Thanks to our generous supporters, emergency food parcel distribution in the Waterberg has continued every month. Nurse Grace has conducted an assessment on how this is going, conducting home visits to beneficiaries. These are her photos and finding for the month of July 2020. We will be able to provide an update for activities in August soon.
Some recipients have managed to find a source of income or work and received a UIF payment to enable them to buy groceries for their family. Others still have no source of income or only work on certain days of the week when they are paid according to the hours worked. New beneficiaries have been identified including teenage mothers who depend on the child social grant.
Kind donations were received in the form of clothes, sanitary pads and bedding, for which acknowledgements and thank you messages have been sent. These came from individuals, St John’s church members and The Fold children’s home. Those in need were grateful.
This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.
Knitted blankets were also distributed thanks to kind donated wool for the knitting club ladies.
CHALLENGES faced in the township of Leseding:
People spend money on alcohol instead of buying food for their families.
School children roaming the streets – some get involved in crime and physical violence.
Child-headed homes with no parents to guide nor provide.
Patients with poor adherence due to lack of food and family support.
Foreign nationals with no identity nor family.
An expectancy of receiving food parcels regardless of employment.
However, many needy adults and children are benefiting enormously. More food parcels will be purchased when new list of beneficiaries is ready. If you wold like to make a donation to help provide for the poor, please click here.
Since the rural population of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa relies heavily on tourism, many people have been suffering from lack of income during Lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Waterberg Trust has launched a Covid-19 Emergency Appeal to raise funds to provide those in extremis with basic food so they can feed their dependents.
TWT has partnered with the Church of St John the Baptist who have been raising funds locally and providing volunteers to deliver nutritious food parcels consisting of 10 Kg Mealie meal – the staple carbohydrate, 2 Kg sugar, tins of fish in tomato sauce, tins of baked beans, 2 litres cooking oil, 7 Kg potatoes, 1 Kg packet of powdered milk, 250g teabags and packets of Koro Krunch. The plan was to include 2kgs of flour, but it was out of stock, so a bottle of mayonnaise was added instead.
In June 2020, we have been able to do the same again but, with winter pressing in, we need more funds to keep going. No one in the area has contracted Covid-19 but food security is an issue and the recipients and deeply grateful:
“Can’t thank you enough for what you have done.” Karabo
“Thank you for the food parcel.” Priscilla
“Thank you for always remembering me at this difficult time.” Lizzy
Nurse Grace who is managing the project reports:
ACTS OF MERCY REPORT FOR JUNE 2020
Follow-up home visits were conducted to those who received food parcels to check if there is any income or job opportunities for them. Some had returned to work and some were doing business, whilst some are still struggling to get income and support their families.
New families have been identified and added to the beneficiary list. Social development also provided a list for those in urgent need of food parcels. School children in certain grades are back to school and are able to have food from the feeding scheme program, and those at home at home continued to study through television and radio broadcasting lessons.
Many families are still struggling to feed their families due to low income
Jobs may be lost and lead to increased unemployment
Alcohol and drug abuse has risen, leading to gender based violence
Increase in teenage pregnancy and school dropouts during lockdown
Everyone in the community wants to receive free food parcels even though they don’t qualify.
Some people still walk around without wearing masks
Some small businesses were allowed to reopen, generating income to support their families, others found new jobs and surrounding Schools reopened after meeting the required standards to ensure learners and staff are protected from contracting the Corvid-19 virus.
School children are able to have a meal at school and be able to study longer to catch up on their studies.
Food parcels were distributed to the vulnerable families including foreign nationals.
TOTAL NUMBER OF HOMES VISITED 75
OF WHICH 40 WERE FOLLOW-UP AND 35 ARE NEW BENEFICIARIES
Food parcels – 34 distributed: 20 identified by social development and 14 assessed during home visits
Clothes donation – 20 people (children & adults)
Counselling – 15 (adherence to chronic treatment, gender- based violence, basic hygiene measures at home, alcohol withdrawal syndrome and coping techniques due to job insecurity and no income)
Teenage pregnancy – 12 teen moms from different schools both primary and secondary
Referrals – 28 (application for birth certificates, ID documents and social relief grants)
To continue working with the Social Development Services as they have a database for those who are in urgent need of food parcels and social matters, other stakeholders such as churches and organizations.
Education and support to the community about Corvid 19 virus prevention and regular hygiene measures and importance of wearing masks will continue in the local language.
