Thanks to our generous supporters, emergency food parcel distribution in the Waterberg has continued every month. Nurse Grace has conducted an assessment on how this is going, conducting home visits to beneficiaries. These are her photos and finding for the month of July 2020. We will be able to provide an update for activities in August soon.
Some recipients have managed to find a source of income or work and received a UIF payment to enable them to buy groceries for their family. Others still have no source of income or only work on certain days of the week when they are paid according to the hours worked. New beneficiaries have been identified including teenage mothers who depend on the child social grant.
Kind donations were received in the form of clothes, sanitary pads and bedding, for which acknowledgements and thank you messages have been sent. These came from individuals, St John’s church members and The Fold children’s home. Those in need were grateful.
This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.
Knitted blankets were also distributed thanks to kind donated wool for the knitting club ladies.
CHALLENGES faced in the township of Leseding:
People spend money on alcohol instead of buying food for their families.
School children roaming the streets – some get involved in crime and physical violence.
Child-headed homes with no parents to guide nor provide.
Patients with poor adherence due to lack of food and family support.
Foreign nationals with no identity nor family.
An expectancy of receiving food parcels regardless of employment.
However, many needy adults and children are benefiting enormously. More food parcels will be purchased when new list of beneficiaries is ready. If you wold like to make a donation to help provide for the poor, please click here.
Since the rural population of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa relies heavily on tourism, many people have been suffering from lack of income during Lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Waterberg Trust has launched a Covid-19 Emergency Appeal to raise funds to provide those in extremis with basic food so they can feed their dependents.
TWT has partnered with the Church of St John the Baptist who have been raising funds locally and providing volunteers to deliver nutritious food parcels consisting of 10 Kg Mealie meal – the staple carbohydrate, 2 Kg sugar, tins of fish in tomato sauce, tins of baked beans, 2 litres cooking oil, 7 Kg potatoes, 1 Kg packet of powdered milk, 250g teabags and packets of Koro Krunch. The plan was to include 2kgs of flour, but it was out of stock, so a bottle of mayonnaise was added instead.
In June 2020, we have been able to do the same again but, with winter pressing in, we need more funds to keep going. No one in the area has contracted Covid-19 but food security is an issue and the recipients and deeply grateful:
“Can’t thank you enough for what you have done.” Karabo
“Thank you for the food parcel.” Priscilla
“Thank you for always remembering me at this difficult time.” Lizzy
Nurse Grace who is managing the project reports:
ACTS OF MERCY REPORT FOR JUNE 2020
Follow-up home visits were conducted to those who received food parcels to check if there is any income or job opportunities for them. Some had returned to work and some were doing business, whilst some are still struggling to get income and support their families.
New families have been identified and added to the beneficiary list. Social development also provided a list for those in urgent need of food parcels. School children in certain grades are back to school and are able to have food from the feeding scheme program, and those at home at home continued to study through television and radio broadcasting lessons.
Many families are still struggling to feed their families due to low income
Jobs may be lost and lead to increased unemployment
Alcohol and drug abuse has risen, leading to gender based violence
Increase in teenage pregnancy and school dropouts during lockdown
Everyone in the community wants to receive free food parcels even though they don’t qualify.
Some people still walk around without wearing masks
Some small businesses were allowed to reopen, generating income to support their families, others found new jobs and surrounding Schools reopened after meeting the required standards to ensure learners and staff are protected from contracting the Corvid-19 virus.
School children are able to have a meal at school and be able to study longer to catch up on their studies.
Food parcels were distributed to the vulnerable families including foreign nationals.
TOTAL NUMBER OF HOMES VISITED 75
OF WHICH 40 WERE FOLLOW-UP AND 35 ARE NEW BENEFICIARIES
Food parcels – 34 distributed: 20 identified by social development and 14 assessed during home visits
Clothes donation – 20 people (children & adults)
Counselling – 15 (adherence to chronic treatment, gender- based violence, basic hygiene measures at home, alcohol withdrawal syndrome and coping techniques due to job insecurity and no income)
Teenage pregnancy – 12 teen moms from different schools both primary and secondary
Referrals – 28 (application for birth certificates, ID documents and social relief grants)
To continue working with the Social Development Services as they have a database for those who are in urgent need of food parcels and social matters, other stakeholders such as churches and organizations.
Education and support to the community about Corvid 19 virus prevention and regular hygiene measures and importance of wearing masks will continue in the local language.
Food distribution to be conducted during mid-month unless there’s an emergency referral then it can be attended to immediately.
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.
