acute need.

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT MARCH 2021

DUTIES:

Sister Grace reports, “I made routine home visits to identify those in need and followed up on those taking chronic medication to ensure they are adhering to treatment and are doing well. I found 3 patients who were very sick, living in an informal settlement without food or any source of income.” They are foreign nationals without documentation and have children to support. “I asked the local home-based carers to continue checking them and to help with treatment support on a daily basis. Food parcels were delivered by volunteers and others sent friends to collect on their behalf as they couldn’t reach the supermarket due to ill health.”

Collecting food parcels in Vaalwater

CHALLENGES:

  • Poor living conditions with shortage of water, no electricity or sanitation
  • For no apparent reason, children are not attending school and just sit at home helping their parents with house chores
  • Increase in teenage pregnancy
  • Dysfunctional families who are alcoholics and fail to support their children as they spend money on alcohol
  • Job retrenchments due to Covid – 19 challenges in some sectors
  • Huge families unable to buy enough food to last for a month
  • Chronically ill patients living alone with no family to support them
  • Alcohol abuse and gender based violence increasing as taverns and bottle stores are re-opened
  • Foreign nationals have no access to any grants nor government subsidies
  • Some applications for help are not as desperate as the majority

Some needy cases

  • Two learners at Meetsetshehla School are from a refugee family (Mozambique) who require regular feeding and help. with clothing and school uniform. They need ongoing social support.
  • An 18 year-old boy from a needy family needs help with school uniform and clothing.
  • There is a homeless man on the main road of the town who is in need of placement in a place of safety and who also needs assessment in the district hospital. We have written to the Dept. Social Development about him.
  • A widow with no documentation.
  • A boy who lost his Mum and her partner due to alcohol poisoning is receiving bereavement counseling.

PROGRESS:

  • Many learners are back to school and have access to daily food supplements from the feeding scheme.
  • Short term employment of community members in surrounding schools will help them to earn income to support their families. The contract started from December 2020 – March 2021.
  • Some families found employment while others are receiving the temporary Social Relief Grants.
Sister Grace wearing The Waterberg Trust uniform

HEALTH EDUCATION:

During home visits, Sister Grace educates families on the importance of regular hand-washing and the wearing of masks when in public places. She has checked on teenage moms and their babies well-being to ensure they are properly looked after as most of them are left at home with grannies.

FINANCIAL DONATIONS:

Many thanks for the financial donations that went into Acts of Mercy fund and will benefit those in need. May God bless you all. Please click here for details of how you could make a donation.

– In uncertain times it is more comforting to provide ingredients for cooking than ready meals –

Food Parcel Distribution and Help for Needy Families in the Waterberg

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT FEBRUARY 2021

More than 72 individuals are currently being supported with food parcels purchased with the help of funding from The Waterberg Trust’s Covid 19 Appeal. You can read more about this here.

Emergency food parcels

Sister Grace writes to say, “I continued with routine assessment through home visits to reach out to those with social problems due to various issues and also monitor those who are chronically ill to ensure they are taking their medication as prescribed.” She was able to refer 5 families to the social development for application of ID documents and social grants for their children.

“I do co-ordinate with network partners who are involved in supporting the community with food distribution and other social relief. These are religious groups from various churches, party representatives and youth organizations.”

CHALLENGES:

  • Job loss as a result of the country’s economic challenges due Covid-19 restrictions
  • Poor living conditions in informal settlements with no proper sanitation or irregular water supply.
  • Lack of knowledge and information about the Covid-19 pandemic and preventative measures, which leads to many not taking the proper precautions of wearing masks and regular hand wash. “I interviewed about 20 elderly people who were not wearing masks and they simply said they don’t see a reason to wear a mask when the virus is not known in the community and they have no proper information about the infection and risks. After proper explanation about ways of transmission and signs and symptoms they understood and willing to adhere to preventive measures.”
  • 3 chronically ill foreign nationals who have no family support were referred to homebased carers for regular monitoring.
Collecting a food parcel put together by volunteers from St John’s Church, 24 Rivers

SUCCESS STORIES:

  • Food parcels and clothes were distributed to needy people
  • The Government extended the Social Relief Grant by three months to ensure those unemployed are able to provide food for their families during this Lockdown period.
  • A homeless man was assisted with a bus ticket to return back to Cape Town and was grateful for the assistance rendered.
A homeless man being returned to his family in Cape Town

DONATIONS of clothes, reusable sanitary towels, beanies and stationary from the Christians of St John’s Baptist Church at 24 Rivers came at the right time when schools reopened. These essentials were handed out to the less privileged learners and others in the community. Those who received the donated items and food parcels were grateful.

