Tag Archives: Africa

An end to period poverty in schools of the Waterberg in South Africa

Learners receiving a donation of sanitary pads so they do not miss lessons. They have each received a set of eco-pads with advice that has transformed their lives.

We have good news from the Limpopo Province of South Africa where the school nurse, Grace Ismail says the donation of washable sanitary towels, “has made a huge impact and girls no longer miss classes due to menstrual issues.”

The Northern Education Trust write from the Waterberg to say:

“Sr Grace Ismail is continuing to do a great job with Meetsetshehla School, Leseding High School and other feeder schools.  We look forward to seeing her make a significant change in the lives of these learners. We so appreciate your generosity and continued support and encouragement over the years as we continue to strive to provide the best possible education for the poorest of the poor. “

Accepting a donation of school bags

SCHOOL REPORT FROM APRIL – JUNE 2022

DAILY TASKS:  

South African education is at low ebb but after noticing that the numbers of Corvid–19 had declined, the Department of Education decided all schools should return to full daily attendance with daily screening of learners and teachers who all wear masks in classrooms.

“We noticed a few teachers at Primary schools tested positive with minimal symptoms which cleared within a short period. All grade 12’s are attending classes from Monday – Saturday to ensure they are well prepared before writing their final year examinations. All other grades wrote mid-year exams, which will enable them to be promoted to the next grade.”

The Department of Education has allocated examination centre numbers for the final year learners in all High Schools. Sister Grace says, “During this hectic time, I come across learners who are depressed, anxious or have fatigue due to the school workload. However, I provide pre-exam counseling about coping and how best they can utilize time when studying. Dedicated teachers are working very hard to support learners with extra lessons after school and on weekends, hoping for good results at the end of the year.”

Sister Grace

PROGRESS:

  • Extra teachers have been employed to fill up the gaps left by those who have relocated.
  • Teachers from two High Schools work together at weekends to provide extra lessons.
  • Stakeholders and the School Governing Body visit schools regularly to address issues faced by learners and encourage them about importance of study and passing exams.
  • There are positive changes at Meetsetshehla Secondary School after the appointment of an Acting Principal and Head of Department who ensure leaners are getting support.
  • All learners have access to food from the feeding scheme. This helps those who come to school without eating.
Community members growing food for the school feeding scheme

CHALLENGES:

  • Inadequate toilets: some schools are using mobile toilets and others a school pit latrine. 10 mobile toilets at Meetsetshehla Secondary School are not enough.
  • Primary Schools are overcrowded with 1,700 to 1,900 learners, which makes it difficult for some to understand the teacher .
  • Teenage mums miss classes as they need to stay home to look after their babies.
  • Many school leavers have no access bursaries for University or College and are just sitting at home despite having done well at school.
A learner who is bravely coming for counseling for substance abuse
  • Addiction to substance abuse and alcohol.
  • Learners with depression have suicidal thoughts as they don’t want to share their challenges nor speak out. I provide psychosocial counseling
  • Overaged learners are not coping in the junior classes. They have repeated more than three times without progressing.
  • Fuel is needed for the school nurse – She has to visit different schools and learners at home such as teenage moms and needs to collect medication from the clinic.
Learners at Meesetshela Secondary School prepare seed beds before planting veggies

SCHOOL VEGETABLE GARDENS FOR MOKOLO PRIMARY SCHOOL AND MEETSETSHELA HIGH SCHOOL ARE PROVING SUCCESSFUL. NUTRITION IS KEY TO LEARNERS.

The Head of Department is willing to reinstate a Young Christians’ Prayer Club where they can have time of prayer with learners to empower them spiritually and prepare them for challenges such as a court hearing faced by a victim of rape.

A pregnant learner receiving a donation of baby clothes

MATERIAL SUPPORT:

“I received various items which were donated to learners in the form of clothes, school bags and disposable sanitary pads. Female learners are no longer having challenges due to menstrual issues as they come to my office whenever they need help.”

“SOME OF THE LEARNERS RECEIVED DONATED ITEMS – THEY WERE SO GRATEFUL

Some of the clothing donated to primary schools this winter

MEETINGS:

Sister Grace says, “I attended meetings with various stakeholders from different organizations about issues of education in surrounding schools, bullying and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and substance abuse, which has affected youth and many family members. i.e. Victim support, the local Police Station, Environmental and awareness teams, the Mayor, church leaders and community leaders.”

