Tag Archives: Vaalwater

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.

TWT donors enable learners in the Waterberg to go on a residental course at Lapalala Wilderness School

Thanks to The Waterberg Trust supporters who made this life-changing experience possible

‘Our courses are no longer regarded as a luxury but rather as a vitally important component of the education of all our children, with the message that the health of people is intimately connected with the health of the environment.’ Chairman of Lapalala Wilderness School

 Clearly, one of the best ways of ensuring future conservation is to educate the young people. 

After delays caused by C-19 Lockdown, and floods that washed away the access road, a group of twenty-two teenage students from Meetsetshehla Sceondary School in Valwater were able to attend a week-long environmental course at Lapalala Wilderness School in 2021. TWT hope to send another group from Leseding High School in Vaalwater soon.

Learners from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater learning about rivers

The main objectives of the Environmental Education programme are:

  • To spark an interest and passion for the natural world and the conservation.
  • To share knowledge relating to local and global environmental issues and sustainable living.
  • To demonstrate how individuals can have a positive impact on the environment.
  • To build team spirit and nurture leadership skills.
  • To cultivate an appreciation and respect for a pristine wilderness environment.

Students learn about recycling, biodiversity and gain practical help if they are seeking a career in tourism and wildlife conservation. For further details of the course, please see Lapalala Wilderness School’s website here.

Learning to identify plants of the Waterberg. There are approx 340 different species of trees in the area.
  • Lapalala Wilderness School can accommodate sixty pupils and two teachers who reside at the Wilderness School for five days, under COVID -19 lockdown regulations
  • It costs R 400 (£19) per person per day.
  • For 62 individuals for five days costs R 124,000 (£5,885)
  • Return transport from Vaalwater costs R10,000 (£475)

This is exceptionally good value. All in all, it costs R 134,000 (£6,360) to host a group, fully inclusive of teaching, equipment, food and accommodation.

If you would like to find out how to sponsor another group of children to attend the Wilderness School, please click here

Leaners on a game drive through Lapalala Wilderness where they saw lion and a variety of antelope

The Chairman of Lapalala Wilderness School writes:

‘In this, our 35th anniversary year, our supporters will be delighted to know that all of our environmental education programmes are being enthusiastically received, not only by primary and secondary schools but also by university students already specialising in aspects of the conservation and management of biodiversity.’

‘We have influenced teachers from a variety of schools to embrace and acknowledge the critical role of environmental conservation in many facets of our daily lives, and our work to identify and nurture the conservation leaders and champions of the future through our youth development programme has never been more urgently needed.’

Students learning about nature conservation and the job opportunities in tourism and wildlife management

‘In all of these activities the Lapalala Wilderness School is most fortunate to be able to call on a talented team of passionate and enthusiastic educators, many of whom are today widely recognised as truly inspiring mentors.’

Leadership and communication skills are nurtured on each course.

‘Our citizens must understand and support the need to conserve water catchments, wetlands, and the many species of plants and animals which receive far too little attention, such as the pollinators so essential for food security.’

Thank you letters from some of the students

The children were truly grateful for the opportunity and wrote to thank the director of Lapalala Wilderness School:

A letter written to thank the director of Lapalala Wilderness School

The course fits in with the national curriculum. Sister Grace founded an Environmental Club for schools in Vaalwater. Members tend vegetable gardens and have been taken to local game reserves.

Back at school: some of the students who attended the Lapalala Wilderness course, with Sister Grace
Extending knowledge learned at Lapalala Wilderness in the school veggie garden established by the TWT corporate sponsor in South Africa: Environmental Impact Management Services.

For further details about Lapalala Wilderness School, please click here

Latest news about projects running in the Waterberg

The Hall of Joy at Timothy House was officially opened by the Japanese Embassy and the Mayor of Modimolle. The event was well attended by local dignitaries. This Hall is used for morning activities with the pre-school children and after school activities for those on the Youth Programme.

Cultural Dancers

Stepping Forward ran a very successful campaign Lesodi Village where the reception was incredible. The programme has the potential to have a massive impact on this area as the community are open to the Stepping Forward team and are willing to hear the message of HIV prevention and awareness. Part of the founder’s original vision was to reach such very rural communities surrounding Vaalwater and they were thrilled to hear about the success of this project.

Just one of the guys

 

The Boys2Men soccer team have done extremely well and received a lot of interest, getting to the Nedbank Cup final.

Training sessions in Social Media, Advocacy and Monitoring & Evaluation and Fundraising is being supported by Canadian CBTAF (Technical Aid Fund).

Waterberg Waves are recording HIV Messaging and Songs to compliment the Life Matters Programme on Gig Rig Community and School Outreaches.

Happy faces

Matriculation Results are in. The fourteen children on the Youth Programme taking matriculation exams have all passed. Four received Bachelors and five gained Diplomas. The other five received a standard pass. Many of the students were on the soccer team and came from Alma where Boys 2 Men ran a homework club.

Zach, the Director of Timothy House, married Stefina on 23rd November 2013 at ~ Timothy House, which was a very happy event.

 

July’s Story

July Letsebe in South Africa

“Just eight years ago, July Letsebe was lying on his bed, seriously ill and waiting to die. But thankfully, after discovering he was HIV positive, he was given the right medication, is now healthy, and is helping others to access life saving treatment.

When July first became ill, he refused medical treatment and instead sought the advice of a healer – a common practice in rural parts of South Africa. But after a few months, he was bedridden and barely able to move. He felt desperate. “I asked my family to help me die, but they refused,” he says.

One day, a team of carers from a local project, the Waterberg Welfare Society, visited July’s tiny shack. When they saw how ill he was, they offered to drive him to the government clinic once a day for medical care. At the clinic, July received life-saving treatment for tuberculosis and also discovered that he was HIV positive.

In an incredibly brave step, he decided to reveal his HIV status at a local community event to encourage others to get tested. “People were shocked,” he says, “I could see the expression of disbelief in their faces.”

As he slowly recovered, July started training to become an HIV counsellor so that he could help other people who are living with the virus.

“AIDS does not actually kill people – lack of knowledge about it does,” says July, who manages Stepping Forward, a Comic Relief-funded HIV project in Vaalwater, South Africa. And, as someone who has lived with HIV for almost ten years, he knows what he’s talking about.

Today, thanks to HIV medication, July is healthy and is making sure that other people in remote rural areas of South Africa have access to life-saving HIV testing and treatment.”