Sister Grace revisited existing beneficiaries this September and October, identifying those needing help and support in the Waterberg region.
A total of 50 beneficiaries received food parcels this month. Sister Grace says, “I make sure there’s no overcrowding at the supermarket as per Covid-19 regulations.”
Some beneficiaries send family members or friends to collect food parcels on their behalf.
PROGRESS: Good relationships with stakeholders such as the South African Police, the local Government Clinic and the Department of Social Development, enable members of the community to be referred effectively and receive the help they need. It’s good to receive timely feedback after interventions so progress can be monitored.
Some families received food parcels from political leaders during campaign events. Others were promised employment and short term contracts in areas such as road maintenance. This will ensure many families have an income to provide for their families.
Many learners have access to daily meals at various schools and are occupied with their studies.
Sister Grace says, “As lockdown restrictions have been reduced, many people are back at work.” However, there is still need in the community. She has been using ‘Acts of Mercy’ funds to help a number of teenage orphans who are in school:
Job opportunities are being offered for longer periods.
Some community members were offered free skills development in hairdressing so that they can find employment or run their own hair salons
Teenage girls from surrounding Schools were blessed with disposable sanitary pads donated by Horizon Horseback clients who also gave R500 cash towards Acts of Mercy.
The Waterberg Trust is raising funds to equip all schoolgirls in the Waterberg with sustainable eco-sanitary pads, as you can read here, but these disposables are a welcome stop-gap.
Even the smallest gift will help Sister Grace continue her work helping the needy in the Waterberg. If you would like to make a donation, please click here for contact details. Funds are very carefully spent and are hugely appreciated.
Did you know that the majority of secondary school girls in the Waterberg can miss a week’s education every month? Can you imagine what this means to their future life chances?
The reason? They lack sanitary protection. You can change this. For just £15 a girl will receive 6 re-suable Dignitary Dreams sanitary pads with two pairs of pants that will last them for 5 years. This is an educational game-changer, ending shame and improving self-esteem for vulnerable teenagers.
It’s simple, it makes an immediate difference, and has a lifelong benefit.
Can you help?
The Waterberg Trust aims to provide all girls in secondary schools of the Waterberg with an eco-friendly pack of Dignity Dreams reusable sanitary protection.
Please join the Dignity Dreams Club and commit to an annual donation of £15 (or more) in order to provide a girl with sanitary protection.
Students are given a talk on puberty and how to use the pads before they are distributed. It is a good opportunity for them to ask questions and learn how to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
The NGO Dignity Dreams issue a book for teachers to use, helping them to give engaging talks on puberty and the female reproductive system in line with the curriculum. There is also an instruction leaflet in in pack.
There are six pads in each pack, designed for washing with Sunlight soap in cold water, rinsed in salty water and dried in hot sun. They are made by outworkers for Dignity Dreams, which is a not-for-profit employment scheme running in Pretoria. In effect, you’d be supporting two charities at once.
The girls like the design of the pink and green stripped underpants that come in the packs. One pad is equivalent to 144 disposable pads. They say they are both helpful and durable.
The Waterberg Trust first distributed Dignity Dreams pads in January 2019 thanks to sponsorship from TWT donors and Environmental Impact Management Services who kindly brought a speaker up from Pretoria. You can read about how we equipped 210 girls here.
Secondary schools in the Waterberg have an annual intake of 460 girls. This year, we have managed to equip 145 girls entering one of the schools. We need another 315 packs as soon as possible. If you could help with a few it would be hugely appreciated. The girls and their parents are truly grateful.
The total number of girls in the secondary schools of the Waterberg is 948. To help them all we need to purchase another 593 pads. At a cost of £15 for a pack (+courier charges) our aim is to raise £8,895 for this project.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust writes to say that Sister Grace continues to be a steadying influence in the community and at the school in these uncertain times. Here is her lastest school report:
SCHOOL REPORT FROM JULY – SEPTEMBER 2021
DUTIES: Grade 12 students wrote their trial examinations prior to their final Matric examinations which will start in October 2021. These helped educators to assess and prepare students for final exams. Examination centres were visited by officials from the Department of Education and centre numbers were provided.
These grade 12 students attend school on daily basis, including weekends, to ensure they are well prepared. Meals are provided for learners as many come to school without eating or from disadvantaged families.
I offered pre-examination counselling, encouraged and motivated them to study and work hard so they can pass their final exams. Some were exhausted as they have to stay at school for the whole day. Others pupils continued to attend school on a weekly rotational schedule.
