Category Archives: Education

An end to period poverty in schools of the Waterberg in South Africa

Learners receiving a donation of sanitary pads so they do not miss lessons. They have each received a set of eco-pads with advice that has transformed their lives.

We have good news from the Limpopo Province of South Africa where the school nurse, Grace Ismail says the donation of washable sanitary towels, “has made a huge impact and girls no longer miss classes due to menstrual issues.”

The Northern Education Trust write from the Waterberg to say:

“Sr Grace Ismail is continuing to do a great job with Meetsetshehla School, Leseding High School and other feeder schools.  We look forward to seeing her make a significant change in the lives of these learners. We so appreciate your generosity and continued support and encouragement over the years as we continue to strive to provide the best possible education for the poorest of the poor. “

Accepting a donation of school bags

SCHOOL REPORT FROM APRIL – JUNE 2022

DAILY TASKS:  

South African education is at low ebb but after noticing that the numbers of Corvid–19 had declined, the Department of Education decided all schools should return to full daily attendance with daily screening of learners and teachers who all wear masks in classrooms.

“We noticed a few teachers at Primary schools tested positive with minimal symptoms which cleared within a short period. All grade 12’s are attending classes from Monday – Saturday to ensure they are well prepared before writing their final year examinations. All other grades wrote mid-year exams, which will enable them to be promoted to the next grade.”

The Department of Education has allocated examination centre numbers for the final year learners in all High Schools. Sister Grace says, “During this hectic time, I come across learners who are depressed, anxious or have fatigue due to the school workload. However, I provide pre-exam counseling about coping and how best they can utilize time when studying. Dedicated teachers are working very hard to support learners with extra lessons after school and on weekends, hoping for good results at the end of the year.”

Sister Grace

PROGRESS:

  • Extra teachers have been employed to fill up the gaps left by those who have relocated.
  • Teachers from two High Schools work together at weekends to provide extra lessons.
  • Stakeholders and the School Governing Body visit schools regularly to address issues faced by learners and encourage them about importance of study and passing exams.
  • There are positive changes at Meetsetshehla Secondary School after the appointment of an Acting Principal and Head of Department who ensure leaners are getting support.
  • All learners have access to food from the feeding scheme. This helps those who come to school without eating.
Community members growing food for the school feeding scheme

CHALLENGES:

  • Inadequate toilets: some schools are using mobile toilets and others a school pit latrine. 10 mobile toilets at Meetsetshehla Secondary School are not enough.
  • Primary Schools are overcrowded with 1,700 to 1,900 learners, which makes it difficult for some to understand the teacher .
  • Teenage mums miss classes as they need to stay home to look after their babies.
  • Many school leavers have no access bursaries for University or College and are just sitting at home despite having done well at school.
A learner who is bravely coming for counseling for substance abuse
  • Addiction to substance abuse and alcohol.
  • Learners with depression have suicidal thoughts as they don’t want to share their challenges nor speak out. I provide psychosocial counseling
  • Overaged learners are not coping in the junior classes. They have repeated more than three times without progressing.
  • Fuel is needed for the school nurse – She has to visit different schools and learners at home such as teenage moms and needs to collect medication from the clinic.
Learners at Meesetshela Secondary School prepare seed beds before planting veggies

SCHOOL VEGETABLE GARDENS FOR MOKOLO PRIMARY SCHOOL AND MEETSETSHELA HIGH SCHOOL ARE PROVING SUCCESSFUL. NUTRITION IS KEY TO LEARNERS.

The Head of Department is willing to reinstate a Young Christians’ Prayer Club where they can have time of prayer with learners to empower them spiritually and prepare them for challenges such as a court hearing faced by a victim of rape.

A pregnant learner receiving a donation of baby clothes

MATERIAL SUPPORT:

“I received various items which were donated to learners in the form of clothes, school bags and disposable sanitary pads. Female learners are no longer having challenges due to menstrual issues as they come to my office whenever they need help.”

