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.
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.
Volunteers help purchase and pack food parcels for about fifty individuals within family groups.
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.
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.
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
Sister Grace revisited existing beneficiaries this September and October, identifying those needing help and support in the Waterberg region.
A total of 50 beneficiaries received food parcels this month. Sister Grace says, “I make sure there’s no overcrowding at the supermarket as per Covid-19 regulations.”
Some beneficiaries send family members or friends to collect food parcels on their behalf.
PROGRESS: Good relationships with stakeholders such as the South African Police, the local Government Clinic and the Department of Social Development, enable members of the community to be referred effectively and receive the help they need. It’s good to receive timely feedback after interventions so progress can be monitored.
Some families received food parcels from political leaders during campaign events. Others were promised employment and short term contracts in areas such as road maintenance. This will ensure many families have an income to provide for their families.
Many learners have access to daily meals at various schools and are occupied with their studies.
Sister Grace says, “As lockdown restrictions have been reduced, many people are back at work.” However, there is still need in the community. She has been using ‘Acts of Mercy’ funds to help a number of teenage orphans who are in school:
Job opportunities are being offered for longer periods.
Some community members were offered free skills development in hairdressing so that they can find employment or run their own hair salons
Teenage girls from surrounding Schools were blessed with disposable sanitary pads donated by Horizon Horseback clients who also gave R500 cash towards Acts of Mercy.
The Waterberg Trust is raising funds to equip all schoolgirls in the Waterberg with sustainable eco-sanitary pads, as you can read here, but these disposables are a welcome stop-gap.
Even the smallest gift will help Sister Grace continue her work helping the needy in the Waterberg. If you would like to make a donation, please click here for contact details. Funds are very carefully spent and are hugely appreciated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nursing Sister Grace writes, “I worked with the Social Development team, making home visits and registering those in need of social support, while helping those who are eligible to apply for the Social Relief Distress Grant (SRD). Many people were successfully registered and will be able to receive the grant as planned by the Government. Foreign nationals who have valid identification passports were also registered. During the registration process the Department of Social Development handed out food parcels to identified families and those with passports. Political leaders also distributed clothes, blankets and sanitary pads to the community.”
I REFERRED 25 UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE TO REGISTER FOR A SOCIAL RELIEF GRANT WHICH WAS SUCCESSFUL AND 15 WILL RECEIVE MONTHLY FOOD PARCELS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
SCHOOL CHILDREN CONTINUE TO ACCESS DAILY MEALS FROM THE SCHOOL FEEDING SCHEMES
“Employment opportunities were created in our municipality. Members of the community, including youth, were hired by the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) to work in different allocated sectors. This helps many families receive an income. More informal traders are selling farm produce and other items. Some families have vegetable gardens on their premises, which help to generate income and supplement meals.”
Essential supplies and costs have increased, which leads to many families running out of food before the month end.
Dysfunctional families don’t buy food for their dependents in spite of having an income.
An elderly man, the uncle of a mentally ill beneficiary who is under our monthly care and support, was physically beaten and injured by his son. The matter was reported to the local police for further investigation.
Alcohol consumption is a huge problem. Some people buy alcohol rather than food.
Increase in teenage pregnancy
FOOD PARCELS WERE DISTRIBUTED TO 58 INDIVIDUALS IDENTIFIED AS NEEDY
BENEFICIARIES PACK THEIR OWN FOOD PARCELS. THOSE WHO CAN’T REACH THE SUPERMARKET HAVE THEIRS DELIVERED BY VOLUNTEERS
We continue to knit blankets, jerseys and shawls, which are distributed to those in need. A big thank you to the dedicated ladies who do the knitting. Wool is purchased with money kindly donated by supporters.
Sister Grace says, “I reached out to the community and encouraged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The number of those receiving the vaccine has been amazing for both adults and youth. The local clinic keeps me posted on the availability of vaccines. I stress the importance of taking treatment for chronic conditions, as prescribed and educate family members on health, basic hygiene and access to contraceptives for teenagers.”
Donations, however modest, are hugely appreciated. Funds are spent very carefully. If you would like to help support the poor in the Waterberg, please click here
Sister Grace reports, ‘It has been a challenging time.’ Tighter Lockdown regulations were imposed on South Africa in June 2021 to reduce the risk of Corvid 19 spreading, however the vulnerable and terminally ill continue to need special care and support.