Food distribution to be conducted during mid-month unless there’s an emergency referral then it can be attended to immediately.
-Nurse Grace conducting a home visit in the township of Leseding-
During this Corvid-19 pandemic lockdown I dedicated my work in the community to educating families and school children about the Corvid 19 virus signs and symptoms as well as basic hygiene measures to ensure they understand ways of transmission and how they can prevent community infection. It was during that time that I also made home assessments and identified those families that needed support with food, clothes and proper shelter.
-Food parcel distribution to the unemployed during Lockdown-
School children were encouraged to study at home. I also helped those in Matric, through a WhatsApp group, to share ideas and questions for specific subjects. Others were encouraged to access learning through direct teaching from television and radio broadcasting programs at scheduled times. Counselling support service was provided to those facing serious issues and referrals were made when needed for further management.
Lack of food in many families due to no income.
Family disputes leading to physical injury i.e. fighting and verbal abuse
Increase in gender based violence
Loss of jobs and insecurity
Suicidal attempts in some learners due to emotional stress and poor family support
Increase in alcohol & substance abuse in some learners as they are not going to school
Increase in crime rates like house breaking, shops and schools
Undocumented foreign nationals who have no job nor proper income
-Nurse Grace helping the homeless in Vaalwater-
Through the kind donation of funds from The Waterberg Trust, Church of St John the Baptist at 24 Rivers, individual donors and fellow Christians who donated clothes, many people were blessed with food parcels, clothing, bedding and shelter. The criteria for food donation was: vulnerable families, school children and foreign nationals who could not afford to buy food. Thorough assessments, through home visits, were completed and a list drawn of beneficiaries. Some were referred by the Social Development and Lethabo Kids Club.
-Sorting TWT food parcels before distribution-
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable community and those in urgent need for support.
The next food parcel distribution will be the second week of June to avoid month-end overcrowding when people are busy getting their social grants and buying goods. During mid-month is when most families run out of food supplies. We will work with Department of Social Development who will help to distribute the food parcels. Those food parcels which are supplied by St John’s and TWT will be clearly marked and carries a personal note for the recipient.
We will continue to liaise with stake holders to avoid duplication of food distribution in the community i.e. Social Development Services staff, religious groups and other institutions which are involved in helping the community.
-Sorting donations of clothes and a bed-
Total number of people visited and assessed 150 during Lockdown
Food parcels – 75 (TWT funded 40 – St John’s Church and local individuals funded 35)
Clothing parcels – 30
Providing shelter – 2
Counselling – 10 (Gender Based Violence, Sexual abuse, suicide attempts & fighting)
Referrals – 13 (Application for birth & ID certificates, Social grants and food parcel application)
Treatment support – 20 learners reached and assisted to collect medication from clinic and needed adherence counselling.
The above duty commitment was made possible because of the support received from donors, fellow Christians and individuals.
May God greatly bless you for supporting our community during this challenging time.
ACKNNOWLEDGEMENT MESSAGES FROM SOME OF THE BENEFICIARIES THAT RECEIVED FOOD PARCELS:
‘On behalf of my family I would like to say thanks to St John’s and The Waterberg Trust, the donors and supporters. May the almighty Lord bless them, thanks –’ Emmy Banda
‘Thank you very much you are really God sent’ – Lisa Mofokeng
‘Thank you for the food parcel we appreciate your help Sister Grace’ – Dikeledi Mokoena
‘God knows your heart’ – Julia Ntomane
‘I don’t know what to say but only God will bless you more’ – Maria Nel
Report compiled by: Grace Ismail. Note: The people who appeared on the photos gave consent and agreed that their pictures can be used and shared with sponsors.
Thanks to kind donors in the UK, The Waterberg Trust has been able to send enough funds for a second allocation of food parcels but we winter has set in and we don’t know how long the emergency will last. Schools have gone back but tourism, which is the main source of employment in the district, remains shut down.
Schools in South Africa re-opened today, bringing a number of challenges in the light of Covid-19.
Nurse Grace has written to say, “I have been busy preparing schools, to ensure classrooms are cleaned and sanitised, also to plan the screening area for learners.” Masks are obligatory for all – by law.
Ever since schools in South Africa closed in March due to shielding, Sister Grace has been helping pupils with their studies at home. “I am attending to issues and challenges presented by learners. I have been in contact with the social development services to seek help for problems in the community.”