Learners with challenges received regular counselling and support throughout the term i.e. those with mental illness, pregnant learners in their third trimester and those with psychological issues.
Some of the challenges faced by learners:
Some are writing while pregnant and might miss out exams as they will be on maternity leave. Two pregnant teenage moms are at home awaiting delivery.
Poor sanitation. Mobile toilets are substituted though there are not enough to accommodate all.
Over-age learners can cause trouble and are bad influence to those who want to learn. These students smoke on school premises, abscond classes after eating and do not submit their assignments and projects.
PROGRESS: Some dedicated teachers give their time to help learners during their free period
Meetshetshehla High School received donation of 300 new desks to replace the old ones to ensure leaners sit comfortably in classes.
Teachers attended workshop about preparation of exams and invigilation.
I attended a Leadership Collaboration Training Programme in the Waterberg District Community aimed at uplifting the Waterberg District, and showing how the private sector can work with the Government on various projects.
Representatives from various sectors attended i.e. the surrounding lodges, municipal workers, Schools and Private Intuitions.
The Hanns Seidel Stiftung funded the training, which is accredited. Participants will receive certificates.
MEETINGS: I attended meetings with the South African Police Victim Support Department (SAPS) and discussed how they can locate those selling illegal drugs, which is destroying the youth and leads to Gender Based Violence.
The Social Development and the local Government Clinic.
The officials from the Department of Education District office visited and interviewed me about bullying in schools and other challenges that I encounter amongst learners from surrounding schools. We agreed that if there’s any suggestion of school challenges that I should email them for attention.
STATISTICS: TOTAL NUMBER CONSULTED INDIVIDUALLY IS 151 (HIGH SCHOOLS ONLY)
PREGNANT – 5 (3 Meetsetshehla & 2 Leseding High School)
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
Sister Grace reports, ‘It has been a challenging time.’ Tighter Lockdown regulations were imposed on South Africa in June 2021 to reduce the risk of Corvid 19 spreading, however the vulnerable and terminally ill continue to need special care and support.
You can watch President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on 15th June 221 here:
CHALLENGES encountered in Vaalwater in July 2021:
Our Community has seen an increase in substance and drug addiction amongst the youth. Boys below the age of 20 have been found injecting drugs using the same syringe and needles. They looked violent. (The Police were informed and are currently monitoring the situation)
Increase in community theft has been reported
Some children have never been to school and keep wandering around, begging money.
Essential food supplies prices went up in July due to violent attacks in some parts of South Africa, which resulted in stock shortages.
Some beneficiaries have become dependent on receiving food parcels and do not want to work nor do piece jobs to earn income
Gender based violence occurs in some families due to lack of income and employment
Orphaned children lack parental care and support
Social gatherings and alcohol sales continue without adhering to Corvid 19 protocols
Sister Grace has been able to visit the needy and supply relevant needs.
Some members of the community have been offered short-termemployment within the town and surrounding lodges
School children are back at school and able to access meals from the feeding scheme program
The Social Relief Grant has been extended to help the unemployed to provide for their families
The Department of Social Development continues to provide food parcels to those registered in their system.
The Waterberg Trust aims to fill the gap by helping vulnerable people without papers who Social Services can not help.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that, ‘Substance abuse is becoming a serious problem. We will have to work on a local solution, but that is easier said than done!’
There are many different ways in which you could help or become involved. If you would like to find out how you can make a donation to The Waterberg Trust, please click here
We will continue to provide food parcels and donated items to those in need, conducting routine assessments, home visits and health education.
Sister Grace works with the local clinic, the South African Police, Social Development, local churches and community leaders to ensure TWT is well informed and the needy can access support.
Food parcels are being distributed in the Waterberg to support 113 needy people. Dr Peter Farrant says, “It is a busy time as temperatures are dropping significantly and winter is imposing herself!”
Sister Grace writes to say: I continued my routine home visits to identify new beneficiaries, checking up on previous ones and teaching basic health education to families and their children. This includes preventive measures to curtail the spread of the common cold, regular hand washing and the importance of wearing masks when in public places. I noticed that many people are ignorant about the need to wear masks when interacting with others.
-Sister Grace in the Waterberg-
Some beneficiaries have found employment while others have relocated to their families. Those with valid documentation were referred to the Social Development for continuity of food parcel support.