“SOME OF THE LEARNERS RECEIVED DONATED ITEMS – THEY WERE SO GRATEFUL

Some of the clothing donated to primary schools this winter

MEETINGS:

Sister Grace says, “I attended meetings with various stakeholders from different organizations about issues of education in surrounding schools, bullying and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and substance abuse, which has affected youth and many family members. i.e. Victim support, the local Police Station, Environmental and awareness teams, the Mayor, church leaders and community leaders.”

“At the end of the meetings all participants agreed on how best they can support and protect youth especially those still at school. There are reports of insecurity for learners going to school as criminals hide in the bushes and attempt to snatch their phones or rape girls. The local municipality will consider clearing the tall grass to ensure the safety of the learners.”

A learner expecting a baby receives a donation

STATISTICS:

TOTAL NUMBER OF LEANERS SEEN INDIVIDUALLY: 120

PREGNANT: 5 – 3 at Meetsetshehla & 2 at Leseding High School.

MEDICAL: 20 – Asthma, Epilepsy, Arthritis, depression, chronic nasal bleeding & HIV.

SOCIAL ISSUES: 30 – Poor family support, improper home environment, alcoholic parents & no food at home.

MINOR ISSUES: 20 – Menstruation, common colds, headaches, toothache, dizziness, rashes.

ADHERENCE SUPPORT: 10 – ARVS, Epilepsy, asthma, antidepressant & HIV medications.

COUNSELING: 15 – Adherence to chronic meds, withdrawal methods of alcohol & substances, bereavement, and post traumatic stress counseling after sexual abuse.

CONTRACEPTIVES: 20 – Referred to access contraceptives from the local clinic.

NOTE: Numbers declined as learners were writing exams and some stayed at home to study.

Swollen hands make it difficult for this learner to hold a pencil

FUTURE PLANS:

To continue to monitor and support learners during the holidays and check- up on boys who have been referred for medical circumcision, which will be performed by the local clinic.

To continue to liaise with teachers who are secondary care givers who alert the nurse if there is an urgent matter to be addressed.

To continue to distribute washable sanitary pads and other donations.

A gift of school bags

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Sister Grace says, “I would like to thank Doctor Farrant for always being there whenever I have sick learners who need to be seen urgently. He makes time to see and examine them at no cost from his consulting room.”

“To my employers and all the sponsors, may you receive my gratitude for all the effort to ensure I have a secure job to be able to support my family.”

Schools are closed for 3 weeks but Matric learners will continue to attend extra classes.

Compiled by: Grace

School vegetable gardens are doing well

Kind donations supporting the needy in the Waterberg region of South Africa

The good news is that we are bing able to make a huge difference to the lives of ordinary people in the Waterberg by giving advice, making connections and providing those in need with specific donations.

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT FOR MARCH AND APRIL 2022

Now lockdown restrictions have been eased, many of our former beneficiaries are back at work. Some are engaged in informal trading, selling farm produce or clothes. Others are farming poultry or working in hair salons and Spaza shops. And many are receiving Social Relief Grants and food parcels from the Social Development, which are being delivered to the community. School children benefit from the feeding schemes on daily basis.

Food parcels for the needy in rural South Africa
Food parcels for the needy in rural South Africa

Besides food parcels, some beneficiaries were in need of essential supplies like washing powder, bath soap, clothes and nutritional supplements.