-Home schooling in the Waterberg –
Thanks to over fifty kind donors in the UK, who responded to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 emergency appeal, Grace has been co-coordinating the procurement and distribution of food parcels to the needy, working with volunteers from St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative. You can read more about this here.
-Nurse Grace purchasing groceries for food parcel donation-
Grace writes: “The next purchase will second week of June.” If you would like to help with the purchase of food parcels by making a donation, however small, please click here for The Waterberg Trust’s Justgiving site or here to send a cheque.
Winter is on its way, with clear sunny days but temperatures dropping radically at night. “I have been handling clothes to the community which are donated by Horizon and Bulls Eye”. She has also been distributing knitted blankets. “My targets are school children and vulnerable elderly.”
Grace has now returned to work in the schools of the Waterberg, including Meetsetshehla Secondary School, where she is based. If you would like to read more about her work, please click here.
Thanks to over fifty individuals in the UK who made personal donations to The Waterberg Trust’s Corvid-19 emergency appeal, food parcels have been distributed to people in need in the Vaalwater community.
The original idea was to support those who lost their jobs due to Lockdown, which virtually closed the tourism in South Africa overnight. In practice, Nurse Grace drew up a list of about 40 families / persons in need.
A local supermarket, which has very good prices, packed the food into bundles. Volunteers from St John’s Church supervised distribution directly from the shop to the grantees, who collected their food parcels to avoid transport costs. The volunteers checked the contents of each food parcel and recorded receipts from the correct grantee. Each package contained a message of encouragement in the local language.
All funds are carefully monitored by TWT’s local partner, St John’s Church.
Nurse Grace and volunteers from St John’s Church purchasing the food
Thanks to careful planning and the support of Choppies Supermarket, each food parcel contained a decent amount of nutritious groceries for the equivalent of about £27.
10 Kg Mealie meal – the staple carbohydrate
2 Kg Rice
2 Kg Sugar
4 Tins of fish in tomato sauce
4 Tins of baked beans
2 litres Cooking oil
3 packets of soup (used as a sauce with mealie meal)
7 Kg potatoes
1 Kg packet of powdered milk
1 bottle dish washing liquid
The plan was to include 2kgs of flour, but it was out of stock, so nurse Grace added a bottle of mayonnaise instead.
-Some of the many people who received food parcels in May 2020-
On daily basis, I am able to see 20 learners as well as those who are receiving ongoing counselling and check-ups.
Daily routine work at each school:
Learners with health related issues come to see me for consultation and examination. For emergencies/priorities e.g. those with fever, epileptic seizures, physical injuries, breathing difficulties, and flu-like illnesses are seen immediately. These may require referral to the clinic or private doctor. During the day I am available to see urgent cases which teachers are unable to deal with.
Life style matters such as diabetes, HIV infection, pregnancy, reproductive health issues i.e. menstrual issues, sexual transmitted diseases, mental and emotional issues including depression/psychosis are reported to me on daily basis.
I counsel and follow up on these learners on regular basis as appropriate and some of them are referred to the clinic or private doctor for further management. I also do home visits as needed and as time permits. I keep confidential records for each learner and record my daily activities.
I usually deal with a number of social issues, making referrals to relevant stakeholders. Problems include:
Drug and alcohol use and abuse including tobacco smoking, cannabis, nyaope and glue
Hunger and inadequate food at home
Poor living conditions
Individual rights abuse e.g. no place to study, drunken family members disrupting the house
Physical abuse e.g. beating and causing injury to learners
My daily schedule continues as agreed with management at the beginning of school programme. I report and sign from Meetsetshehla School every morning, then visit other schools.
Monday – Meetsetshehla High School
Tuesday & Wednesday – Leseding High School
Thursday- Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools
Friday- Meetsetshehla High School until 13.30pm, thereafter I do home visits to identified learners.
STATISTICS – Estimated from my records calculated from daily visits and follow up interventions:
Pregnant – 12 (four at Meetshtshehla, six at Leseding High School and two 15 year olds from Mahlasedi Primary) were counselled on average once a week after 30 weeks gestation approximately 108 visits
Medical Issues – 54 visits (Some learners were seen more than once)
Minor ailments –135 visits
Counselling– 63 sessions
Referrals – 25 (girls for contraceptives from the local government clinic)
Home Visits – 20
Health Education – 72 Learners from Leseding High School and 78 from Mokolo Primary School
Pregnant learners are monitored on regular basis to make sure they are attending antenatal clinic. Those under the influence of alcohol and drug abuse continue with counselling, which includes their parents and caregivers at home.