School Nurse Grace Ismail of the Northern Education Trust, whose salary is provided by The Waterberg Trust, reported that pupils in the Waterberg were struggling to find the money to buy sanitary towels. In 2018, The Waterberg Trust were able to donate a number of disposable pads but a permanent solution needed to be found. Some girls were missing more than five days of lessons a month and their academic results were being effected.
After being a short meeting with the Headmaster, Verita Shikwambana of Dignity Dreams gave a talk on menstrual health to about ninety schoolgirls before introducing the concept of eco-friendly, washable sanitary pads.
Dignity Dreams manufacture multi-use pads that are designed to be washed in cold water with Sunlight soap, rinsed in salt water and dried in the sun. The packs of six are carefully made by hand and last four or five years. Lessons need no longer be missed. Girls gain in confidence and are free to achieve their potential in life.
Artist Susie Airy, who has raised funds for TWT by selling her paintings, helped to distribute one pack to each learner. ‘I wish my daughters could have heard such an interesting talk when they were at school,’ she said later. ‘It was wonderful to take part in this project.’
The girls were amazed to hear that the packs were theirs to keep and for them alone. Four weeks after this talk, Nurse Grace reported:
“I have received positive results from 75 girls who said the pads are working well without any problems…. many girls at Meetshetshela are no longer absent because of menstrual issues. Girls are also reading the book which Dignity Dreams left, entitled MY BODY #Noshame which talks about puberty, pre-menstrual syndrome, hygiene, period pain and exercises to relieve cramps during menstruation. The remaining learners from grade 10 to 12 will need 180 packs.”
Nurse Grace wants to see if the pads can be made locally. Dignity Dreams provide lessons for those keen to sew at home as a small business initiative and encourage tailors to sell to adults.
Very many thanks to Andrew Smith of Environmental Impact Management Services who sponsored 96 packs and drove the consignment up from Pretoria, along with the speaker. The Waterberg Trust was able to match his donation to provide a total of 210 packs so all the girls in Grades 8 and 9 could be equipped. The other state secondary school in the Waterberg also has girls who are also in need of sanitary pads and of course new girls arrive every year. Horizon Horseback Safaris have kindly given a donation of disposable pads to help keep the girls supplied in the short-term.
We noticed that Nurse Grace needs a hospital screen on wheels, so that she can conduct examinations in private. She also needs a new office chair or these old ones to be repaired. Is there anyone in Vaalwater who could help?
The environmental consulting company Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS), based in Gauteng, has made the astonishing gift of a vegetable garden to aid Nurse Grace in her work teaching life orientation skills at Meetsetshehla Secondary School at Vaalwater in the Waterberg.
Andrew Smith and his team of twenty environmental scientists wanted to contribute to the work of The Waterberg Trust by making a gift of their know-how before spending a weekend in the African bush.
We never guessed that they would arrive with 33 bags of compost.
The staff and pupils gratefully accepted trays of lettuce, spinach, beetroot and onion seedlings as well as a variety of much-needed seeds. ‘I was speechless,’ Nurse Grace said. It was an answer to prayer. They even brought seed markers.
EIMS also donated garden netting, watering cans, tools and ordered treated poles from a local supplier so that pupils could erect shade-netting to protect the seedlings from birds and drying out in the sun.
The team from Environmental Impact Management Services also bought a year-planner and books that provide information and advice on when to plant and how to gain optimum productivity. Nurse Grace said, ‘We learnt a lot about keeping vegetables healthy and effective planting methods.’
School exams were in progress but the team were able to meet some of the pupils and explain how best to sustain the vegetable garden established by Nurse Grace a year ago. While Meetsstshehla has been acknowledged as a leading Green School in the Limpopo Province, nurse Grace plans to share the vision with other schools that she visits in the Waterberg.
Nurse Grace had time to discuss other plans for the community. Environmental Impact services are generously donating 95 packs of washable sanitary pads so that all the Grade 8 school girls can participate fully in school activities. A team from Dignity Dreams in Pretoria will come to instruct both boys and girls on menstrual health when exams finish.
~Explaining to guests about our green school project~
Andrew Smith said, ‘We have been involved in developing an air quality awareness campaign for one of our clients over the last 12 months. The programme is aimed at education focused specifically on how burning practices in the homes and communities can negatively impact the air we breath. Burning of waste and the use of coal fires in the home for cooking and warmth during winter are some of the issues the campaign focuses on. We have rolled the campaign out in some primary schools as well and we’ve developed puzzles, colouring books, quizzes and drama competitions. We have asked our client whether they will allow us to use the material elsewhere and we’re waiting for their comments. This educational content might be something Nurse Grace, or other teachers, could use during some of the Life Orientation classes.’