Sister Grace says, “I will continue to distribute food parcels as per scheduled during mid-month of March and emergency needs will be attended to immediately.” You can read about some of here home visits earlier in the year here.

Sr Grace visiting a teenage mother who needs clothes and equipment for her new baby so she can return to school for her final year

“During home visits, I came across a teenage mom who had delivered a baby girl. She lives with her grandparents and her siblings as they lost their parents long ago. I examined the baby who looked healthy. The teenage mom wants to go back to school in her final grade and will leave her baby with her grandmother who will support baby from her pension and buy formula. The father to the baby is unknown. I brought baby clothes and a food parcel, counselling the mother about proper care of her baby and the risks of malnutrition if the baby is not properly fed.”

If you could help with this important work in the Waterberg, please find out how you cold make a donation here The Waterberg Trust have a Justgiving page here.

The orphaned schoolgirl with her granny and newborn baby nursed by Sr Grace

News on Food Parcel Distribution to help needy families through Covid-19 Lockdown

Orphaned teenagers collecting food to feed their siblings

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT JANUARY 2021

CHALLENGES:  

  • Limpopo Province has been marked as the Covid-19 pandemic epi-centre with daily numbers of rising infections. This was a result of people travelling from other Provinces and visitors from neighbouring countries for festive holidays.
  • We have seen a rise in gender-based violence and family disputes. A single mother had a fight with her parents and was chased out of the house with her two daughters. She had to seek shelter from friends who accommodated them temporarily.
  • The ban on selling alcohol and closing of taverns led to the abuse of homemade traditional beer and arrests for breaking Lockdown regulations.
  • Some people in the community do not wear masks and are walking the streets freely, which can be a risk to others.
  • One homeless man has no identity document and says he has no family. His case has been handed over to the Social Development Department.
  • Relationships break-up due to employment issues.
  • Retrenchments have affected many, leaving them stranded and unable to support their families.

Despite Lockdown restricted movements, Nursing Sister Grace managed to reach out to the Community, assessed those who needed food parcels and made a follow-up visits to previous beneficiaries to check if they can sustain their families. Some families had gone on holiday, others had found short term employment, while others had no source of income.  She also came across two homeless men who needed food and clothing.

Food parcels for the unemployed who do not receive support elsewhere

NOTE: VOLUNTEERS DELIVER FOOD PARCELS TO THE ELDERLY AND THOSE WHO ARE CHRONICALLY ILL AND CANNOT REACH THE SUPERMARKET.

Sister Grace assessing a homeless man at the local petrol station

Sister Grace says, “I take food parcels to a few of the beneficiaries to avoid overcrowding at the supermarket, as per Lockdown regulations. All beneficiaries are advised to follow the Covid-19 protocols of wearing masks whenever they come to receive their food parcels.

A homeless man being brought food on a daily basis by Sr Grace as he has nowhere to store groceries. He was provided with clothes and referred to the social worker.

The beneficiaries were grateful and appreciative upon receiving food parcels.

A total of 55 people were aided. Some families received two parcel-packs as they have so many dependents.

Sister Grace says, “Besides the normal food parcels, I buy food supplements and additional nutrition for those who are chronically ill with HIV, diabetes and cancer to help them boost their immune system and to gain back strength i.e. liquid milk, future life and Morvite instant porridge.”

Food parcels delivered to a pensioner living in a caravan

If you would like to help by making a donation, however small, please click here

FUTURE PLANS: 

To continue to liaise with stakeholders to ensure smooth delivery of services to the community and to avoid duplication.

