The Waterberg Trust supports Sister Grace, an experienced school nurse based at Meetsetshehla Secondary School just outside Vaalwater in the Waterberg. She has been reporting on the school programme for June 2018, which started well at Mokolo and Mahlasedi Primary Schools.
~Sister Grace helping children of the Waterberg: This little girl has a chronic illness. She’s an orphan living with her granny who wanted to learn how to take her tablets on her own. She is being monitored and we will continue educating her during school holidays~
Primary school children are being screened using the recent tool which the Department of Education has introduced to all schools to identify early learning barriers, physical, social and health challenges. The information will be kept in each child’s file and used together with a transfer letter when they go to secondary school. Those with problems will be referred to the relevant bodies.
~Sister Grace in the classroom~
Secondary school students were visited by the South African Police Service on the opening day of term. They were addressed on security issues. It was emphasized that they need to report any problems to the nearest police station i.e. rape, gender-based violence, abuse etc. This campaign will also be conducted at the primary schools in the next quarter. The police want to ensure the students are well protected and safe whenever they walk to and from school. Pupils were advised not to move during awkward hours without the knowledge of parents.
The Department of Health team came to screen all the Grade 8 students and gave them immunization. Among the team were the nursing sister, the dentist, nutritionist and optometrist. Those who had health issues were referred to the clinic for further management and treatment.
- After-school and weekend classes continue to help students catch up and improve their performance. During the holiday, the Grade 12s from surrounding schools will continue with extra studies in readiness for their final examination.
- The Grade 12s had an opportunity to go on a career exhibition trip in Lephalale and Welgevonden game reserves and learn how to choose different careers before they go to college and University.
- The secondary schools have been assessed in readiness for the final Matric examinations and given new center numbers.
- Families of students who face challenges with food at home were assisted to access food parcels from Social Development Services and will continue to receive these on a monthly basis.
- Stake-holders and the community are positive and ready to work with schools.
- The Student Christian Fellowship continues to meet once a week. More students have come forward to be inspired spiritually.
~Hospitality students learning more about nutrition and food preparation~
- Overcrowding of students at primary schools, with more than 50 children to one teacher, means it can be difficult to help those who are not coping nor doing well in class. Some schools have more than 1,200 children.
- The older girls at primary schools have problems coping with menstrual issues so stay home when menstruating and miss out classes unless we issue them with sanitary pads:
~Pupils receiving sanitary pads donated by TWT~
- The number of pregnant girls has increased despite all the education about contraceptives, abstinence and complications of teenage pregnancy.
- The local Government Clinic has shortage of contraceptive pills and those seeking help are being told to buy from the chemist, which is difficult for those without money.
- Some girls still hide their pregnancy until it is discovered late by the help of the educators.
- Teenage moms leave their small babies with parents and grannies which may lead them to develop malnutrition.
- Grannies who look after orphaned children face many challenges supporting them with schoolwork, as they can’t read nor write.
- Unstable and poor families don’t care about their children’s future.
We continue to sustain and manage the vegetable garden that will go a long way in stimulating the interest and passion to these young people:
~Students learning how to grow healthy food~
Grannies who are guardians of orphaned school children from both primary and secondary schools have formed a support group where they meet to share different experiences looking after the orphans.
~A support group for guardians of orphaned children in Vaalwater~
They meet weekly, do exercises and have a vegetable garden as a source of income generation. Their dream is to participate in sports like netball to help them cope and to accept the loss of their children. They too need to be involved in counseling and education regarding their children’s behavior and performance in schools.
Sanitary pads, bras, first-aid dressings and orthopedic shoes were donated by TWT riders and delivered by TWT Chairman Belinda Chaffer.
The pads and bras were distributed to Leseding Secondary and Mokolo Primary school students. It really made a huge difference, as many girls can’t afford to buy pads.
One pupil needed an operation due dislocated knee caps. She is doing well, can walk with the help of the orthopedic shoes shoes and is attending school. Sister Grace supports her with daily walking exercises. She will go for her check up in September.
- Parents meeting at Leseding Community Hall
- Meeting with Social Development Services
- Limpopo Green Schools for the Earth Program by the Department of Agriculture
- Department of Health event held at Leseding Secondary School about In-School Risk Behavior.
- Continue to offer extra classes for all students to catch up and have enough time to focus on subjects they don’t understand well.
- To take our Green School Program Club members to Lapalala Wilderness School where they will learn more and be motivated about environmental and nature conservancy.
- To continue with health education in schools and focus more on early childhood development, teenage pregnancy and substance and alcohol abuse.
- To continue supporting girls with free sanitary pads, whenever we get donation, to keep them in school.
Total number of 67 students personally consulted for:
- Health – 20 (dental, diarrhea, severe injury, genital sores, urinary infection)
- Social – 10 (family problems, addiction, stress, no food, teenage fathers)
- Minor – 15 (headache, period pains, sports injury, dizziness)
- Counseling – 10 (HIV/S.T.I, drug abuse, care of baby)
- Pregnancy – 12 (6 Leseding Meetsetshehla Secondary School and 6 Meetsetshehla Secondary School) NOTE: Number of pregnant students went up after a meeting with all the girls was conducted and they were advised to see the school nurse for a checkup. Some were already 7– 8 months pregnant.
101 Grade 12s (60 from Meetsetshehla and 41 from Leseding Secondary Schools) were assisted with Life Orientation healthy topics and were mentored on how they can prepare for their exams and to understand the questions before answering.
25 family members were reached to assess their home situation and referred to Social Development Services and are currently receiving food parcels. These families were identified through a follow up of some students who raised issues of not having enough food at home and some are on chronic medication.
Compiled by: Grace Ismail (School nurse/Counselor)
If you would like to make a financial donation to help Sister Grace in her work please click here
If you would like to make a donation of sanitary pads or bras, please email email@example.com