“At the end of the meetings all participants agreed on how best they can support and protect youth especially those still at school. There are reports of insecurity for learners going to school as criminals hide in the bushes and attempt to snatch their phones or rape girls. The local municipality will consider clearing the tall grass to ensure the safety of the learners.”

A learner expecting a baby receives a donation

STATISTICS:

TOTAL NUMBER OF LEANERS SEEN INDIVIDUALLY: 120

PREGNANT: 5 – 3 at Meetsetshehla & 2 at Leseding High School.

MEDICAL: 20 – Asthma, Epilepsy, Arthritis, depression, chronic nasal bleeding & HIV.

SOCIAL ISSUES: 30 – Poor family support, improper home environment, alcoholic parents & no food at home.

MINOR ISSUES: 20 – Menstruation, common colds, headaches, toothache, dizziness, rashes.

ADHERENCE SUPPORT: 10 – ARVS, Epilepsy, asthma, antidepressant & HIV medications.

COUNSELING: 15 – Adherence to chronic meds, withdrawal methods of alcohol & substances, bereavement, and post traumatic stress counseling after sexual abuse.

CONTRACEPTIVES: 20 – Referred to access contraceptives from the local clinic.

NOTE: Numbers declined as learners were writing exams and some stayed at home to study.

Swollen hands make it difficult for this learner to hold a pencil

FUTURE PLANS:

To continue to monitor and support learners during the holidays and check- up on boys who have been referred for medical circumcision, which will be performed by the local clinic.

To continue to liaise with teachers who are secondary care givers who alert the nurse if there is an urgent matter to be addressed.

To continue to distribute washable sanitary pads and other donations.

A gift of school bags

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Sister Grace says, “I would like to thank Doctor Farrant for always being there whenever I have sick learners who need to be seen urgently. He makes time to see and examine them at no cost from his consulting room.”

“To my employers and all the sponsors, may you receive my gratitude for all the effort to ensure I have a secure job to be able to support my family.”

Schools are closed for 3 weeks but Matric learners will continue to attend extra classes.

Compiled by: Grace

School vegetable gardens are doing well

Kind donations supporting the needy in the Waterberg region of South Africa

The good news is that we are bing able to make a huge difference to the lives of ordinary people in the Waterberg by giving advice, making connections and providing those in need with specific donations.

ACTS OF MERCY REPORT FOR MARCH AND APRIL 2022

Now lockdown restrictions have been eased, many of our former beneficiaries are back at work. Some are engaged in informal trading, selling farm produce or clothes. Others are farming poultry or working in hair salons and Spaza shops. And many are receiving Social Relief Grants and food parcels from the Social Development, which are being delivered to the community. School children benefit from the feeding schemes on daily basis.

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

Besides food parcels, some beneficiaries were in need of essential supplies like washing powder, bath soap, clothes and nutritional supplements.

CHALLENGES:

  • We are seeing improper use of social grants meant to buy food for families
  • Alcohol and substance abuse among youth and adults is leading to Gender Based Violence. Fighting in beer taverns has resulted in the loss of two young male teenagers’ lives.
  • Community theft is on the rise. Houses are broken into and goods stolen. People feel insecure when walking alone, in fear of being attacked.
  • Increased unemployed youth leads to lack of productivity, resulting in drinking alcohol, teenage pregnancy and family disputes.
  • Increase in fuel prices have caused price fluctuation of food, transport and clothing.
  • Many roads have been severely damaged due to heavy rains. It is difficult to reach out to those in need of proper assessment and support.
TWT wants to equip every schoolgirl in the Waterberg with eco-sanitary wear so they do not miss lessons

PROGRESS:

  • Jobs have been created and some beneficiaries are able to provide for their families.
  • The Government’s solidarity fund has helped some community members by providing them with free vouchers to start poultry projects and other small businesses, which can help to generate income to support families. The vouchers are worth R2000 per beneficiary.
  • Many community members have had the Covid-19 vaccine and are aware of preventative measures and hygiene protocols.

Sister Grace says, “MANY THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO DONATED VARIOUS ITEMS WHICH BENEFITED THOSE IN NEED, MAY GOD GREATLY BLESS YOU ALL

If you are able to donate funds, The Waterberg Trust has a Justgiving page here.