To continue to educate families about basic hygiene and how to prevent infections, including adherence counselling for those on lifelong treatment.

The next food parcels will be bought in February and handed out to those in need. Emergency food parcels will be provided immediately if the need arises.

Compiled By: Nursing Sister Grace

A single, expectant mother who has lost her ID card being helped with food

News on Food Parcel Distribution in the Waterberg for families in need

Thirty families in need of support in the Waterberg are being visited to ensure they have enough food and essential supplies. Education on basic hygiene measures is also offered. We are helping two child-headed families, some who are chronically ill, a man badly bitten by a dog, women with small children left with no means of support, an old woman with no ID card and many other needy cases.

120 individuals benefited in November and 94 in December 2020

TWT aims to support those who do not receive any social grant money, who are unemployed with no source of income or support, and are in urgent need of help. Those already on the Social Development system have been handed over to a social worker who has provided 18 families with food parcels donated by Shambala Game Reserve.

Nurse Grace works with Choppies supermarket and volunteers from St John’s Church who help to pack food parcels and deliver them to the elderly and those who can’t reach the supermarket due health issues.

We have been able to help those in crisis: thieves broke into one man’s house, stealing all his groceries whilst he was at a funeral. Another man had a fire at his house and needed clothes for his six children.

If you would like to make a donation to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 Appeal to assist the needy, please click here.

A WIDOW AND HER DAUGHTER BOTH COME FROM LESOTHO HAVE NO ID BOOKS . THE DAUGHTER HAS NEW BORN BABY.  AFTER LOSING HER HUSBAND IN AUGUST 2020, HER INLAWS TOOK THE FURNITURE AND LEFT THEM WITH NO SUPPORT OR FOOD.

Progress!
School children attending school benefit from the feeding scheme program
Those receiving grants are able to buy essential supplies for the family.

Some people are back at work while others now sell produce at the local market
Job opportunities for local community members in various sectors are emerging.

SCHOOL UNIFORM was bought for a boy from a dysfunctional family who now has counseling.
Current Challenges:
Increase in food prices.
Some families arrive late or find it difficult to collect the food.
Four children below the age of 10 are being neglected by their mother due alcohol. The issue has been handed over to social development for intervention.
5 families were abusing social grants. The cases were reported to the social worker.
Some people are becoming dependent on food parcels and do not want to work.

House break-ins and stealing within the community is worrisome with young boys involved in stealing from their parents.
Huge families are unable to feed their dependents.
Re-opening of taverns contributes to insecurity and unnecessary expenditure. This results in many drunken people leaving no food for their family.

Poor living conditions in informal settlements with poor sanitation and no water. Youth hang around quiet streets where they smoke, drink alcohol and abuse substances.
Cases of  gender-based violence resulting in physical injury and assault needed to be reported to the Police station.
One men was severely injured and needed to be taken to hospital.
Teenage pregnancies remain a challenge.

News of Covid-19 shielding from School Nurse Grace in the Waterberg

DAILY DUTIES:

Routine screening of all learners continues to take place before they enter school premises, when temperatures are checked and a register is signed. We ensure pupils are wearing proper uniform and are not carrying any items that can cause danger to other learners. This gives the school nurse an opportunity to identify learners who hide their pregnancy.

All staff members and any guests are also screened to ensure preventative measures are adhered to. Motivational speakers came from different political parties, the Department of Education, private companies and religious leaders who came to motivate learners during this hard time and to encourage them to study so they can achieve their dreams.

This was the last academic term for all schools in South Africa, with final examinations for grade 12’s. All other grades continued to attend in a phased manner, on weekly rotation, writing tests to enable them progress to the next grade.

Earlier in the year, Grade 12 learners in the Waterberg district attended a 10-day preparatory camp, run by the Department of Education, to prepare them for final examinations.

PROGRESS:

  1. Schooling continued without interruptions or problems.
  2. Grade 12’s wrote their examinations successfully.
  3. Social media communication with parents from certain schools helps circulate info, using a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page.
  4. Media learning (through TV and radio) helps learners to study whilst at home. 
  5. Extra classes were provided for learners to ensure they catch up from where they lacked with teachers willing to help.