Liaison with the local government clinic is needed to follow up on those who are on chronic medication and to monitor adherence and progress by checking their files.
School programme services for Meetshetshehla Secondary School were affected by the pending appointment of a new Principal.
Primary schools are still overcrowded and teachers have difficulty ensuring every learner has been assisted and understands their topics.
Interruptions of studies due to unplanned meetings and workshops where learners are returned home without being taught.
The support for school programme has been acknowledged and welcomed by the surrounding schools and the community, which makes work easier.
Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools have managed to set up vegetable gardens with the aim of supplementing nutrition to the learners.
The Department of Education within the Waterberg district regularly visit the Schools to ensure teachers are doing their job as per requirement and to monitor those who are absent for no reason.
The community is involved with recycling and aware about the importance of keeping our town clean whilst they earn extra income from selling the recyclable materials. The environmental club held an awareness campaign to encourage every household to take part with green project by planting trees or to set up a vegetable garden
Learners know where to go to access contraceptives and STI screening i.e. the clinic
We had a meeting with the mayor, and different party leaders to discuss about issues of poor academic performance and standards of Meetsetshehla Secondary School. A follow up meeting by the mayor and party leaders was held on 13th January 2020.
The Social Development Services to discuss about ways of issuing food parcels to the vulnerable learners and their families.
The Victim Support unit based at the local police station and discussed ways to clamp down illegal drug dealers who supply illicit substances to youth in our community, issues of gender based violence and how we can prevent illegal weapons to enter on school premises.
Parents meeting held at the community hall to ensure they get involved in assisting their children to take education seriously and to avoid roaming on streets at awkward hours for safety reasons.
To extend school visits to Mothlakamotala High School at least twice per month as it is located 20km away from the feeder schools along the main road by request from parents. Learners who attend at this school come from our surrounding community and would access the services provided by the school nurse.
To ensure more teenage girls access contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies i.e. those who are sexually active.
To educate primary school adolescents about sexual heath and reproductive issues before they reach high school
Monitoring and making follow ups on all babies delivered, those who are under alcohol & drug abuse to continue home visits involving parents.
Every home must understand the importance of nutrition and how to prevent malnutrition in babies that are left at home by learners i.e. to have proper information about balanced diet meals.
Community awareness education about gender based violence, HIV/TB, Alcohol & drug abuse, reproductive and sexuality health and where to go for help and support. Awareness can be raised during parents meetings and by inviting different stake holders like Social Workers, Party representatives, religious leaders and youth representatives to speak to the school community.
The Green School Program continues. I have been able to set up and maintain a primary school environmental club at Mokolo Primary School. The aim is to expose learners to gardening, wildlife and the importance of conservation. They also received a donation of shade netting, poles, garden tools, compost and seedlings from Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS). To read more about this, please click here.
Acknowledgement letters were sent to those who continuously donate assorted items to schools i.e. Clothes, garden tools, educational trips, trees and vegetable seedlings: EIMS, THE FOLD CHILDREN’S HOME, HORIZON HORSE BACK, WATERBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE and SAVE THE WATERBERG RHINO
Mokolo primary school has 2,000 learners. Many are orphans and come to school hungry. The garden supplies additional nutrition to the feeding scheme. Mr. Thipe is the teacher in charge for the vegetable garden and links it to his life skills subject. The newly formed environmental club members help to water and maintain the garden.
The Waterberg Trust has provided a life-saving defibrillator and First Aid equipment for use in emergencies in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province.
“The defibrillator is kept with Paul Dorfling, a qualified person who also has a fully equipped First Aid bag and SIG response trailer. The defibrillator has been going to every training exercise so all the First Aiders are familiar with it. “The battery and pads on the machine are about to expire and replacing them will cost about R5 000.”
The other two First Aid bags are kept with First Responders who have the proper training. They are split between the Melkrivier and Vaalwater areas to be available for any situation in the Waterberg.
The most recent use of the First Aid kits was at an accident on the main road to Modimolle. A TWT Trustee explained, “This was a horrid road accident just outside Vaalwater involving a tractor and car at night. The woman driving the car died on impact but her husband was treated on the scene by SIG for the couple of hours that it took before an ambulance got there.” SIG were the only people with First Aid training able to get to the scene. “There is now only one doctor in Vaalwater – Dr van Jaarsveld and she has not been here over the Christmas period.”
