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.
-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.
Thanks to over fifty individuals in the UK who made personal donations to The Waterberg Trust’s Corvid-19 emergency appeal, food parcels have been distributed to people in need in the Vaalwater community.
The original idea was to support those who lost their jobs due to Lockdown, which virtually closed the tourism in South Africa overnight. In practice, Nurse Grace drew up a list of about 40 families / persons in need.
A local supermarket, which has very good prices, packed the food into bundles. Volunteers from St John’s Church supervised distribution directly from the shop to the grantees, who collected their food parcels to avoid transport costs. The volunteers checked the contents of each food parcel and recorded receipts from the correct grantee. Each package contained a message of encouragement in the local language.
All funds are carefully monitored by TWT’s local partner, St John’s Church.
Nurse Grace and volunteers from St John’s Church purchasing the food
Thanks to careful planning and the support of Choppies Supermarket, each food parcel contained a decent amount of nutritious groceries for the equivalent of about £27.
10 Kg Mealie meal – the staple carbohydrate
2 Kg Rice
2 Kg Sugar
4 Tins of fish in tomato sauce
4 Tins of baked beans
2 litres Cooking oil
3 packets of soup (used as a sauce with mealie meal)
7 Kg potatoes
1 Kg packet of powdered milk
1 bottle dish washing liquid
The plan was to include 2kgs of flour, but it was out of stock, so nurse Grace added a bottle of mayonnaise instead.
-Some of the many people who received food parcels in May 2020-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
~White rhino, their horns micro-chipped and saturated in poison, are under 24-hour armed guard~
The Chairman of The Waterberg Trust reports, ‘Having just returned from the Waterberg, I can confirm that the The Waterberg Trust security container is being used by the Waterberg Security Initative at the Living Museum.’
~Some of the WSI rangers~
‘We met one of the guards there and saw how the container is used as a staging post for security patrols.’ These run through the night. This security container was bought with funds raised on The 2016 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride.
~A patrol vehicle outside a security container purchased with funds raised by TWT riders~
As a result of funds raised on the The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2017 and a dinner held at Southill Park by kind invitation of the Whitbreads in November 2017, a significant grant was made to Save the Waterberg Rhino for the installation of LPR cameras to cover what is know as the Dorset/Palala/Melkrivier security cluster. This includes all the reserves traversed this January on The 2019 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride.
The cluster will be run by the Waterberg Security Initiative (WSI) who are responsible for utilising the sophisticated software that highlights any suspicious activity. It records evidence and prompts security patrols to apprehend potential criminals.
The increased level of security will not only help in the fight against rhino poaching but also combats other crime in the Waterberg.
~Substantial posts being planted on which LPR cameras are mounted in the Waterberg~
The License Plate Recognition cameras purchased with a substantial grant from The Waterberg Trust are all installed and are live. They use highly sophisticated technology, operating 24/7 to monitor vehicles in the area. Cameras in the neighbouring Greater Marakele Cluster are also being installed and should be live next week, thanks to a grant from TUSK.
Since The Waterberg Trust is a UK registered charity we can apply for grants in the UK, accept CAF cheques and add Gift Aid to maximise donations to Save The Waterberg Rhino. If you would like to help financially, please click here.
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.