The wonderbag is a modern version of the ‘hay box’ or way our grandmothers used to cook the Christmas ham and put it in a blanket in the sofa. Its a slow cooker which saves money, time and electricity while at the same time reduces carbon emissions.
During the recent POP Easter school holiday programme one morning 100 young leaders from six different rural communities learnt how to make a pot of rice, lentils and curry in a Wonderbag. Each Wonderbag had been donated via Ingrid’s Facebook page over Christmas by friends all over the world and was destined for a poor family. The food was put on the stove for 5 minutes and then popped into the bag and taken with much excitement out to their own families where they are going to monitor how much electricity they save by using the Wonderbag on a regular basis for cooking.
Our pre-school children made a big effort to dress up for Valentine’s Day celebrations. I thought you might like to see our latest batch of babies seen here with their carers –
Sussy, Yvonne and Sannah.
A big thank you to all the people who sent good wishes to little Johannes and especially to Tony and Anne in France who have agreed to sponsor his schooling this year and Aly and Riley in Wales who sent us a gift with which to buy him winter clothes and his first school uniform. He started proper school in Grade 1 in mid January. Here are a few pictures which will surely warm your hearts. The good news is that the school bus now collects him from a spot close to his farm so he does not have to walk all those kilometers with his Mum every day.
We are blessed with such wonderful friends…
My blog about little Johannes had only been up for about 12 hours when I got a wonderful e-mail from Aly Thoma and Riley Williams in Wales who offered to send us R1000 for rainwear and warm clothing for Johannes and his Mum. Really fabulous. Aly and Riley have both visited the Path out of Poverty Programme in the past and they got really ‘hands on’ involved with the children. Thank you both so much for being incredibly generous. I am going to have such fun seeing them back at school on the 19th in warm clothes.
Shortly after that I received an e-mail from Tony and Anne Goodliffe in France. They have also visited us and are very loving and compassionate people . They have promised to give us the money for two bicycles- one for Mum and one for Johannes. !! I must confess I didnt think of bikes as a possible solution to our problem !! Before accepting this fabulous gift we want to just make sure that we can teach them both to ride. So we’ll be getting back to you shortly Tony and Anne.
Here at Path Out of Poverty we constantly hear very sad stories of child poverty, hunger and suffering. Generally we react in one of two ways – either we get discouraged by the endless poverty and feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean ( but its our little drop and your drop and between us we can make a wave !) or we just want to weep with joy at the courage children show in very difficult situations.
The other afternoon I heard the story of Johannes and I share it with you. Earlier in the year, due to the global meltdown and general lack of funding for transport we had to make the tough decision to limit the routes that our school bus travels on bad gravel road to pick up children from farms. 8 breakdowns and financial pressures forced us to do this . 20 pre-schoolers fell off the list but one family made a plan. 6 year old Johannes Nobangola, a little boy in our Grade R class and his mother decided to walk to school each day. The amazing thing is that the farm where they live is 11 km from Goedgedacht !! This means that this little fellow and his Mum walk 22 km each day, just to make sure that he gets a good education.
Johannes was not absent from school once last term and we fully expect him to come back after the winter holidays. We are so proud of his courage and determination. We are’nt proud of our inability to collect Johannes anymore, but we are really proud of him and his mother for their incredible sacrifice.
It’s really cold at the moment and I am worried about them next term as he often arrives sopping wet. If there is anyone out there would be prepared to sponsor a raincoat and pair of wellies for Johannes I would be so very grateful. You can get me on firstname.lastname@example.org ….it would help to make sure that he continues his brilliant record of getting to school each day. Thanks so much.
We started this extended winter school holiday programme due to the 2010 soccer world cup which is currenty held in South Africa in absolute faith and almost no funding. Many organizations had to cancel or reduce their school holiday programmes due to the lack of funds but we were determined to make sure that our POP children receive a 20 day school holiday programme . Why? Because if no programme was offered 300 POP children from as young as 6 years old would have been very hungry and pretty much left in their own care while their parents are working. An educational support week was offered to all school going children and youth on farms in the Riebeeksrivier Valley, in Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West from Monday, 14 June 2010 – Friday, 18 June 2010 to kick-start the holidays. About 100 high school learners were given the opportunity every morning to get assistance with understanding the questions that they receive in their exams and assignment papers better, find out which career is most suitable for each one of them by using the PACE Career Computer Programme, an introduction to human rights and our South African Constitution with a specific focus on children’s rights and a visit to PPC Cement Factory in Riebeek West to learn more about the practical aspects of engineering and accounting.
As part of our servant youth leadership programme which is the core of POP’s youth project our high school learners spent their afternoons helping the primary school learners to improve their reading, writing and counting skills. It was incredible to witness how sincere and compassionate the older youth acted towards the younger ones who were clearly struggling to write their own names, do simple maths and read a fairy tale. One of the older youth took her role as a “teacher” so serious that she arrived at the centre one day with a pair of handmade glasses that covered her whole face!
My eyes were filled with tears of joy and thanks giving almost every night when I reflected on each day’s activities because even though our work might seem so small (a tiny drop in the ocean) in comparison with the immense needs that exist in our rural communities it was nice to know that every single one of the 300 POP children had smiles on their faces and full tummies for at least one week during the school holiday period thus far. I appreciated this fact even more after a young 15-year old girl broke into tears on Friday while she thanked us for feeding her this past week because they had no food at home.
Thank you Simon Occleshaw (in the picture) for putting your body on the line by completing a triathlon in the UK to help us make a real difference in the lives of 300 vulnerable, hungry and voiceless rural children and youth. We appreciate it very much and can’t begin to tell you what your effort means to our POP children and us. Also thank you to Swartland Municipality, West Coast Dirstrict Municipality, PPC Riebeek West, Western Cape Department of Education and all our other sponsors, facilitators, community volunteers and staff members who made this winter holiday programme possible and truly enjoyable. This is not the end though. Its only the end of chapter on in our edition of our four week long winter school holiday programme.
Today, we have started our arts and culture week which will run from Monday, 21 June 2010 – Friday, 25 June 2010. I will update you on this week’s activities which will no doubt be lots of fun because on Friday we will be hosting a Germany vs South African day with our visitors from Germany. If you want to follow this please keep reading Annie’s blog and do send us your comments and suggestions. We would love to hear from you.
Till next time……
The soccer world cup spirit did not escape the rural farming community that Goedgedacht Trust is part of. On Friday morning we heard loud voices singing and vuvuzelas blowing as the staff arrived in the bus for work. We set up a big screen television on the farm and made a potjie (pot of food on an open fire) for everyone to enjoy. There was face painting, music, laughter and of course learning to Diski Dance. It was a great spirit of unity and we are all very proud to be South African and I must say we are all behind BAFANA BAFANA!
Please watch this space because it is in this wonderful spirit of achievement that POP will be starting its four week long school holiday programme on Monday, 14 June 2010. The first week will give an opportunity to more than 300 children and youth from farms, Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West to improve their reading and numeracy skills as well as expose them to basic children’s rights. We will post some pictures during the week and wish all our staff best of luck with this major operation.