The First Responder from SIG said, “I found the bag helpful… The main items needed are gauze, plasters (different sizes and strips), sterri-strips for stitching, wound dressings, bandages, tourniquets and gloves.”
If you would like to make a donations to re-fill these First Aid bags refilled and provide new batteries for the defibrillator, please click here.
~Mr Thipe with nurse Grace Ismail at Mokolo Primary School’s vegetable garden~
The Environment Club, run by nurse Grace of TWT, have been busy establishing a vegetable garden at Mokolo Primary School in Leseding Township in the heart of the Waterberg . A great deal of effort has been put into cultivation but the project lacked resources.
~Tomato seedlings at Mokolo Primary School vegetable garden in need of shade netting~
The Waterberg has been experiencing a heatwave this Spring and without shade netting it is difficult to get plants established.
~Mr Thipe of Mokolo Primary School with Andrew Smith and his team from EIMS ~
~Members of the Environment Club on a one day course at Lapalala Wilderness School~
The Environment Club, overseen by NET’s School Nurse Grace Ismail, visited both the Living Museum and Lapalala Wilderness School recently. To read more about this, and other conservation projects the school club is engaged in, please click here.
~ The rhino room at The Living Museum in the Waterberg ~
The Waterberg Trust has provided the Living Museum with information boards, tables and benches used by local pupils on school visits.
This month, Wilhelmina Loudon-Barnaart, board member of The Waterberg Trust, visited July Letsebe and Zach Sekhu at the Waterberg Welfare Society in Vaalwater. She enjoyed seeing around the after-school homework club, a learner support programme includes maths, English and computer studies. To read more about this, please click here.
~The learner support programme at WWS sponsored by The Waterberg Trust ~
If you would like to help The Waterberg Trust support conservation and educational projects in the Waterberg region of South Africa, please click here.
Nurse Grace Ismail and life skills teacher Ivy Rachele have formed an Environment Club made up of 45 pupils who have been involved in establishing a school vegetable garden. Since tilling the soil, thirty children from Meetsetshehla Secondary School and fifteen who attend Leseding High School have been going on amazing visits to local game reserves to observe wild animals in their natural habitat.
~School Nurse Grace Ismail with members of the Environment Club leaving Vaalwater for a day-visit to Marakele National Park~
South African National Parks have started a ‘Kids in Parks’ initiative aimed at primary schools. Nurse Grace says, they “teach children about wildlife, nature conservation and cultural heritage so that when they reach high school they will be able to understand the importance of protecting animals and preserving the environment.” Special activities make young people aware of water conservation, so critical in South Africa.
16th June 2019 was Youth Day. Some members of the Environment Club were invited to talk on Waterberg Waves community radio to educate listeners about environmental issues. Elvis Chitanda, aged 11, who attends Vaalwater Primary School, had the opportunity to speak on air, saying, “I really hope people don’t poach animals.”
Samuel Motswi from the People and Conservation Department of Marekele National Park in the Waterberg, delivered a number of indigenous trees that could be planted by children in school grounds.
Pupils learnt how to plant saplings, which included marula, red bushwillow, weeping boerbean and knob thorn.
~Planting indigenous trees in the grounds of Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools, Meesetshehla and Leseding secondary Schools and two creches in Vaalwater ~
The Environment Club has also partnered with Morji Kitsi, who visits schools and takes groups to Welgevonden Game Reserve and the Living Museum, which is also supported by The Waterberg Trust.
They learn about eco-systems while driving through the bush, viewing game.
The Waterberg Biosphere recently sponsored members of the club to attend a one day course at Lapalala Wilderness School when they were able to handle a python.
~Members of the Environment Club on a day visit to Lapalala Wilderness School~
Club members and other students are engaged in collecting litter and talking to people about waste, encouraging them to recycle.
It is a great project for the youth and has been successful in Vaalwater where there is an agent in town who receives the materials and sends them on in bulk.
It works particularly well as people need the money earned from recycling tins, paper and glass, which would otherwise languish in the bush.
Members communicate via a Whatsapp group, giving dates for meetings or environmental activities.
Nurse Grace also gives students the opportunity to meet those engaged in traditional crafts such as making brooms out of grass cut from roadside verges.
Meanwhile the school vegetable garden sponsored by EIMS is producing a fine harvest of nutritious greens, including spinach, French beans and beetroot.