Regular visits and monitoring of teachers by the Department of Education has ensured they are maintaining teaching standards.

The assistant agent Josias also helped the grade 12 on how to apply for University bursaries with the required information needed. This gave learners more courage and strength for the upcoming final examination.

The Mayor talking to learners at Meetsetshehla Secondary School

CHALLENGES encountered from September to December 2020

  1. Stress and anxiety cases are seen in learners due to pressure of studying for long hours together with a lot of schoolwork and assignments to be completed.
  2. I encountered two cases of teenage girls attempting suicide, one due to family issues and the other in denial to her positive HIV test from the clinic. Counselling sessions were conducted and will continue during the one-week holiday through home visits.
  3. Learners who are abusing drugs are finding it hard to cope with study as they are tired, feel weak and lack concentration.
  4. Some over-age learners are stuck in the junior phase. e.g. A 21-year-old still in grade 8 continues to come to school without progressing. The grandmother who is her carer refuses to allow her to go to a special school. There are several in this category. I plan to address this matter with the School Governing Body (SGB) and School Management Team (SMT) .
  5. Gender-based violence has increased among learners due to petty issues. Those found guilty go to a disciplinary hearing.
  6. Some pregnant learners are hiding pregnancies until a late stage and the policy regarding return to school after delivery is not being followed. I plan to raise this matter with the SGB and SMT.
  7. There is no internet access from the nursing office, therefore, I receive messages late and am unable to communicate with stakeholders on time when invited for meetings, other events or to send reports. The solution has been to provide monthly data.

Challenges due to Covid-19

  1. Some learners remove their masks when in class and some forget them at home.
  2.  No physical activities for learners to keep them busy due to the Corvid restrictions e.g. Sports, gardening and athletics
  3. Little ones from Primary Schools are not coping with wearing of masks and need close assistance.
  4. Some learners are not coping with the phasing of school attendance programme, requiring them to stay at home during rotational schedules.
  5. Some learners dropped out of school and are staying at home and some engaged in bad behavioural acts like drinking alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence.
Preparing for a home economics class

STATISTICS for September-October when 95 learners were consulted individually:

Medical issues: 25 (Asthmatic, Epilepsy, Dental Abscess, depression, and HIV, Poor Vision and ear infections)

Social Issues: 45 (family problems, lack of support, No food at home and no proper clothes, suicidal attempts, self-stigma, depression

Substance Abuse: 10 (5 from Meetsetshehla and 3 school-dropouts and 2 from Leseding High School)

Counselling: 15 (HIV & Stigma, dangers of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy & how to deal with depression)

Pregnant: 6 (3 Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 3 from Leseding High School)

*********

STATISTICS for November-December when 100 learners were consulted individually:

Medical Issues: 25 (Herpes Zoster, HIV/STI, Dog bite, Asthma, Epilepsy, Visual Impairment)

Social Issues: 35 (Substance abuse, Family issues, no food at home, poor living conditions and lack of parental support)

Counselling: 25 (Depression, HIV Adherence and prevention, Contraception benefits and side effects, ways for substance and alcohol withdrawal Syndrome)

Pregnant: 8 (5 Meetsetshehla and 3 Leseding High Schools)

Minor Issues: 7 (Menstrual issues, Headaches and dizziness)

NOTE: During final term number of learners who consulted were less as they don’t come to school every day when writing exams, they are given time to study at home before writing.

FUTURE PLANS: 

  1. To continue supporting learners who are faced with various challenges
  2. We hope to cooperate with a local pastor to establish a drug rehabilitation centre in Vaalwater, which will benefit many youths who are struggling with addiction.

If you would like to sponsor school children by providing school shoes or washable sanitary pads, please click here

4th Food Parcel distribution in the Waterberg to help families cope during the Covid-19 Lockdown crisis

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Preparing food parcels for struggling families in the Waterberg

Since Covid-19 shut down the South African tourist industry in March, The Waterberg Trust has partnered with St John’s Church at 24 Rivers to make up food parcels for those needing help.

