Dr Peter Farrant says that Sister Grace continues to do excellent work at various schools in the community. “She is doing home based care, home visits to teenage mums, counselling and support of those struggling with substance abuse, those that are homeless and destitute. This report barely covers the surface of her activity. She attends the schools during school hours. I work with her in a supportive role and also supervise the treatment and therapy as well as monitor the monthly spending and examine the bank account each month.”
Sister Grace has continued to support those needing help and was able to monitor the sick. She distributed donated clothes and disposable sanitary pads to teenage girls.
Some previous beneficiaries have managed to get employed on farms, while others have been helped to start small businesses in poultry, livestock or informal trading by the Department of Agriculture’s subsidy to empower local community members. The beneficiaries who received support applied to the Department of Agriculture. In each and every location there’s a vegetable garden, chickens and livestock.
FOOD PARCELS WERE BOUGHT AND COLLECTED
DONATED CLOTHES AND SANITARY PADS.
MORE PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE ON POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
CLOTHES TO CHILDREN AND ADULTS IN LESEDING TOWNSHIP
The sale of alcohol and loud music in the township disrupts learners busy studying and preparing for exams.
The Department of Home Affairs is reluctant to renew work permits due to expire by December 2022 ,which causes job insecurity for foreigners.
Increase in numbers of teenage pregnancies. Babies are looked after by guardians at home but are vulnerable to malnutrition and illness.
Regular community theft by teenage youths who do not attend school and are under the influence of substance abuse and alcohol consumption
Increased prices of essential supplies including food makes it difficult for those with low incomes to provide for their families
Local job opportunities and Social Relief Grants continue to benefit the community.
Learners who go to school have access to daily meals from the schools feeding scheme.
Guests who visit the surrounding lodges have donated clothes and sanitary pads which have been distributed to those in need or to learners.
Locals are benefiting from a recycling project and are able to earn an income after selling the recyclable materials i.e. bottles, card boxes, paper and tins etc
A donation of £1 can provide enough wool to knit a hat for a child in need.
I would like to thank St John The Baptist Church at 24 Rivers, guests from various lodges and individuals who have contributed so much towards the Acts of Mercy Charity which continues to help many people from the community regardless of nationality or cultural beliefs. This has made a huge impact. May God bless you all.
Nursing Sister Grace’s salary is provided by The Waterberg Trust who can accept financial donations in the UK and redeem Gift Aid. You can find different ways of how to make a donation here. Do specify how you wish your donation to be spent, if you like.
Donations of bras and wool are much appreciated if you find yourself going to the Waterberg.
As Covid -19 restrictions have been relaxed, many people have returned to their daily routine. Some are employed, others are running small businesses selling farm produce, running hair salons, gardening or recycling. Chicken projects, funded by government vouchers amounting R2000 per person, help to generate income to buy food and essential needs for families.
Sister Grace says, “I reached out to those who really needed social support and have no source of income. I also supported one Matric learner with medication and 4 girls with Matric uniform (golf t-shirts). I donated some clothes to those in need, and baby wear to teenage mums.”
59 people received gifts of essential groceries and clothing this month
School feeding schemes continue to provide meals for learners with many gaining access to meals on daily basis. “We continue to issue basic food parcels to help those in need. Upon arrangement, beneficiaries normally collect their food parcel directly from the supermarket, while some send family members or friends to collect on their behalf.”
The knitting club continues to knit blankets, beanies and jerseys to bless those in need.
Shortage of supplies from the supermarkets. The regular contents of food parcels could not be found in one supermarket. We needed to shop around.
The price of food and other essentials has drastically increased and varies from one shop to another.
Huge families tend to run out of food. Some received two food parcels to enable them to last for a month.
Some had delayed Social Relief Grants, but this has now been rectified.
Dysfunctional families continue to abuse social grants by buying alcohol instead of food and essentials.
Leseding Township has become a hotspot of community theft and gender-based violence, especially in taverns. Three young men were brutally stabbed to death after a fight.
Most children below the age of 15 years are into substance abuse and alcohol consumption, skipping school.
Some individuals have come up with activities for the youth in our community such as sports and a fun run. This happens on weekly basis and children are able to spend time playing at the local park.
The Social Relief Grant has been extended, enabling those who apply to support their families.
Many small business owners received vouchers through government solidarity funds.
Disadvantaged girls continue to receive free sanitary pads during school holidays.
Sister Grace will continue to reach out to those in need and provide social support.
Stakeholders include local churches, Social Development, Community leaders and the local Police Station who inform us of the needy.
Sister Grace provides basic health care and methods of contraception in an attempt to reduce teenage pregnancies.
MANY THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO KEEP DONATING CLOTHES WHICH HELP THE NEEDY CHILDREN AND ADULTS
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. “
SCHOOL REPORT FROM APRIL – JUNE 2022
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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“
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.”
TOTAL NUMBER OF LEANERS SEEN INDIVIDUALLY: 120
PREGNANT: 5 – 3 at Meetsetshehla & 2 at Leseding High School.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Besides food parcels, some beneficiaries were in need of essential supplies like washing powder, bath soap, clothes and nutritional supplements.
