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
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.
-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.
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.
TWT recently visited the Waterberg Welfare Society’s homework club and were excited to receive a progress report.
To provide extra tuition in Mathematics, Physical Science, English, Technology, Life Science, Geography and Agricultural Science.
To equip learners with broader skills, which will enable them to do well in exams.
To motivate learners so they are able to take up challenging subjects and fill the employment gap in the future.
“I never understood the importance of computer training, I thought I know everything to do with technology, I open all my social pages, and always on social media and that made me to think that I am good in technology! But since I started the basic computer literacy program I realized that there is still much to learn, so I am so happy for being part of the study club, so keep up the good work.” Lesego.
Gaining knowledge and learning skills.
Improved cooperation between teachers and learners.
Improved digital (ICT) skills and better use of learning strategies.
Improved social skills and cooperation with peers, promoting adult–child communication.
~Tutors at the Waterberg Welfare Society Homework Club~
Progress in the implementation:
Pupils have shown growth and improvement in English presentations and reading.
They have learned how to best communicate with one another, giving others the necessary time and a chance to speak.
Tremendous progress has been made since the inception of the project. 50 learners (about 75% of the total) passed their first quarter school assessments and are highly motivated. Learners in Matric (grade 12) in 2018 passed their subjects and went on to tertiary education (Institutions of higher learning).
Once we get school reports for the 2nd quarter of 2019 we will have the opportunity to analyse and compare the first and second quarter school performance for all registered learners.
Overall, the learners have geared themselves towards academic achievement.
The programme has become a huge success in the community. 70% of our learners are exposed to basic computer literacy.
Learning aid/materials and stationary were purchased. All registered participants receive a daily nutritious snack. This has increased their contribution and commitments in the programme.
We have been able to incorporate learning whilst we play ball.
80 people have benefited from this project each month:
45 participants between the ages of 7 – 12 years old (30 girls & 15 boys)
35 participants between the ages of 13-18 years (22 girls & 13 boys)
What are the major challenges and how are they overcome?
The major challenge was lack of communication skills among participants (talking at each other, not giving each other a chance to speak, disrespecting one another etc.). We were able to overcome this by using a ball as a communication tool, each one speaking with a ball in their hand and giving one another a chance to speak. This helped the kids realise that it is a lot better to listen and understand rather than to talk at each other and that communicating is more than just speaking.
The secondary school participants are not able to use a computer and yet they are given lots of school research projects. We have introduced basic computer literacy sessions with participants from the primary phase. This has brought confidence, created skills and and understanding of basic research.
Learners tend to deviate from the normal time-table and try to focus on either what they expected or immediate tasks needed by their teachers. This means our planned activities change on an almost daily basis. The educator is forced to alter the plan to suit the learners’ needs. Sometimes the learners bring the subject matter, which is out of the plan for that day, and not part of the subjects mentioned for study. Monitoring of daily tasks becomes a problem. The educator moves around checking learners study programmes but sometimes this is a challenge. A discussion needs to be held with registered participants in order to come to a workable solution. It is always important to involve participants in decision making process.
The impact of the project during the reporting period:
Improved social skills of registered kids
Improved performance at schools
Improved self-esteem and confidence
“… made me to understand challenging topics in Physics like Mechanics, energy and in Mathematics. I can now solve problems in Geometry through the help of my Tutor. He has done a perfect job in sharpening many learning mind in Science Subjects. I also now have a career through the help of my Tutor. I appreciate the services given to me”. By Rebecca
What lessons were learnt during the implementation of the project?
Communication through various texts, writing, speaking, reading, visuals and drawing.
Promoting paired, shared and individual reading is critical, the culture of reading is key and this needs to be promoted at a household level.
Exposing participants in various career workshops/session at an early stages in critical.
A safe space for participants should always be maintained at all times, this enables them to share some of the frustrations they are encountering in school, the community and at home such as bullying, peer pressure and etc.
~Some members of the Waterberg Welfare Society’s ‘Soul Buddies’ homework club~
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~
‘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