You can watch President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on 15th June 221 here:
CHALLENGES encountered in Vaalwater in July 2021:
Our Community has seen an increase in substance and drug addiction amongst the youth. Boys below the age of 20 have been found injecting drugs using the same syringe and needles. They looked violent. (The Police were informed and are currently monitoring the situation)
Increase in community theft has been reported
Some children have never been to school and keep wandering around, begging money.
Essential food supplies prices went up in July due to violent attacks in some parts of South Africa, which resulted in stock shortages.
Some beneficiaries have become dependent on receiving food parcels and do not want to work nor do piece jobs to earn income
Gender based violence occurs in some families due to lack of income and employment
Orphaned children lack parental care and support
Social gatherings and alcohol sales continue without adhering to Corvid 19 protocols
Sister Grace has been able to visit the needy and supply relevant needs.
Some members of the community have been offered short-termemployment within the town and surrounding lodges
School children are back at school and able to access meals from the feeding scheme program
The Social Relief Grant has been extended to help the unemployed to provide for their families
The Department of Social Development continues to provide food parcels to those registered in their system.
The Waterberg Trust aims to fill the gap by helping vulnerable people without papers who Social Services can not help.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that, ‘Substance abuse is becoming a serious problem. We will have to work on a local solution, but that is easier said than done!’
There are many different ways in which you could help or become involved. If you would like to find out how you can make a donation to The Waterberg Trust, please click here
We will continue to provide food parcels and donated items to those in need, conducting routine assessments, home visits and health education.
Sister Grace works with the local clinic, the South African Police, Social Development, local churches and community leaders to ensure TWT is well informed and the needy can access support.
Food parcels are being distributed in the Waterberg to support 113 needy people. Dr Peter Farrant says, “It is a busy time as temperatures are dropping significantly and winter is imposing herself!”
Sister Grace writes to say: I continued my routine home visits to identify new beneficiaries, checking up on previous ones and teaching basic health education to families and their children. This includes preventive measures to curtail the spread of the common cold, regular hand washing and the importance of wearing masks when in public places. I noticed that many people are ignorant about the need to wear masks when interacting with others.
-Sister Grace in the Waterberg-
Some beneficiaries have found employment while others have relocated to their families. Those with valid documentation were referred to the Social Development for continuity of food parcel support.
I managed to locate the Mozambican family who are related to the mentally disabled person who stands by the roadside near Build- It hardware shop. I referred this matter to the Social Worker and the Police Victim Support unit but it is taking too long to get him transferred to hospital for proper psychological assessment and treatment. A concerted effort is being made to take the man to the local district hospital using the SAPS. The plan is to manage his mental illness and provide shelter.
CHALLENGES: I came across 2 teenage mothers who had family disputes with their parents. They were left without food for days. I managed to conduct family meetings and distributed food parcels to the children. They are continuing to attend school. One girl is in grade 10 at Meetsethehla School, aged 17 years, the other in grade 12 at Lesideng High School, aged 18 years.
–We equip some learners without parents with school uniform–
Some Youths are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse even at school which leads them to scholastic and learning failure and in the community to theft and gender-based violence.
I found it difficult to locate those needy families living in informal settlements as the addresses are not properly indicated, however those with phone contacts were able to be assisted.
Many foreign residents on chronic medication had poor adherence due to lack of understanding and the language barrier as they could not speak the local language nor English. I involved local caregivers who could translate and explain clearly.
– FAMILY MEMBERS COLLECT FOOD PARCELS ON BEHALF OF THEIR SICK RELATIVES –
PROGRESS: School children have access to meals on daily basis and are attending school.
Social Workers and religious groups help distribute food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable.
Community members have been offered temporary employment within the community and private sector which enables them to supply their families.
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable and provide needed support i.e. food parcels, nutritional supplements, clothing warm blankets and psychosocial counselling.