Learners working in a school vegetable garden. Produce is used in the school feeding scheme

Please see our DONATE page for other ways of giving. We welcome fundraising activities and have some ideas here.

Would you be able to raise funds for school shoes? It would ensure children enter primary school at the age of six instead of wandering the streets.

MEETINGS:

Sister Grace attended meetings with the Victim Support Unit based at the local police station, and an event to keep the community informed about Gender Based Violence and to ensure there is unity and teamwork when it comes to protection of children, women and vulnerable people. A 56 year old man was arrested for sexually abusing a 13 year old mentally ill girl several times. The girl continues to attend school as they await for court ruling.

“I also attended a meeting with the department of Social Development and SASSA who discussed social grants applications, food parcels and support needed for the homeless. We agreed that beneficiaries who qualify for food parcels may be referred to their office for further help.”

She has asked the Community to take part in identifying those in need of help so that they can receive timely support.

Sister Grace working in schools of the Waterberg under Dr Peter Farrant

FUTURE PLANS:

  • Sister Grace will continue to reach out to those in need.
  • She will continue to work with stake holders to ensure everyone supports each other and avoid duplication.
  • She will continue to educate family members on basic health, where to access essential services and provide ongoing treatment, support and counseling to those in need.
  • Food parcel distribution continues

Volunteers purchase and distribute monthly food parcels to those in need. This is what each one looked like this month
A kind donation of essentials for a mother and baby made recently

BENEFICIARIES RECEIVED DONATED CLOTHES, BABY THINGS AND SANITARY PADS FOR SCHOOL GIRLS

Schoolgirls receiving sanitary protection this month. We need to ensure they do not miss lessons.

News from schools of the Waterberg

SCHOOL REPORT FROM JANUARY TO MARCH 2022

Dr Peter Farrant writes to say, “Thank you for your continued support…it is GREATLY appreciated!” There is a significant shortage of teachers, which is concerning, and never-ending social and medical needs. He says “Sister Grace is a stable rock in the school, which is a huge benefit to the scholars.”

LEARNERS BEING SCREENED BEFORE CLASS. THOSE WITH CHICKEN POX or SCABIES ARE SENT HOME

All learners returned to school on full-time basis this term with Covid-19 protocols observed. Between 600–1200 learners are screened daily. Learners continue to wear masks and are sanitised upon arrival. Outdoor activities are allowed in all schools and pupils participate in various athletics, which increases physical fitness. The infection rate has reduced as many staff members and learners have had Covid-19 vaccines.

Only two primary schools had Covid-19 positive cases among staff members, and control measures were undertaken. 

CHALLENGES:

ADDRESSING LEARNERS ON DANGERS OF GENGER BASED VIOLENCE AND BULLYING AT SCHOOL AND WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY
  • Shortage of staff, as a result of teachers relocating or being promoted in different educational sectors, has prevented learners from catching up academically. Pupils can spend a whole day without being taught.
  • Poor sanitation due to inadequate toilets for the huge numbers of learners
  • Overcrowding now all learners are fully attending school: 42 learners or more per class
  • Pregnant learners continue to hide. Their condition is only noticed during routine screening when they reach their 2nd or 3rd  trimester. Daily monitoring, counselling and support are then provided.
  • Overaged learners, who have repeated courses more than 3 times, are stuck in the same grade and can become bad influencers. Some are involved in theft of other learner’s valuables, which makes pupils feel unsafe.
  • Undisciplined learners come to school to disrupt others. Some are under the influence of alcohol. (Parents have been called to a hearing.)
  • Hysteric attacks in girls, which they believe was related to ancestral calling. These were controlled with the involvement of parents

PROGRESS:

  • Improved Matric pass rate for Meetsetshehla Secondary School of 78% – compared to 63% in 2020 and Leseding High School  73 %.
  • Senior learners continue to attend extra classes at weekends and during the holidays.
  • The employment of general workers and teacher assistants in schools has helped to keep school premises clean. Teachers are assisted with administration and book keeping. The Job Creation Scheme was a Government initiative to ensure youth are employed and equipped with skills by giving them a year’s contract in schools.
  • Feeding schemes continue to provide daily meals to learners many of whom come to school without eating.
  • The local education circuit office managed to source temporary staff to fill teaching gaps while schools awaited formal advertising of vacant posts
  • Sister Grace spoke to classes about teenage pregnancy, menstrual issues, contraceptives, cyberbullying, along with the dangers of substance abuse and its effect.

