Category Archives: HIV prevention

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.

News of aid for the needy in the Waterberg

The donation of a hand-knitted jersey
The donation of a hand-knitted jersey

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.”

A gift of useful clothing

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.

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

CHALLENGES:

  • 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

A kind donation of mattresses

FUTURE PLANS:

  • 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.

If you are able to donate funds to help the needy in the Waterberg, please click her for further details.

Sister Grace delivering food and a blanket

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

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

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

EIMS sponsor Dignity Dreams sanitary pads for school pupils

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.

Verita Shikwambana, Andrew Smith, Sophie Neville, Ivy Rachele and School Nurse Grace Ismail at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater

On Thursday 24th January 2019, Andrew Smith of EMIS (Environmental Impact Management Services) in Johannesburg kindly drove Verita Shikwambana from the NGO Dignity Dreams up to Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater to meet Life Orientation teacher Ivy Rachele and School Nurse Grace Ismail.

Verita Shikwambana of  the not-for profit organisation Dignity Dreams

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.

Packs of 3 day time pads, 3 night time pads, a zip-lock bag and cotton carrier bag

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.’

Nurse Grace, TWT Trustee Sophie Neville and pupils with the packs of Dignity Dreams

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.

It costs approximately £10 to give one pack of six sanitary pads to a schoolgirl in the Waterberg and yet it can have life-changing consequences. If you would like to give one pack , or perhaps one pack a month, please click here for details on how to make a donatation.

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?

Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust based in the Waterberg

Dr Peter Farrant, who works with The Waterberg Trust

Nurse Grace at work in the schools of Vaalwater: Part 2

Nursing Sister Grace Ismail has sent us more photographs of her work in the secondary schools of Vaalwater in the Limpopo Province of South Africa:

~Examination couch with linen covers~

‘We received a donation of examination couch which is helping a lot when learners are feeling unwell and can rest before the family takes them to the clinic.

~Grade 8 pupil with chronic illness under diet supervision~

‘We received disposable sanitary pads and bras, which were distributed to leaners of Meetsetshehla and Leseding Secondary Schools. This helped our girl learners a lot and gave them opportunity of attending classes without any worry of menstrual challenges.’

~Girls who received donated sanitary pads~

‘Health education was conducted to all grade 8 learners about hygiene and communicable diseases. These are learners from both Meetsetshehla and Leseding Secondary Schools.’ It was a form of welcome, educating them on the importance of hygiene and prevention of infections in schools. ‘The team from the local government clinic who are involved in youth and gender based programs (Love Life) were also present during the sessions as motivational speakers.’

~Learners participating during class health talk~

 FUTURE PLANS:

  • ‘To reinforce early childhood development from primary school level and ensure the children are well-informed with various issues that will help them to cope in Secondary School.’
  • ‘Meetings with stakeholders will continue as they also contribute to support our learners i.e. The Social Development, Local Government Clinic, Social workers, Police and the Community at large.’
  • ‘To continue supporting girl learners with menstrual issues whenever we receive any donation of sanitary pads in order to keep them in school when menstruating.’
  • ‘To ensure that all the learners with HIV are taking their treatment and adhering to the appointment as scheduled from the clinic.’

~Transformed learner witnessing to students~

  • ‘To have our own library at the school where learners can utilize for study and do their homework. The library in our township is very small that learners are unable to fit in to search for relevant study information on internet and books because of congestion.’

~Women who prepare meals for more than 500 learners daily~

  • ‘Learners have a project called UBUNTU whereby they collect unused clothes from teachers and then donate to the needy in the community, presenting clothes to needy children’

~Donation of clothes to the needy children in the community~

Two pupils represented the school in Provincial competition held in Polokwane City. One boy came 1st in the high jump.~Two who excelled in athletics~

Sister Grace says, ‘I still have more work to do with primary schools next term.’

If you would like to make a donation to support Sister Grace in her work, please click here