CHALLENGES:

  • We are seeing improper use of social grants meant to buy food for families
  • Alcohol and substance abuse among youth and adults is leading to Gender Based Violence. Fighting in beer taverns has resulted in the loss of two young male teenagers’ lives.
  • Community theft is on the rise. Houses are broken into and goods stolen. People feel insecure when walking alone, in fear of being attacked.
  • Increased unemployed youth leads to lack of productivity, resulting in drinking alcohol, teenage pregnancy and family disputes.
  • Increase in fuel prices have caused price fluctuation of food, transport and clothing.
  • Many roads have been severely damaged due to heavy rains. It is difficult to reach out to those in need of proper assessment and support.
TWT wants to equip every schoolgirl in the Waterberg with eco-sanitary wear so they do not miss lessons

PROGRESS:

  • Jobs have been created and some beneficiaries are able to provide for their families.
  • The Government’s solidarity fund has helped some community members by providing them with free vouchers to start poultry projects and other small businesses, which can help to generate income to support families. The vouchers are worth R2000 per beneficiary.
  • Many community members have had the Covid-19 vaccine and are aware of preventative measures and hygiene protocols.

Sister Grace says, “MANY THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO DONATED VARIOUS ITEMS WHICH BENEFITED THOSE IN NEED, MAY GOD GREATLY BLESS YOU ALL

If you are able to donate funds, The Waterberg Trust has a Justgiving page here.

Learners working in a school vegetable garden. Produce is used in the school feeding scheme

Please see our DONATE page for other ways of giving. We welcome fundraising activities and have some ideas here.

Would you be able to raise funds for school shoes? It would ensure children enter primary school at the age of six instead of wandering the streets.

MEETINGS:

Sister Grace attended meetings with the Victim Support Unit based at the local police station, and an event to keep the community informed about Gender Based Violence and to ensure there is unity and teamwork when it comes to protection of children, women and vulnerable people. A 56 year old man was arrested for sexually abusing a 13 year old mentally ill girl several times. The girl continues to attend school as they await for court ruling.

“I also attended a meeting with the department of Social Development and SASSA who discussed social grants applications, food parcels and support needed for the homeless. We agreed that beneficiaries who qualify for food parcels may be referred to their office for further help.”

She has asked the Community to take part in identifying those in need of help so that they can receive timely support.

Sister Grace working in schools of the Waterberg under Dr Peter Farrant

FUTURE PLANS:

  • Sister Grace will continue to reach out to those in need.
  • She will continue to work with stake holders to ensure everyone supports each other and avoid duplication.
  • She will continue to educate family members on basic health, where to access essential services and provide ongoing treatment, support and counseling to those in need.
  • Food parcel distribution continues

Volunteers purchase and distribute monthly food parcels to those in need. This is what each one looked like this month
A kind donation of essentials for a mother and baby made recently

BENEFICIARIES RECEIVED DONATED CLOTHES, BABY THINGS AND SANITARY PADS FOR SCHOOL GIRLS

Schoolgirls receiving sanitary protection this month. We need to ensure they do not miss lessons.

News from schools of the Waterberg

SCHOOL REPORT FROM JANUARY TO MARCH 2022

Dr Peter Farrant writes to say, “Thank you for your continued support…it is GREATLY appreciated!” There is a significant shortage of teachers, which is concerning, and never-ending social and medical needs. He says “Sister Grace is a stable rock in the school, which is a huge benefit to the scholars.”

LEARNERS BEING SCREENED BEFORE CLASS. THOSE WITH CHICKEN POX or SCABIES ARE SENT HOME

All learners returned to school on full-time basis this term with Covid-19 protocols observed. Between 600–1200 learners are screened daily. Learners continue to wear masks and are sanitised upon arrival. Outdoor activities are allowed in all schools and pupils participate in various athletics, which increases physical fitness. The infection rate has reduced as many staff members and learners have had Covid-19 vaccines.

Only two primary schools had Covid-19 positive cases among staff members, and control measures were undertaken. 