I AM ALSO INVOLVED IN A RECYCLING PROJECT OF BOTTLES, PAPER AND CARDBOX WHICH ARE THEN COLLECTED AND SOLD TO THE LOCAL RECYCLING COMPANY. THIS PROJECT HELPS TO EMPOWER THOSE UNEMPLOYED TO EARN EXTRA INCOME THROUGH WASTE MANAGEMENT. A TRUCK COMES TO FETCH RECYCLABLES WHEN BAGS ARE FULL.”

STATISTICS: TOTAL NUMBER OF THOSE SEEN INDIVIDUALLY: 167

PREGNANT – 20 (12 from Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 8 Leseding High School)

MEDICAL ISSUES – 8 : Asthma, Chicken pox, Herpes Zoster, Epilepsy, Dental infection and HIV

MINOR ISSUES – 55 : Menstrual issues, abdominal cramps, headaches, sports injuries and allergies

SOCIAL PROBLEMS – 20 :Due to poor family support, obesity due to improper diet, lack of funds to access a rehabilitation centre, and unhealthy living conditions, which distract pupils from studying.

PSYCHOLOGICAL – 10 : 6 cases of hysteria, 2 rape victims, 2 grieving the loss of loved ones, plus cases of abuse.

ADHERENCE COUNSELING – 25 : HIV medication, Epilepsy and depression.

CONTRACEPTIVES – 29 cases referred to access various methods of contraception

Sister Grace in the Waterberg

FUTURE PLANS:

  • I will continue to educate learners’ about the risks of teenage pregnancy, reproductive and sexual health, sexual transmitted infections and preventative measures.
  • I will invite stakeholders from the local government clinic who run youth friendly programs to motivate our learners and to encourage more girls to access different contraceptives
  • I will regularly meet up with security personnel who can assist with learners’ safety due to increasing number of drug addicts who hide in the bushes and want to commit crimes like raping girls and snatching phones or school essentials.  One 16 year-old girl was raped on her way to school. She’s currently receiving medical care and psychological counseling from the local clinic.

Schools are closed for 2 weeks from the 18th March and re-open on the 4th April 2022

Explaining how to use washable sanitary pads

If you would like to help The Waterberg Trust finance this amazing work, you can find details or who to contact and how to make a donation here.

MANY THANKS!

Even very small amounts of money go a long way to help the people of the Waterberg and enable learners to achieve their dreams.

Update on care for the needy in the Waterberg, South Africa

Sister Grace monitoring the development of a baby

The Board of The Waterberg Trust met this week to review projects being supported in the Waterberg region of South Africa.

One of the Trustees, who had just returned from a visit, was able to report that Sister Grace has been busy looking after people’s health and welfare in schools and the wider community. One of her objectives is to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, which take girls out of school and entrench poverty.

The Knitting Club have been busy producing the most beautiful blankets, hats and shawls, providing comfort for the very young and very old in the Waterberg. Sister Grace distributes these while making home visits when she can check that patients are taking their medication and have enough to eat.

Care for the elderly

Thanks to our supporters’ kind donations, The Waterberg Trust continues to work in partnership with St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative to help those in need through the pandemic.

Sister Grace distributing hand-knitted blankets

Volunteers help purchase and pack food parcels for about fifty individuals within family groups.

Food parcels donated to the needy in the Waterberg

These are collected from outside the local super market by friends or relatives of the needy. Local farmers donate food.

Food for the school nutrition project is being supplemented with vegetables grown in school veggie gardens by the Environmental Clubs.

Food parcels being collected

TWT has set up a ‘Dignity Dreams Club’ to raise funds to purchase eco-packs of washable sanitary pads for every girl entering secondary education. This is an important, low-cost initiative that gives girls confidence and means they do not miss lessons. Some were taking absence from school for five days a month.

Sister Grace explains how to care for washable sanitary pads.

The pads come with a book for teachers and are distributed with a structured sex-education talk about puberty. TWT is aiming to provide 400 packs a year at a cost of £15 each. The pads are carefully made by Dignity Dreams, a non-profit organization in Pretoria who provide work for the disadvantaged. They last four years. If you would like to help by making a small donation, please click here

For a full list of projects supported by TWT, please click here.