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.
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“
Please see our DONATE page for other ways of giving. We welcome fundraising activities and have some ideas here.
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 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
BENEFICIARIES RECEIVED DONATED CLOTHES, BABY THINGS AND SANITARY PADS FOR SCHOOL GIRLS
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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.
Even very small amounts of money go a long way to help the people of the Waterberg and enable learners to achieve their dreams.
The work of The Waterberg Trust is being added by a Knitting Club in Vaalwater who have been making blankets and clothing for the needy. Please let us know if you would like to donate money for us to purchase wool, at a reduced price, in the comments below.
ACTS OF MERCY REPORT DECEMBER 2021
Dr Peter Farrant writes to say: “Grace has been busy in the community as you will see. We were able to distribute some seven bed bases and mattresses to deserving people…a lodge in Welgevonden was up grading, and a member of our community assisted with mattresses. Food inflation is a significant problem. The support is therefore needed. Many thanks for the support you give…it is greatly appreciated.”
Upon identifying those in need Sister Grace bought food parcels and essential supplies during the festive season. She writes to say: “I did my normal assessments in a different way through telephonically and referrals from the community due the rising numbers of Covid 19 cases… This time I did not invite more people to the supermarket but bought food and sent volunteers to deliver it to avoid overcrowding.” She supported a grieving family, who sadly lost a teenager, with a food parcel as the mother is unemployed and had no source of income.
We had 78 beneficiaries this month.
Neglected family members being left without any support, food or shelter. Some beneficiaries abuse social grants intended for buying food. Instead they use the money to buy alcohol or for gambling, which means they have no food for their family
Increase in alcohol and substance abuse leading to Gender Based Violence and Community theft
Unattended children roaming the streets. One child aged two years was found on the street alone. He was handed over to the local police station for identification as he couldn’t talk.
Some elderly parents live alone without primary caregivers and some of are on medication which needs supervision.
Poor adherence in some mentally ill patients. They do not understand the proper dosage for their treatment
To ensure that the community, various church leaders and other stakeholders are involved in the Acts of Mercy Activities. i.e. to assist those who are homeless, reunite homeless people with their families and provide appropriate shelter.
The knitting club will continue to knit blankets and warm beanies before winter.
Sister Grace will engage with families who are neglecting their chronically ill patients and encourage them to support, provide basic needs and ensure they take their medication regularly, as prescribed.
She will continue to educate families about the importance of being responsible, help them to understand the purpose of social grants, and to refer those with ID documents to Social Development to be registered in the system.
She would like to express appreciation all those who donated clothes, sanitary pads, beds and finances to the Acts of Mercy.
We would like to thank local people for their kind donations of food, clothing and household items.
The Board of The Waterberg Trust met this week to review projects being supported in the Waterberg region of South Africa.
One of the Trustees, who had just returned from a visit, was able to report that Sister Grace has been busy looking after people’s health and welfare in schools and the wider community. One of her objectives is to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, which take girls out of school and entrench poverty.
The Knitting Club have been busy producing the most beautiful blankets, hats and shawls, providing comfort for the very young and very old in the Waterberg. Sister Grace distributes these while making home visits when she can check that patients are taking their medication and have enough to eat.
Thanks to our supporters’ kind donations, The Waterberg Trust continues to work in partnership with St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative to help those in need through the pandemic.
Volunteers help purchase and pack food parcels for about fifty individuals within family groups.
These are collected from outside the local super market by friends or relatives of the needy. Local farmers donate food.
Food for the school nutrition project is being supplemented with vegetables grown in school veggie gardens by the Environmental Clubs.
TWT has set up a ‘Dignity Dreams Club’ to raise funds to purchase eco-packs of washable sanitary pads for every girl entering secondary education. This is an important, low-cost initiative that gives girls confidence and means they do not miss lessons. Some were taking absence from school for five days a month.
The pads come with a book for teachers and are distributed with a structured sex-education talk about puberty. TWT is aiming to provide 400 packs a year at a cost of £15 each. The pads are carefully made by Dignity Dreams, a non-profit organization in Pretoria who provide work for the disadvantaged. They last four years. If you would like to help by making a small donation, please click here
Nursing Sister Grace writes, “I worked with the Social Development team, making home visits and registering those in need of social support, while helping those who are eligible to apply for the Social Relief Distress Grant (SRD). Many people were successfully registered and will be able to receive the grant as planned by the Government. Foreign nationals who have valid identification passports were also registered. During the registration process the Department of Social Development handed out food parcels to identified families and those with passports. Political leaders also distributed clothes, blankets and sanitary pads to the community.”