The need for shelter for the homeless was discussed at an Elders meeting. The plan is to improve our existing shelter and to manage it more effectively. It is important to ensure that it is used for limited periods per person, so that it is not occupied permanently, as is the case at present.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that Sister Grace is continuing to do good work at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater where she is based. She spends one day a week at Lesideng High School and visits Mokolo and Mahlasedi primary schools once a week.
Dr Farrant says, “Recently the need for school nurse counsellors has been recognised by the Government. Whether they introduce such appointments is to be seen. Thank you for your financial support for this position! There is no doubting Grace’s beneficial presence at all the schools.”
SCHOOL REPORT FROM FEBRUARY – APRIL 2021
Schools re-opened and learners have been attending in a phased manner without interruptions or serious issues. Sister Grace says, “All Corvid–19 protocols concerning prevention, with regular hand washing and social distancing are adhered to. Staff and learners sign a daily register after being screened and temperature recorded.” This is to detect abnormalities before anyone enters the school premises. About 400 learners are screened on daily basis.
“Classrooms and offices are sanitized regularly. Learners are well-informed about all the precautions and educated on general hygiene measures and risks of cross infection. When they present flu-like symptoms, they are thoroughly checked and screened to rule out common colds. If severe symptoms arise they are referred to the clinic for further management and treatment.”
The Matric results for two Secondary Schools:
Some passed to study at various universities and colleges, while others got only a normal pass. They were given chance to register and rewrite any subjects failed.
Meetsetshehla High School – (Total number of leaners 94. 63% passed)
Leseding High School – (Total number of learners 17. 94.1 % passed)
Increased number of teenage pregnancies with an unwillingness to report until discovered in their last trimester
Learners dropping out of school for no reason with some involved in domestic theft
Alcohol and drug abuse among the leaners with some caught with dagga and cigarettes on school premises
Fatigue due to pressure of school work as learners have to attend school for long hours in order to catch up on lost time. They have many assignments and homework to be completed
Learners who walk a distance to and from school are unable to do all assignments as they arrive home late, tired upon arrival
Over-aged learners who keep repeating in the same class are a bad influencer on newcomers, however disciplinary hearings were conducted
Absconding from school during break time without permission from the teacher.
The Department of Education appointed and employed educational teacher assistants and general workers to work for a short term period (3 months) in surrounding schools. This has helped a lot as the workers assist with cleaning school premises, packing and distributing books to learners, filing and photocopying.
E-learning programme based at Meetsetshehla High School run by Leseding Education Network, through the Northern Education Trust, will help those needing extra classes do their assignments, download study guides and be able to learn live experiments according to their curriculum. (Learners from surrounding schools are using this opportunity. They attend the classes at Meetsetshehla.)
Matriculants are attending school on a daily basis to ensure they are well prepared and able to catch up on studies
Teachers are willing to help learners who need special assistance in certain subjects
The feeding scheme continues to provide meals for learners on daily basis as a nutritional supplement, including fruit and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet.
ONE LEARNER IS ATTENDING ONGOING COUNSELING ON SUBSTANCE AND DRUG ABUSE AND ALSO HAS A COURT CASE, ACCUSED OF RAPE. HE’S IN GRADE 10 AM AND 19 YEARS OLD.
UNDISCIPLINED LEARNERS ATTEND DISCIPLINARY MEETINGS FROM THEIR TEACHER AND PARENTS ARE NOTIFIED.
THE GOOD NEWS:
We have started environmental activities with learners from grade 8 – 11, who have formed a club that will be involved in recycling and gardening. This will help them demonstrate life orientation tasks and projects. Members are grouped in sixes to limit overcrowding. Each group has been assigned to a specific task and will work closely with the teacher assistants on particular days. The garden has just been set up and will benefit learners with nutritional supplementation through the feeding scheme and Hospitality Studies.
THESE LEARNERS ARE MOZAMBICAN NATIONALS ARE ASSISTED WITH FOOD PARCELS. BOYS ALSO RECEIVED SCHOOL UNIFORM AND WINTER WEAR.
144 girls need washable sanitary pads. A message was sent to our kind sponsor Andrew Smith who is willing to transport a box from Pretoria.
If you would like to find out how to make a donation via The Waterberg Trust in the UK to enable Sister Grace to buy school uniform or washable sanitary packs, please click here.