I managed to locate the Mozambican family who are related to the mentally disabled person who stands by the roadside near Build- It hardware shop. I referred this matter to the Social Worker and the Police Victim Support unit but it is taking too long to get him transferred to hospital for proper psychological assessment and treatment. A concerted effort is being made to take the man to the local district hospital using the SAPS. The plan is to manage his mental illness and provide shelter.
CHALLENGES: I came across 2 teenage mothers who had family disputes with their parents. They were left without food for days. I managed to conduct family meetings and distributed food parcels to the children. They are continuing to attend school. One girl is in grade 10 at Meetsethehla School, aged 17 years, the other in grade 12 at Lesideng High School, aged 18 years.
–We equip some learners without parents with school uniform–
Some Youths are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse even at school which leads them to scholastic and learning failure and in the community to theft and gender-based violence.
I found it difficult to locate those needy families living in informal settlements as the addresses are not properly indicated, however those with phone contacts were able to be assisted.
Many foreign residents on chronic medication had poor adherence due to lack of understanding and the language barrier as they could not speak the local language nor English. I involved local caregivers who could translate and explain clearly.
– FAMILY MEMBERS COLLECT FOOD PARCELS ON BEHALF OF THEIR SICK RELATIVES –
PROGRESS: School children have access to meals on daily basis and are attending school.
Social Workers and religious groups help distribute food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable.
Community members have been offered temporary employment within the community and private sector which enables them to supply their families.
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable and provide needed support i.e. food parcels, nutritional supplements, clothing warm blankets and psychosocial counselling.
The need for shelter for the homeless was discussed at an Elders meeting. The plan is to improve our existing shelter and to manage it more effectively. It is important to ensure that it is used for limited periods per person, so that it is not occupied permanently, as is the case at present.
Lethabo Kid’s Club – a place of fun, food and life lessons has been closed due to Covid Lockdown. They usually come running every Wednesday – 300 to 700 children each week. It is their special day where they know they ‘belong’. Lethabo means ‘happiness’.
The Waterberg Trust has been supporting Lethabo Kid’s Club’s ‘Back to School’ project since 2015. The aim is to ensure every child is registered to go to school at the beginning of the school year in January by whipping up enthusiasm and ensuring they are equipped with school uniform.
The foundation also aims to:
Teach the children about Jesus, and that He loves them
Provide good nourishing food to supplement sometimes meager diets.
Exciting Bible Stories that teach ‘Jesus loves you’ and life lessons are taught by the older youth and young adults.
Yummy peanut butter and jam sandwiches and fresh farm milk satisfy their hungry tummies. Many may not have had anything to eat all day and this is after school. Eager hands and anxious faces reach out for food.
Special days during the year are ‘Sausage Roll Day’ where each child gets his own sausage roll, yogurt and cool drink. These are lovingly prepared by the local Academy who love participating in this gift to the children. At Christmastime, we give each child a t-shirt, bright and colorful with a special logo on it, such as, “Jesus loves you”, “My best friend is Jesus”, and “Jesus is my Good Shepherd” Psalm 23, and a little lamb. All year, we see older and new t-shirts around the community and at Kid’s Club.
Our biggest project the past few years has been buying school clothes. With so many children in need, we specify ‘one’ thing each – most need shoes or a new school bag. This is so important to them as they are often mocked by other children if their shoes are broken or their shirts are too small or torn. If we determine that a child has a greater need, we buy the whole kit for him. This huge project is sponsored by The Waterberg Trust (TWT) with much love.
Hard-wearing school shoes costing under £10 a pair
Assisting high school matriculants with tertiary studies is a natural outgrowth of Kid’s Club. Most of these students have grown up in Lethabo Kid’s Club and now are looking forward to getting their futures established. Our organization for this is The Kholofelo Association, ‘Giving Hope to Youth” – a registered NPO in South Africa. Students are assisted with school fees, accommodation, food and transport where necessary. We’re seeing wonderful growth in them as young adults studying diligently and preparing for jobs as chefs, in tourism, electrical engineering, child care, office management and IT studies. While their courses are not on a university level, they do give a ‘step up’ in qualifying for a job. With only a High School Matric and no experience, they otherwise find themselves without hope.
We’ve spent more than 20 years giving and loving children and youth! Now we see many as young adults with jobs. They always come back to their ‘roots’ at Lethabo Kid’s Club. There is still that sense of ‘belonging’.