CHALLENGES:

ADDRESSING LEARNERS ON DANGERS OF GENGER BASED VIOLENCE AND BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY
  • Shortage of staff, as a result of teachers relocating or being promoted in different educational sectors, has prevented learners from catching up academically. Pupils can spend a whole day without being taught.
  • Poor sanitation due to inadequate toilets for the huge numbers of learners
  • Overcrowding now all learners are fully attending school: 42 learners or more per class
  • Pregnant learners continue to hide. Their condition is only noticed during routine screening when they reach their 2nd or 3rd  trimester. Daily monitoring, counselling and support are then provided.
  • Overaged learners, who have repeated courses more than 3 times, are stuck in the same grade and can become bad influencers. Some are involved in theft of other learner’s valuables, which makes pupils feel unsafe.
  • Undisciplined learners come to school to disrupt others. Some are under the influence of alcohol. (Parents have been called to a hearing.)
  • Hysteric attacks in girls, which they believe was related to ancestral calling. These were controlled with the involvement of parents

PROGRESS:

  • Improved Matric pass rate for Meetsetshehla Secondary School of 78% – compared to 63% in 2020 and Leseding High School  73 %.
  • Senior learners continue to attend extra classes at weekends and during the holidays.
  • The employment of general workers and teacher assistants in schools has helped to keep school premises clean. Teachers are assisted with administration and book keeping. The Job Creation Scheme was a Government initiative to ensure youth are employed and equipped with skills by giving them a year’s contract in schools.
  • Feeding schemes continue to provide daily meals to learners many of whom come to school without eating.
  • The local education circuit office managed to source temporary staff to fill teaching gaps while schools awaited formal advertising of vacant posts
  • Sister Grace spoke to classes about teenage pregnancy, menstrual issues, contraceptives, cyberbullying, along with the dangers of substance abuse and its effect.

I AM ALSO INVOLVED IN A RECYCLING PROJECT OF BOTTLES, PAPER AND CARDBOX WHICH ARE THEN COLLECTED AND SOLD TO THE LOCAL RECYCLING COMPANY. THIS PROJECT HELPS TO EMPOWER THOSE UNEMPLOYED TO EARN EXTRA INCOME THROUGH WASTE MANAGEMENT. A TRUCK COMES TO FETCH RECYCLABLES WHEN BAGS ARE FULL.”

STATISTICS: TOTAL NUMBER OF THOSE SEEN INDIVIDUALLY: 167

PREGNANT – 20 (12 from Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 8 Leseding High School)

MEDICAL ISSUES – 8 : Asthma, Chicken pox, Herpes Zoster, Epilepsy, Dental infection and HIV

MINOR ISSUES – 55 : Menstrual issues, abdominal cramps, headaches, sports injuries and allergies

SOCIAL PROBLEMS – 20 :Due to poor family support, obesity due to improper diet, lack of funds to access a rehabilitation centre, and unhealthy living conditions, which distract pupils from studying.

PSYCHOLOGICAL – 10 : 6 cases of hysteria, 2 rape victims, 2 grieving the loss of loved ones, plus cases of abuse.

ADHERENCE COUNSELING – 25 : HIV medication, Epilepsy and depression.

CONTRACEPTIVES – 29 cases referred to access various methods of contraception

Sister Grace in the Waterberg

FUTURE PLANS:

  • I will continue to educate learners’ about the risks of teenage pregnancy, reproductive and sexual health, sexual transmitted infections and preventative measures.
  • I will invite stakeholders from the local government clinic who run youth friendly programs to motivate our learners and to encourage more girls to access different contraceptives
  • I will regularly meet up with security personnel who can assist with learners’ safety due to increasing number of drug addicts who hide in the bushes and want to commit crimes like raping girls and snatching phones or school essentials.  One 16 year-old girl was raped on her way to school. She’s currently receiving medical care and psychological counseling from the local clinic.

Schools are closed for 2 weeks from the 18th March and re-open on the 4th April 2022

Explaining how to use washable sanitary pads

If you would like to help The Waterberg Trust finance this amazing work, you can find details or who to contact and how to make a donation here.

MANY THANKS!

Even very small amounts of money go a long way to help the people of the Waterberg and enable learners to achieve their dreams.

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