~Showing EIMS part of the garden and how we make compost manure from waste~
If you would like to make a donation towards the creation of a school vegetable garden in the Waterberg or towards multi-use sanitary pads for pupils please click here detailing your wishes. Sets of sanitary packs cost R220 and last for approx 48 months. We are hoping to raise enough money for all the school girls in the Waterberg to be kitted out.
Ant Baber led the fourth Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, taking a new route across the Waterberg Plateau from Ant’s Nest to Jembisa on the Palala River to the north, covering 187kms on horseback over six days and crossing seven different game reserves.
Team members from the UK and Bermuda had been busy raising sponsorship, 50% of funds going to Save The Waterberg Rhino and 50% to community projects that uplift the people and place of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa
While we had excellent game viewing, we also enjoyed very good food.
Meals were served in a variety of different settings, enabling the team to get to know each other and have time to chat to guides and directors of the game reserve. It was a true safari, in that we went on a journey through the African bush.
Coming across wild animals made our spirits soar.
We were able to get unusually close both on foot and on horseback.
What the animals thought can only be guessed.
But the riders wrote to say how amazing it was. ‘I think you have a winning formula as the riding is wonderful but all the extra experiences such as the school, youth club, church and visiting Clive Walker, enriched it and made it a truly unique experience and insight into the Waterberg.’
On the second day we had a real life adventure, helping the local vet.
‘It was a truly memorable adventure’
The horses were used to approaching wildlife as they graze with other animals in the bush.
It was high summer in South Africa so the afternoons could get hot and tiring
and the road was sometimes steep
but each day was full of variety
and we developed a huge sense of camaraderie.
‘…it was just pure fun and I felt so carefree’
We each had time to develop a relationship with our horse.
While the herd enjoyed the grazing we loved finding out about the projects supported by The Waterberg Trust.
It was a privilege to meet the local people.
These included exceptional women changing the lives of children.
‘Apart from the riding, we so enjoyed seeing all that The Waterberg Trust supports. There are some incredible people involved.’
We met the conservationist Clive Walker and learned of what he had achieved for the UNESCO Biosphere and good to hear his new plans for the Waterberg Living Museum.
It was a privilege to be able to watch wild animals from horseback.
The landscape was ever-changing.
After five days in the saddle we reached the Palala River without mishap and thanks to the teams at Ant’s Nest and Jembisa, we were able celebrated the finish in style.
‘It really was a very special trip and a challenge at that.’
Special thanks go to Ant Baber and his family for looking after us and enabling us to ride across the land of their forefathers and beyond.
It was ‘a really amazing experience’.
The horses needed a good rest and the riders were tired but everyone agreed that it had been an incredible week of exploration.
The Waterberg Trust instigated the role of School Nurse to minister to the young people and children of Vaalwater in the Waterberg, South Africa in 2018.
-A pupil with Sister Grace, using an examination couch donated by Dr Albert Poitier-
Nursing Sister Grace Ismail is the first school nurse assigned to state schools in the Limpopo Province. She is based at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater where she is in the ideal position to help the emerging generation face the HIV/Aids pandemic and cope with problems such as drug and alcohol abuse in the township of Leseding.
-Tree-planting with students-
‘500 learners were reached in class this term and offered different healthy topics ranging from hygiene, infection control in schools and HIV/TB prevention.’
-Sister Grace working with the Life Orientation Teacher at Leseding Secondary School-
Sister Grace has also been working with Life Orientation teachers and Community Workers at the schools, getting pupils keen on growing vegetables and planting trees. This encourages everyone to look to the future and care for their environment.
-Growing fresh vegetables-
‘Some learners have psychological trauma and can’t concentrate in class due to dysfunctional families and lack of support.‘ Others have nutritional needs.
Nurse Grace initiated a re-cycling project to generate funds to provide learners with sanitary products so they do not miss school. She gives counselling and careers guidance as well as providing First Aid.
While Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust oversees the nursing work, The Waterberg Trust provide this NGO with a grant to pay for Sister Graces salary.
-Sister Grace with the Community Workers programme-
If you could make a donation or monthly contribution to support the school nurse’s life-changing work, please click here for details on TWT’s Donate Page.
-Sister Grace at work in schools in the Waterberg, Limpopo Province, South Africa-
After walking the horses down a steep track on Jembisa game reserve, we finally made it to the Palala River. It’s normally too deep to cross on a horse but the drought of 2017 resulted in unusually low water.