Grade 8 learners were welcomed, orientation was given, with basic hygiene measures and menstrual issues explained to girls.
All grade 9 learners were educated on HIV/AIDS, TB, STIs, lifestyle diseases and ways of prevention and treatment. This is linked to Life Orientation studies.
Learners are helped with career guidance. This helps them to work hard in certain subjects to reach their dream careers.
I attended various meetings with stake-holders such as the Department of Social Development, the South African Police and community leaders. Issues of gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, substance and alcohol abuse were discussed. The police are ready to work with the community and help to clamp down on those involved in dealing in illegal drugs, which leads to gender-based violence and domestic theft.
Social workers are involved in identifying social problems in the communities and help those who needed social support through counseling and providing basic needs like food and temporary shelter.
199 LEARNERS WERE CONSULTED INDIVIDUALLY. THE REST WERE ADDRESSED IN CLASSES
PREGNANT – 18 (10 Meetsetshehla & 8 from Leseding High Schools)
ASTHMATIC – 6 (1 Learner was admitted to hospital with a severe asthmatic attack but she’s much better)
COUNSELING – 30 (HIV, & STI, substance abuse, promiscuity, bereavement and family planning)
DISCIPLINARY ISSUES – 15 (Late-comers, improper uniform, unable to complete school work, and trouble-makers)
MINOR AILMENTS – 35 (Menstrual issues, headaches, dizziness, scabies, earache and tooth ache)
LEARNING PROBLEMS – 40 (20 from Meetsetshehla and 15 from Leseding High Schools)
CONTRACEPTIVE REFERRALS – 55 (teenage learners who are sexually active were referred to the local government clinic)
To encourage more learners to use the E-Learning programme, which will benefit and empower them through extra tutoring and learning
I will continue with health education and screening to all learners and encourage them on the importance of prevention of various illnesses.
I will continue to help leaners with life orientation topics related to health and nutrition.
Schools will be closed for a week from 23rd April and reopen on 3rd May 2021 . Those in grade 12 will continue to have extra lessons.
Sister Grace writes to say, “I continued with routine assessment through home visits to reach out to those with social problems due to various issues and also monitor those who are chronically ill to ensure they are taking their medication as prescribed.” She was able to refer 5 families to the social development for application of ID documents and social grants for their children.
“I do co-ordinate with network partners who are involved in supporting the community with food distribution and other social relief. These are religious groups from various churches, party representatives and youth organizations.”
Job loss as a result of the country’s economic challenges due Covid-19 restrictions
Poor living conditions in informal settlements with no proper sanitation or irregular water supply.
Lack of knowledge and information about the Covid-19 pandemic and preventative measures, which leads to many not taking the proper precautions of wearing masks and regular hand wash. “I interviewed about 20 elderly people who were not wearing masks and they simply said they don’t see a reason to wear a mask when the virus is not known in the community and they have no proper information about the infection and risks. After proper explanation about ways of transmission and signs and symptoms they understood and willing to adhere to preventive measures.”
3 chronically ill foreign nationals who have no family support were referred to homebased carers for regular monitoring.
Food parcels and clothes were distributed to needy people
The Government extended the Social Relief Grant by three months to ensure those unemployed are able to provide food for their families during this Lockdown period.
A homeless man was assisted with a bus ticket to return back to Cape Town and was grateful for the assistance rendered.
DONATIONS of clothes, reusable sanitary towels, beanies and stationary from the Christians of St John’s Baptist Church at 24 Rivers came at the right time when schools reopened. These essentials were handed out to the less privileged learners and others in the community. Those who received the donated items and food parcels were grateful.
Sister Grace says, “I will continue to distribute food parcels as per scheduled during mid-month of March and emergency needs will be attended to immediately.” You can read about some of here home visits earlier in the year here.
“During home visits, I came across a teenage mom who had delivered a baby girl. She lives with her grandparents and her siblings as they lost their parents long ago. I examined the baby who looked healthy. The teenage mom wants to go back to school in her final grade and will leave her baby with her grandmother who will support baby from her pension and buy formula. The father to the baby is unknown. I brought baby clothes and a food parcel, counselling the mother about proper care of her baby and the risks of malnutrition if the baby is not properly fed.”
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.