Nandi Sithole from the SACBC AIDS Office visits King Williams Town, Diocese of Port Elizabeth
On the first day I had a meeting with management, Coceka the coordinator, Felicity the finance officer, Nomonde the M&E officer and Mrs. Mpande a retired teacher who has also joined the team and is responsible for initiating a project called green house schools. She goes around in the local schools and encourages them to start gardens and hot ports. Hot ports are bags that are sewn and sold to the public that work as wonder cookers to minimise the use of electricity and fires to preserve the environment.
The team reported that so far they haven’t had major challenges in running the project since Dr. Musaba passed away. She was very transparent in the operations of the project, and as a result it was easy for them to take over where she left off.
They reported that they currently have one thousand and twenty two children registered in the project. Their challenge however is that they normally deregister children from the program when they graduate to high school. They found out that most of them still require the assistance of the project in order to remain in school. I suggested that they look into the matter closely and decide as a project if they will be able to cope with the number of children including those who have been promoted to high school if they decide to retain them.
Finances: the finance officer reported that they need to look into their budget for the next financial year very closely as they will need to employ at least two care workers in Keiskamahoek under the SACBC grant because they are currently assisted by a partner organisation for information needed regarding schools in that area. The challenge is that sometimes information arrives late in the office because those care workers don’t work five days a week. Hence the need to have at least two working for SACBC OVC programme in the area.
Once off funding: they received once off funding for home repairs and they repaired seven homes. We visited one in particular that had burnt down completely and they we able to reconstruct it. It’s finished except for the installation of electricity. The local counsellor promised to have that installed once the repairs are finished. The coordinator reported that the mother was very negligent on the night when the house burnt down. The children were alone in the house and they were rescued by a neighbour from the blazing fire of the burning house.
Second day we did school visits:
The first school we visited in Keiskammahoek was Masonwabe Junior primary school headed by an old lady Ms. Xala. She was happy to finally have the opportunity to see someone from our office and thank us personally for the uniforms the project is assisting the children with. Her concern was also the children who are deregistered when graduating to high school and yet they still need assistance. The coordinator assured her that their office is attending to that.
We proceeded to visit two other schools in the area, Sophumelele and Khayalabantu primary schools. In both schools the teachers together with the Principals of the schools were happy and very grateful for the school uniforms among other things that the children benefit from through the project.
We proceeded to Dimbaza where we also visited two schools, Nobuntu senior primary and Dimbaza primary. The welcome was very warm and the gratitude of those teachers was beyond our expectations. We were allowed to take pictures with the children and some of the teachers. In Nobuntu they have a container that was turned into a library. The teachers reported that they encourage the learners to borrow books from the library to read at home in order to improve their reading skills. The library is also run by the children themselves which was very interesting. The teachers at Nobuntu requested that the project collaborate with them in starting an afterschool care programme where they engage the children in different fun and skilled activities in order to keep them out of mischief. The coordinator promised to get back to them regarding that issue as it was one of the issues that was discussed the previous day during our management meeting.
All the schools mentioned are all interested in becoming a green house school as Ms Mpande was distributing some of the materials for that project in those schools.
Masonwabe Junior primary school in Keiskammahoek, these are some of the children who received uniforms from SACBC AIDS office through PE Diocesan AIDS committee.