Handmade blanket and hat

Can you join the Dignity Dreams Club?

School nurse Sister Grace distributing packs of Dignity Dreams washable sanitary pads for schoolgirls

Could you change a schoolgirl’s future?

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.

Click here for our page on ways of making a donation

Sister Grace using a book on how to use the pads

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.

The book commissioned by Dignity Dreams for teachers to use when distributing the pads

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.

Sister Grace showing pupils how the washable pads work

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.

Another class of secondary schoolgirls received a pack of re-useable pads

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.

Speaker Verita Shikwambana from Dignity Dreams

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.

A note of thanks from one of the students

3rd Covid-19 Emergency Food Parcel Distribution in the Waterberg – July 2020

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– VOLUNTEERS AND BENEFICIARIES HELPING TO PACK FOOD PARCELS IN VAALWATER-

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.

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– SUPERVISED FOOD PARCEL DISTRIBUTION –

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.

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This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.

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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.
  • Gender-based violence.
  • 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.

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Lockdown report from Nurse Grace in the Waterberg

Nurse Grace helping lady in Leseding

-Nurse Grace conducting a home visit in the township of Leseding-

DAILY TASKS:

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.

The Waterberg Trust Food Parcel distribution during Lockdown

-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.

CHALLENGES:

  • 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 a homeless man in Vaalwater May 2020

-Nurse Grace helping the homeless in Vaalwater-

SUCCESS STORIES:

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.

Nurse Grace with food parcels purchased in suppermarket

-Sorting TWT food parcels before distribution-

FUTURE PLANS:

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.

Nurse Grace with donations of clothes, bedding May 2020

-Sorting donations of clothes and a bed-

STATISTICS:

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.

Nurse Grace and reciepient in Leseding May 2020

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.

To see more photos of the food parcel distribution, please click here.

If you would like to make a donation to TWT’s Covid-19 Appeal, please click here for TWT’s Just giving page (please leave a brief message) or here for the address to which cheques can be sent.

 

 

Nurse Grace has been making preparations as schools open in the Waterberg

Nurse Grace profile picture in TWT uniform 2020~School nurse, Sister Grace Ismail~

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.”

Sister Grace helping learners with studies through Lockdown

-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 buying groceries for food parcels

-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.

Nurse Grace at Meetsetshehla School in TWT uniform

The Environment Club

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.

TWT pupils going to Welgrovenden

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.

The Environment Club talking to people about recycling

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.

To read more about the gift of a school vegetable garden please click here.

Sales of produce are being saved to buy more seedlings. Some of the vegetables have been used by students studying hotel and catering management at Meetsetshehla School.

If you would like advice or are able to help with the Environment Club please contact TWT

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TWT sponsors another residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School

This year, The Waterberg Trust enabled 59 students and two teachers from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa about 3 hours due north of Pretoria.

The group travelled north into the Africa bush on a bus also funded by TWT so that no one was excluded by the cost of transport.

Since other pupils from Meetsetshehla had been on the environmental course on previous years, everyone was expectant, eager to grasp the opportunity to learn about ecology and nature conservation.

After a course on snakes and the value of all creatures in balanced eco-systems there was a module on plastic pollution and re-cycling.  Everyone learned how they can make a difference and improve the environment, allowing wildlife to thrive.

Students donned life-jackets to examine aquatic organisms and try swimming in the Palala River, which runs in front of the eco-school.

This was a new experience for most and proved an opportunity to learn about physics.

Teamwork proved essential when constructing a raft and negotiating the river.

Leadership training has always been recognised as an important life-skill at Lapalala Wilderness. It will be interesting to see if any of these young people take up a career in wildlife conservation or management of natural resources.

Learners were set a number of different challenges during the course of the week.

There were a range of outdoor activities that tested pupils in a variety of ways.

The obstacle course in the African bush was enjoyed by one and all

including the teachers accompanying the teenagers who found themselves wearing many hats.

It proved an unforgettable, life-changing experience. To read more about previous visits to Laplala Wilderness School, funded by TWT and watch a short film, please click here.

If you would like to sponsor children of the Waterberg to go on a 5 day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness, please contact us using the comments blow or find details here.