Category Archives: Education

Update on care for the needy in the Waterberg, South Africa

Sister Grace monitoring the development of a baby

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.

Care for the elderly

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.

Sister Grace distributing hand-knitted blankets

Volunteers help purchase and pack food parcels for about fifty individuals within family groups.

Food parcels donated to the needy in the Waterberg

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.

Food parcels being collected

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.

Sister Grace explains how to care for washable sanitary pads.

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

For a full list of projects supported by TWT, please click here.

Handmade blanket and hat

TWT donors enable learners in the Waterberg to go on a residental course at Lapalala Wilderness School

Thanks to The Waterberg Trust supporters who made this life-changing experience possible

‘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.

Learners from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater learning about rivers

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.

Students learn about recycling, biodiversity and gain practical help if they are seeking a career in tourism and wildlife conservation. For further details of the course, please see Lapalala Wilderness School’s website here.

Learning to identify plants of the Waterberg. There are approx 340 different species of trees in the area.
  • 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

Leaners on a game drive through Lapalala Wilderness where they saw lion and a variety of antelope

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.’

Students learning about nature conservation and the job opportunities in tourism and wildlife management

‘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.’

Leadership and communication skills are nurtured on each course.

‘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.’

Thank you letters from some of the students

The children were truly grateful for the opportunity and wrote to thank the director of Lapalala Wilderness School:

A letter written 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.

Back at school: some of the students who attended the Lapalala Wilderness course, with Sister Grace
Extending knowledge learned at Lapalala Wilderness in the school veggie garden established by the TWT corporate sponsor in South Africa: Environmental Impact Management Services.

For further details about Lapalala Wilderness School, please click here

Can you join the Dignity Dreams Club?

School nurse Sister Grace distributing packs of Dignity Dreams washable sanitary pads for schoolgirls

Could you change a schoolgirl’s future?

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.

Click here for our page on ways of making a donation

Sister Grace using a book on how to use the pads

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.

The book commissioned by Dignity Dreams for teachers to use when distributing the pads

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.

Sister Grace showing pupils how the washable pads work

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.

Another class of secondary schoolgirls received a pack of re-useable pads

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.

Speaker Verita Shikwambana from Dignity Dreams

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.

A note of thanks from one of the students

Challenges facing secondary schools in the Waterberg

Nursing Sister Grace who works in schools of the Waterberg

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:

Sister Grace with 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.

New desks being delivered to Meetsetshehla Secondary School

Teachers attended workshop about preparation of exams and invigilation.

Feeding scheme provides meals for about 350 learners daily

TRAINING:  

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.

Effort being recognised

STATISTICS: TOTAL NUMBER CONSULTED INDIVIDUALLY IS 151 (HIGH SCHOOLS ONLY)

PREGNANT – 5 (3 Meetsetshehla & 2 Leseding High School)

ASTHMATIC – 3  

COUNSELING – 45 (Psychological, Adherence to treatment, Bereavement, Substance abuse & HIV/STI)

MENSTRUAL ISUUES – 60 (provided with disposable pads)

OBESITY – 6 (referred to dietician)

CONTRACEPTIVES – 32 (referred to the clinic for preventive plans)

Schools closed from 1st October and will re-open 0n 11th October 2021 except for the grade 12’s who will continue to attend extra lessons.

Thank you so much for your continued support. If you would like to make a donation to support this work, please click here for further details.

Sister Grace consulting pupils in school

Helping the needy in the Waterberg

Sister Grace in the Waterberg

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT AUGUST 2021

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.”

Youth benefiting from the scheme

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.”

CHALLENGES:

  • 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

Acts of Mercy food parcels, August 2021

BENEFICIARIES PACK THEIR OWN FOOD PARCELS. THOSE WHO CAN’T REACH THE SUPERMARKET HAVE THEIRS DELIVERED BY VOLUNTEERS

Fewer food parcels were distributed than in previous months thanks to an increase in Social Relief Distress Grants

KNITTING CLUB

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.

One of the completed blankets ready to be donated.

HEALTH EDUCATION:

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

A beneficiary collecting their food parcel

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)

SUPPORTING LETHABO KID’S CLUB 2015-2021

Lethabo Kid’s Club – a place of fun, food and life lessons has been closed due to Covid Lockdown. They usually come running every Wednesday – 300 to 700 children each week.  It is their special day where they know they ‘belong’. Lethabo means ‘happiness’.