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Volunteers helping to prepare food parcels that provide needy families with basics

The project is overseen by NET’s nurse, Grace Ismail, who is sponsored by TWT. She has continued to meet with volunteers from the church, once a month, to purchase food from Chequers supermarket in Vaalwater, where it can be collected by the recipients.

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Nurse Grace supervising the distribution of food parcels in the Waterberg

By following up this distribution with home visits, Grace ensures that funds raised by The Waterberg Trust’s Covid-19 Appeal, and kind donations made locally, go to families who are struggling, including a teenage mum with twins and those unemployed due to Lockdown.

If you would like to help by making a donation – please click here

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The report for August states:

All previous beneficiaries have been visited. We found some have been able to return to work, others have received social relief grants, and some have been given retrenchment packages. New beneficiaries have been identified and assessed to confirm their status.

FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS:

Shambala Game Reserve, a local donor, requested a list of beneficiaries that needed food parcels.  This list was given to social workers for re-assessment. Beneficiaries with no passport or South African identification book could not be assisted due to lack documentation. From the list of 20 beneficiaries, social workers distributed to 8 families. We assisted the rest.

CHALLENGES:

  • The Department of Social Development does not provide food parcels for people without identification as they need to register beneficiaries in their system.
  • Some families abuse social grant money intended for buying food, using it for gambling and alcohol purchases instead.
  • Child-headed households without parents lack proper care and social support. 
  • Dysfunctional families who neglect their children often provide little or no support.
  • Loss of employment and lack of income to support a family.
  • Gender-based violence continues in many households leading to physical injury and damage to property.
  • School children can be seen on the streets of the township at inappropriate times. Some abuse alcohol and drugs instead of studying at home.
  • Some beneficiaries returned to work, but did not notify us as they still want to receive food parcels. This is why reassessment of each family needs to be conducted regularly.

PROGRESS:

Stakeholders have been helpful in supporting the community with food, clothing and shelter for the less privileged. These include the Social Development Services, private organizations (eg Shambala Game Reserve), individuals and religious or faith-based groups within the community. This is encouraging as we can work together. 

Schools have reopened and many learners have access to food provided by the school’s feeding scheme programme to ensure pupils get a meal and are able to concentrate in class.

FUTURE PLANS:

We will continue to distribute food parcels from the supermarket as it is convenient and a central point for beneficiaries.

We will continue liaising with stakeholders to avoid duplication of food parcel distribution.

We will continue to visit homes and families as required.

Groceries included in food parcels to help families cope during Lockdown

3rd Covid-19 Emergency Food Parcel Distribution in the Waterberg – July 2020

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– VOLUNTEERS AND BENEFICIARIES HELPING TO PACK FOOD PARCELS IN VAALWATER-

Thanks to our generous supporters, emergency food parcel distribution in the Waterberg has continued every month. Nurse Grace has conducted an assessment on how this is going, conducting home visits to beneficiaries. These are her photos and finding for the month of July 2020. We will be able to provide an update for activities in August soon.

Some recipients have managed to find a source of income or work and received a UIF payment to enable them to buy groceries for their family. Others still have no source of income or only work on certain days of the week when they are paid according to the hours worked. New beneficiaries have been identified including teenage mothers who depend on the child social grant.

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– SUPERVISED FOOD PARCEL DISTRIBUTION –

Kind donations were received in the form of clothes, sanitary pads and bedding, for which acknowledgements and thank you messages have been sent. These came from individuals, St John’s church members and The Fold children’s home. Those in need were grateful.

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This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.

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Knitted blankets were also distributed thanks to kind donated wool for the knitting club ladies.

CHALLENGES faced in the township of Leseding:

  • People spend money on alcohol instead of buying food for their families.
  • Gender-based violence.
  • School children roaming the streets – some get involved in crime and physical violence.
  • Child-headed homes with no parents to guide nor provide.
  • Patients with poor adherence due to lack of food and family support.
  • Foreign nationals with no identity nor family.
  • An expectancy of receiving food parcels regardless of employment.

However, many needy adults and children are benefiting enormously. More food parcels will be purchased when new list of beneficiaries is ready. If you wold like to make a donation to help provide for the poor, please click here.