The rocks looked slippery but Ant Baber decided we could walk across.
As we made our way the Rooisloot valley we came across interesting plants such as this Transvaal gardenia.
Greater kudu enjoy eating the green seed pods and had effectively pruned the bushes.
The aim was to ride up to the wetlands at the very north of the reserve.
We had entered at the gate just south of Emily’s Camp. Today we reached Kwarriehoek near the road to Makopane, which you can see at the top right-hand corner of this map.
It was good to have reached the open grasslands after having spent six days in the saddle.
Mission accomplished. We could ride no further north.
A highlight of the day was lunch at a house on the game reserve which has a pool with an incredible view, looking north down the Palala River Valley towards Lapalala Wilderness where we had been the evening before.
We mounted the horses and crossed back over the Palala, which flows north into the Limpopo on the South African border with Zimbabwe.
Without pausing to remove our helmets, we dismounted and climbed up the steep cart track in our hot clothes. The horses were fine but it was hard on the riders.
Once we reached the plateau, it wasn’t long before we were met by the back-up team.
They had brought us champagne to celebrate the end of the challenge ride.
Everyone was tired, but happy, if a little dazed.
No one had fallen off. There had been no injuries or mis-haps. The horses were still in good condition. We had explored a new route, which had proved varied and exciting. Ant Baber decided the ride had been a success.
We’d made it!
We had come so far and seen so much. The experience had challenged and extended each one of us..
We climbed back into the saddle and had a cheer from the team from Newbury, before making our way back to the lodge.
The riders enjoyed one last exciting gallop before bidding farewell to the horses, who had all done so well. We’d covered 187 kilometres in total – 197kms if you counted the ride before the official trek began six days before.
Very many thanks to all our sponsors and donors who encouraged us on our way. The funds raised will go a long way to help Save The Waterberg Rhino increase security in the area and will support community projects run by trusted charitable organisations that uplift the emerging generation by providing education or healthcare.
In February 2018, The Waterberg Trust enabled 60 local teenagers from Leseding Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course on environmental awareness at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.
The students were given a grounding in nature conservation and experienced the beauty and importance of South African wildlife.
This python was very much alive as was the chameleon that the young people also handled.
The idea was to take away fear of culturally reviled animals and teach students how to handle reptiles and creepy crawlies they might encounter. When they return to the township of Leseding, the teenagers are given a mentor who they can text if they find a snake in the house or hear of worrying wildlife issues.
Everyone enjoyed the obstacle course in the African bush and learnt how to use maps in a wilderness situation.
One day they donned PFD life-jackets to experience what it would be like to swim in the Palala River. It was a great way to cool off after a hot day in the African bush.
One exercise was to build a raft and get out on the water, which was an eye-opener for many. Mr Mashudu Makhokha, Director of Lapalala Wilderness School said, ‘Raft building is one of the activities that enhance teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.’
The pupils also studied wildlife in the river system and learnt more about water. ‘They learnt to identify various kinds of aquatic animals – and the basics of how to use SASS (South African Scoring System) – which uses the presence/absence of a variety of freshwater macroinvertebrates to gauge the health of riverine ecosystem.’
Co-operation, team-building and leadership training were important parts of the course. ‘Students discovered that good teamwork is essential.’
However, recycling, eco-systems, the environment and the significance of South African wildlife was at the core of this inspirational week that ties in with the school curriculum and gives the teenagers a grounding for life.
You can see the students here on an interpretive hike that gave them an opportunity to learn basic ecology and gain a changed attitude towards biodiversity.
Could you help raise funds to enable more local children to go on this residential course? It only costs R380 per person a day (about £24) so is exceptionally good value. All food and dormitory accommodation is included. The Waterberg Trust like to provide the cost of transport from the township of Leseding, to ensure that no one is excluded for economic reasons.
Thanks go to those who took part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017, who raised enough money for these 60 pupils and two of their teachers to enjoy this life-changing opportunity. Hopefully some of these young people will consider a career in nature conservation, tourism or teaching in the Waterberg.
Trustees of The Waterberg Trust took TWT Riders to Lapalala Wilderness School in January, when they enjoyed meeting the staff and learning about new projects.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Lapalala Wilderness School is immensely grateful for the assistance that The Waterberg Trust has given. This support has enabled 60 children and two adults to attend an environmental education course in 2018. We hope that with ongoing support from TWT, we can continue to bring young people to LWS and awaken in them a love for the environment and a commitment to conserving it.