The Waterberg Trust has been supporting Lethabo Kid’s Club’s ‘Back to School’ project since 2015. The aim is to ensure every child is registered to go to school at the beginning of the school year in January by whipping up enthusiasm and ensuring they are equipped with school uniform.

The foundation also aims to:

  1. Teach the children about Jesus, and that He loves them
  2. Provide good nourishing food to supplement sometimes meager diets.

Exciting Bible Stories that teach ‘Jesus loves you’ and life lessons are taught by the older youth and young adults.

Yummy peanut butter and jam sandwiches and fresh farm milk satisfy their hungry tummies. Many may not have had anything to eat all day and this is after school. Eager hands and anxious faces reach out for food.

Special days during the year are ‘Sausage Roll Day’ where each child gets his own sausage roll, yogurt and cool drink. These are lovingly prepared by the local Academy who love participating in this gift to the children. At Christmastime, we give each child a t-shirt, bright and colorful with a special logo on it, such as, “Jesus loves you”, “My best friend is Jesus”, and “Jesus is my Good Shepherd” Psalm 23, and a little lamb. All year, we see older and new t-shirts around the community and at Kid’s Club.

Our biggest project the past few years has been buying school clothes. With so many children in need, we specify ‘one’ thing each – most need shoes or a new school bag. This is so important to them as they are often mocked by other children if their shoes are broken or their shirts are too small or torn. If we determine that a child has a greater need, we buy the whole kit for him. This huge project is sponsored by The Waterberg Trust (TWT) with much love.

Hard-wearing school shoes costing under £10 a pair

Assisting high school matriculants with tertiary studies is a natural outgrowth of Kid’s Club.  Most of these students have grown up in Lethabo Kid’s Club and now are looking forward to getting their futures established. Our organization for this is The Kholofelo Association, ‘Giving Hope to Youth” –  a registered NPO in South Africa. Students are assisted with school fees, accommodation, food and transport where necessary. We’re seeing wonderful growth in them as young adults studying diligently and preparing for jobs as chefs, in tourism, electrical engineering, child care, office management and IT studies. While their courses are not on a university level, they do give a ‘step up’ in qualifying for a job. With only a High School Matric and no experience, they otherwise find themselves without hope.

We’ve spent more than 20 years giving and loving children and youth! Now we see many as young adults with jobs. They always come back to their ‘roots’ at Lethabo Kid’s Club. There is still that sense of ‘belonging’.

We are confident that the children and youth are being taught life lessons which will stay with them all their lives. Will you join us in changing lives! There are a number of different ways you can donate here

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

Nurse Grace has been making preparations as schools open in the Waterberg

Nurse Grace profile picture in TWT uniform 2020~School nurse, Sister Grace Ismail~

Schools in South Africa re-opened today, bringing a number of challenges in the light of Covid-19.

Nurse Grace has written to say, “I have been busy preparing schools, to ensure classrooms are cleaned and sanitised, also to plan the screening area for learners.” Masks are obligatory for all – by law.

Ever since schools in South Africa closed in March due to shielding, Sister Grace has been helping pupils with their studies at home. “I am attending to issues and challenges presented by learners. I have been in contact with the social development services to seek help for problems in the community.”

Sister Grace helping learners with studies through Lockdown

-Home schooling in the Waterberg –

Thanks to over fifty kind donors in the UK, who responded to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 emergency appeal, Grace has been co-coordinating the procurement and distribution of food parcels to the needy, working with volunteers from St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative. You can read more about this here.

Nurse Grace buying groceries for food parcels

-Nurse Grace purchasing groceries for food parcel donation- 

Grace writes: “The next purchase will second week of June.” If you would like to help with the purchase of food parcels by making a donation, however small, please click here for The Waterberg Trust’s Justgiving site or here to send a cheque.

Winter is on its way, with clear sunny days but temperatures dropping radically at night. “I have been handling clothes to the community which are donated by Horizon and Bulls Eye”. She has also been distributing knitted blankets. “My targets are school children and vulnerable elderly.”

Grace has now returned to work in the schools of the Waterberg, including Meetsetshehla Secondary School, where she is based. If you would like to read more about her work, please click here.

Nurse Grace at Meetsetshehla School in TWT uniform

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.