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Report from Nurse Grace in Waterberg schools for the from June to August 2020

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RE: OPENING OF SCHOOLS

After two months of stringent lockdown, due to the Corvid-19 pandemic, schools in the Waterberg reopened on 6th June 2020 in a phased way, starting with grade 12 and 7, followed by grades 11 and 9. Other grades started on 10th August.

Both primary and secondary schools were required to meet operating standards to ensure safety. This involved checking Personal Protective Equipment was in place for both teachers and learners and making sure the school environment and set up of classrooms were able to accommodate a certain number of students.

Teachers made plans to rotate lessons depending on subjects. Each classroom holds 20 students and is sanitised regularly with social distancing observed. Each student received 2 washable face-masks.

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SCREENING AND SANITIZING

Temperatures are taken on daily basis and a register is signed for staff and all students. Screening for Corvid-19 symptoms and a questionnaire is completed every 2 weeks to ensure all learners are checked and those with ‘flu like symptoms are referred to the clinic for help and further assessment.

Orientation is provided for all learners on how they should behave during class. They are advised to take precautions at all times i.e. regular hand sanitizing, proper use of masks, and observing social distance at all times.

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CHALLENGES

  • Some schools were not ready as they had poor sanitation, no water and Personal Protective Equipment was not delivered on time.
  • Students not adhering to Corvid-19 precaution measures i.e. taking off masks, sitting in groups without social distance.
  • Primary School students find it difficult to wear masks for long and some lose them.
  • Absenteeism led to poor attendance. Others chose to learn at home using online lessons.
  • Vulnerable students who benefited from the feeding scheme were not able to have daily meals when phasing out excluded certain grades to avoid overcrowding.
  • Students not yet back at school get bored being at home. Some roam the streets engaging in bad behaviour like smoking, stealing alcohol and substance abuse.

PROGRESS

  • Learning continued well with all necessary protocols and time for teaching was extended to allow learners to catch up.
  • Mobile toilets were provided for surrounding schools which had poor sanitation.
  • Feeding scheme continue to provide meals for students.
  • Regular monitoring of schools by parents, the School Governing body (SGB) and Department of Education officials ensures students and staff are well protected.

MORE THAN 1000 STUDENTS WERE SCREENED – 360 FROM PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND 640 FROM MEETSHETSELHA AND LESEDING SECONDARY SCHOOLS. SCREENING STATISTICS ARE CAPTURED AND SENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CIRCUIT OFFICE FOR RECORD KEEPING AND REPORTING.

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~Mobile toilets for schools~

STATISTICS

Total number of students who came for consultation – 100

Medical issues15 (Depression, HIV, Pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, Asthma, Urinary tract Infection, Bilharzia, dental abscess, conjunctivitis and eczema)

Social Matters 50 (luck of food, dysfunctional families, poor living conditions, gender- based violence, alcohol and substance abuse)

Minor ailments 17 (headaches, menstrual pain, allergy, soft tissue injury, fatigue, dizziness and nausea)

Pregnant 12  (4 Meetshetshehla School, 6 Leseding and 2 from Mahlasedi primary school)

Counselling 6 (Adherence, Nutrition, HIV/STI preventative measures, access to contraceptives)

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FUTURE PLANS

To continue supporting those learners who are at home with study guides using television, radio broadcasting and a WhatsApp group for those who have phones.

Vulnerable students who benefit from the feeding scheme will receive weekly food parcels to ensure they have a meal during lockdown. Arrangements will be put in place for collection time and days.

Screening will continue for those attending school and those at home whenever the need arises or during home visits.

Psychological and emotional counselling will be provided for students as many are stressed due to change of curriculum and how to cope with the pandemic i.e. some are scared, feel unsafe or exhausted due to extended learning periods.

E-learning will benefit many kids as they will access whatever subjects they are attending using the app.

Phasing out of attending schools for certain grades will continue and more students will be able to return to school to catch up.

Schools are closed for two weeks and will re-open from 3rd and 10th August 2020

The rest of the students return from 24th August when winter is over but this depends on how stable the number of infection rate is.

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Compiled By: Grace Ismail (School nurse/Counsellor)