I REFERRED 25 UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE TO REGISTER FOR A SOCIAL RELIEF GRANT WHICH WAS SUCCESSFUL AND 15 WILL RECEIVE MONTHLY FOOD PARCELS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
SCHOOL CHILDREN CONTINUE TO ACCESS DAILY MEALS FROM THE SCHOOL FEEDING SCHEMES
“Employment opportunities were created in our municipality. Members of the community, including youth, were hired by the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) to work in different allocated sectors. This helps many families receive an income. More informal traders are selling farm produce and other items. Some families have vegetable gardens on their premises, which help to generate income and supplement meals.”
Essential supplies and costs have increased, which leads to many families running out of food before the month end.
Dysfunctional families don’t buy food for their dependents in spite of having an income.
An elderly man, the uncle of a mentally ill beneficiary who is under our monthly care and support, was physically beaten and injured by his son. The matter was reported to the local police for further investigation.
Alcohol consumption is a huge problem. Some people buy alcohol rather than food.
Increase in teenage pregnancy
FOOD PARCELS WERE DISTRIBUTED TO 58 INDIVIDUALS IDENTIFIED AS NEEDY
BENEFICIARIES PACK THEIR OWN FOOD PARCELS. THOSE WHO CAN’T REACH THE SUPERMARKET HAVE THEIRS DELIVERED BY VOLUNTEERS
We continue to knit blankets, jerseys and shawls, which are distributed to those in need. A big thank you to the dedicated ladies who do the knitting. Wool is purchased with money kindly donated by supporters.
Sister Grace says, “I reached out to the community and encouraged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The number of those receiving the vaccine has been amazing for both adults and youth. The local clinic keeps me posted on the availability of vaccines. I stress the importance of taking treatment for chronic conditions, as prescribed and educate family members on health, basic hygiene and access to contraceptives for teenagers.”
Donations, however modest, are hugely appreciated. Funds are spent very carefully. If you would like to help support the poor in the Waterberg, please click here
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.
Schooling continued without interruptions or problems.
Grade 12’s wrote their examinations successfully.
Social media communication with parents from certain schools helps circulate info, using a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page.
Media learning (through TV and radio) helps learners to study whilst at home.
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.
CHALLENGES encountered from September to December 2020
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.
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.
Learners who are abusing drugs are finding it hard to cope with study as they are tired, feel weak and lack concentration.
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) .
Gender-based violence has increased among learners due to petty issues. Those found guilty go to a disciplinary hearing.
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.
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
Some learners remove their masks when in class and some forget them at home.
No physical activities for learners to keep them busy due to the Corvid restrictions e.g. Sports, gardening and athletics
Little ones from Primary Schools are not coping with wearing of masks and need close assistance.
Some learners are not coping with the phasing of school attendance programme, requiring them to stay at home during rotational schedules.
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.
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.
To continue supporting learners who are faced with various challenges
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
School Nurse Grace Ismail of the Northern Education Trust, whose salary is provided by The Waterberg Trust, reported that pupils in the Waterberg were struggling to find the money to buy sanitary towels. In 2018, The Waterberg Trust were able to donate a number of disposable pads but a permanent solution needed to be found. Some girls were missing more than five days of lessons a month and their academic results were being effected.
After being a short meeting with the Headmaster, Verita Shikwambana of Dignity Dreams gave a talk on menstrual health to about ninety schoolgirls before introducing the concept of eco-friendly, washable sanitary pads.
Dignity Dreams manufacture multi-use pads that are designed to be washed in cold water with Sunlight soap, rinsed in salt water and dried in the sun. The packs of six are carefully made by hand and last four or five years. Lessons need no longer be missed. Girls gain in confidence and are free to achieve their potential in life.
Artist Susie Airy, who has raised funds for TWT by selling her paintings, helped to distribute one pack to each learner. ‘I wish my daughters could have heard such an interesting talk when they were at school,’ she said later. ‘It was wonderful to take part in this project.’
The girls were amazed to hear that the packs were theirs to keep and for them alone. Four weeks after this talk, Nurse Grace reported:
“I have received positive results from 75 girls who said the pads are working well without any problems…. many girls at Meetshetshela are no longer absent because of menstrual issues. Girls are also reading the book which Dignity Dreams left, entitled MY BODY #Noshame which talks about puberty, pre-menstrual syndrome, hygiene, period pain and exercises to relieve cramps during menstruation. The remaining learners from grade 10 to 12 will need 180 packs.”
Nurse Grace wants to see if the pads can be made locally. Dignity Dreams provide lessons for those keen to sew at home as a small business initiative and encourage tailors to sell to adults.
Very many thanks to Andrew Smith of Environmental Impact Management Services who sponsored 96 packs and drove the consignment up from Pretoria, along with the speaker. The Waterberg Trust was able to match his donation to provide a total of 210 packs so all the girls in Grades 8 and 9 could be equipped. The other state secondary school in the Waterberg also has girls who are also in need of sanitary pads and of course new girls arrive every year. Horizon Horseback Safaris have kindly given a donation of disposable pads to help keep the girls supplied in the short-term.
We noticed that Nurse Grace needs a hospital screen on wheels, so that she can conduct examinations in private. She also needs a new office chair or these old ones to be repaired. Is there anyone in Vaalwater who could help?