We are confident that the children and youth are being taught life lessons which will stay with them all their lives. Will you join us in changing lives! There are a number of different ways you can donate here
Thirty families in need of support in the Waterberg are being visited to ensure they have enough food and essential supplies. Education on basic hygiene measures is also offered. We are helping two child-headed families, some who are chronically ill, a man badly bitten by a dog, women with small children left with no means of support, an old woman with no ID card and many other needy cases.
120 individuals benefited in November and 94 in December 2020
TWT aims to support those who do not receive any social grant money, who are unemployed with no source of income or support, and are in urgent need of help. Those already on the Social Development system have been handed over to a social worker who has provided 18 families with food parcels donated by Shambala Game Reserve.
Nurse Grace works with Choppies supermarket and volunteers from St John’s Church who help to pack food parcels and deliver them to the elderly and those who can’t reach the supermarket due health issues.
We have been able to help those in crisis: thieves broke into one man’s house, stealing all his groceries whilst he was at a funeral. Another man had a fire at his house and needed clothes for his six children.
If you would like to make a donation to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 Appeal to assist the needy, please click here.
Progress! School children attending school benefit from the feeding scheme program Those receiving grants are able to buy essential supplies for the family.
Some people are back at work while others now sell produce at the local market Job opportunities for local community members in various sectors are emerging.
SCHOOL UNIFORM was bought for a boy from a dysfunctional family who now has counseling.
Current Challenges: Increase in food prices. Some families arrive late or find it difficult to collect the food. Four children below the age of 10 are being neglected by their mother due alcohol. The issue has been handed over to social development for intervention. 5 families were abusing social grants. The cases were reported to the social worker. Some people are becoming dependent on food parcels and do not want to work.
House break-ins and stealing within the community is worrisome with young boys involved in stealing from their parents. Huge families are unable to feed their dependents. Re-opening of taverns contributes to insecurity and unnecessary expenditure. This results in many drunken people leaving no food for their family.
Poor living conditions in informal settlements with poor sanitation and no water. Youth hang around quiet streets where they smoke, drink alcohol and abuse substances. Cases of gender-based violence resulting in physical injury and assault needed to be reported to the Police station. One men was severely injured and needed to be taken to hospital. Teenage pregnancies remain a challenge.
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
Since Covid-19 shut down the South African tourist industry in March, The Waterberg Trust has partnered with St John’s Church at 24 Rivers to make up food parcels for those needing help.
The project is overseen by NET’s nurse, Grace Ismail, who is sponsored by TWT. She has continued to meet with volunteers from the church, once a month, to purchase food from Chequers supermarket in Vaalwater, where it can be collected by the recipients.
By following up this distribution with home visits, Grace ensures that funds raised by The Waterberg Trust’s Covid-19 Appeal, and kind donations made locally, go to families who are struggling, including a teenage mum with twins and those unemployed due to Lockdown.
All previous beneficiaries have been visited. We found some have been able to return to work, others have received social relief grants, and some have been given retrenchment packages. New beneficiaries have been identified and assessed to confirm their status.
FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS:
Shambala Game Reserve, a local donor, requested a list of beneficiaries that needed food parcels. This list was given to social workers for re-assessment. Beneficiaries with no passport or South African identification book could not be assisted due to lack documentation. From the list of 20 beneficiaries, social workers distributed to 8 families. We assisted the rest.
The Department of Social Development does not provide food parcels for people without identification as they need to register beneficiaries in their system.
Some families abuse social grant money intended for buying food, using it for gambling and alcohol purchases instead.
Child-headed households without parents lack proper care and social support.
Dysfunctional families who neglect their children often provide little or no support.
Loss of employment and lack of income to support a family.
Gender-based violence continues in many households leading to physical injury and damage to property.
School children can be seen on the streets of the township at inappropriate times. Some abuse alcohol and drugs instead of studying at home.
Some beneficiaries returned to work, but did not notify us as they still want to receive food parcels. This is why reassessment of each family needs to be conducted regularly.
Stakeholders have been helpful in supporting the community with food, clothing and shelter for the less privileged. These include the Social Development Services, private organizations (eg Shambala Game Reserve), individuals and religious or faith-based groups within the community. This is encouraging as we can work together.
Schools have reopened and many learners have access to food provided by the school’s feeding scheme programme to ensure pupils get a meal and are able to concentrate in class.
We will continue to distribute food parcels from the supermarket as it is convenient and a central point for beneficiaries.
We will continue liaising with stakeholders to avoid duplication of food parcel distribution.
We will continue to visit homes and families as required.