Posts Tagged ‘Rooigrond’

Madiba Combined School in Rooigrond where, in association with the North West University, we successfully hosted a Career Exhibition on the 4th March 2011.

We believe that even learners from backgrounds of poverty, should be empowered with the information they need to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty and make their dreams come true. And to make this happen, we turned Madiba Combined School into a centre of hope, a place where disadvantaged learners can also receive the information required to make things happen.

“Education and empowerment are our greatest tool in the war against poverty…” Koketso Moeti

There is no doubt that education is a powerful means of breaking the cycle of poverty, however, many living in the cycle do not have access to it and those who do, do not have access to information about how to take it further. With empowerment and education being the main tools with which we seek to create positive change in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, it became necessary to empower the learners at the Rooigrond local school, about opportunities available to them.

We partnered with the North-West University, through Mr. Ivan Gontsana, their school liasion officer and successfully hosted a career exhibition at Madiba-Combined School in Rooigrond. During this career exhibition, all the matriculants were provided with application forms for various institutions of higher learning; various bursary application forms and received information, which they have no access to about admission requirements and such. Learners we’re also provided with information about viable alternatives for higher learning such as long distance learning and other options available to them.

Once more we empowered a community, through their children- who are the future.

“No one should have to live without hope, and we can make sure that they don’t. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live lives of comfort and prosperity are the ones that can provide lifesaving relief to millions. It is our obligation to take the necessary action to offer hope where there is none. It is our responsibility to create opportunity that will transform lives. We must focus our efforts to offer possibilities that do not currently exist for a billion human beings in extreme poverty. To not use our abilities to their fullest in the effort to end suffering is disgraceful. We must use our time and talents to extend hope to those who need it most. To do any less is immoral.” Michael Crawley

There is no doubt that hope is the only thing that can keep people going when surrounded constantly by poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence and a host of other negative situations often experienced in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area. In such conditions, hope is as necessary as the air one breathes.

All our efforts are geared at providing hope for this community. Through empowering them; through educating the children and all our operations, we seek to give them hope that change will come- that in time the cycle of poverty will be broken and that they too will rise and go beyond their circumstances.

“A child must learn early to believe that she is somebody worthwhile, and that she can do many praiseworthy things…” ~ Benjamin Mays

Education is an important tool for breaking the cycle of poverty. However, the Rooigrond Early Learning Centre not only ensures that the children receive access to early education; but through the lifeskills element in the curriculum, it also ensures that they learn their value. They are encouraged to believe in their dreams, in themselves and their abilities. This serves to create a sense of self-determination in them from a young age, allowing them to know that their respective circumstances do not make them any less valuable.

All too often we see many young adults in Rooigrond who allow poverty to undermine their sense of worth, something we are changing.

The Rooigrond Early Learning Centre’s learners represent a new generation of Rooigrond, the generation that knows they can rise above any circumstance to pursue their dreams- a generation that knows that, despite their poverty they are just as valuable and important as every other human being…

Losing one’s home is a painful experience, but losing it at the hand of someone you love, is much more worse. This was what a family of eight went through, earlier this year.

It all started with a pair of sneakers requested by one of the children, his parents assured him that he would receive a pair on Friday, when his father- a farm worker would receive his wages. Alas, the farmer for whom he worked did not pay his workers that day, but assured his workers that they would be paid the following day. Little did anyone know what horror would come from his inability to pay his workers that day.

The young man asked for money for his sneakers that very evening. His father explained the situation to him, but reassured him that he would receive the money the following day. The young man stormed out livid and did not go home that night. Upon his return, the following day, the young man found the family home empty. He poured paraffin all over and set the house alight. In that single moment, the family lost not only their home, but everything they possessed, even their Identity Documents, school uniforms, everything.

The young man was arrested for arson, which caused further stress for the family. No parent wants their child in jail, especially not at their hand.

Upon hearing about the family’s situation, we acted to solve the immediate problem, shelter. An entire family, more so with such young children in the household, could not be left homeless. The Local Municipality heeded our pleas and provided a ‘disaster shelter’ for the family to use for six months. With the most immediate problem solved, we could now step to the next, clothing.

Operation Blanket, a Mafikeng based NPO and Project: LAYLA, a programme under their administration were informed of the situation and opened their doors to us. Members of our team, along with Operation Blanket staff sorted clothing for the family, making sure to male their parcels as suitable as possible, including uniforms, school shoes, jerseys and so much more. These parcels were handed to the family, who received so much comfort from the kindness shown to them.

Once more, generosity and kindness, brought hope in what seemed to be a hopeless situation.

“Working together, ordinary people can perform extraordinary feats…”~ Unknown

On the 6th of January 2011, the community of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement once more united and for our Project: Clean-up.

The roads used by learners to go to school are filled with bushes and trees which make the area unsafe for them, as they can’t be seen, when walking through there. To combat this, we mobilised the community for what we call, Project: Clean-up. This project would ensure that the bushes, trees and everything else considered to be hazardous would be cleaned up.

The entire community assisted with this and entire families came out in their numbers. Women, children and men all played their part and so much was done. The local school, Madiba Combined School, was also cleaned up.

Parents came in their numbers and the school yard, toilets and classrooms, were also cleaned as part of Project: Clean-up. The entire project was a great success due to the unified effort of the community. Once more, they showed the power of unity and the safety of our children was the reward.

Very often interventions in areas like the Rooigrond Informal Settlement are unsuccessful, due to a failure to take into account the contexts of such areas.

The challenges faced there are very different from what the average person faces daily. Overcrowding, going long distances for water; poor, if any, sanitation; amongst many more are the reality of many people in rural contexts. We meet these realities daily, but never has one hit home like the ‘cow incident’ earlier this year.

One evening, shortly after midnight, a knock came to our door and we were informed that a cow had fallen into a toilet. The Fire Brigade was called and believing it to be a hoax, they failed to act. The police had no interest in assisting, which left it up to the community to ensure that this animal was safely removed. Fearing broken limbs, a plan was made to dig a trench around the cow , so as to not have to pull it, thereby causing it more distress. This was successfully done.

The above scenario is something that many, if any person in an urban situation would ever go through. It’s such challenges that need to be understood, in order to understand the rural contexts. Some things we never dream possible, are the daily realities of others.

Instead of judging too harshly, let us remember, we don’t understand what another may be facing that makes them the way they are…

The Lutheran Ladies of Lomanyaneng who assisted in our relief efforts in Rooigrond earlier in the year. They have helped live up to our motto, “Together, we can overcome…”

Imagine waking up to the sounds of heavy rain falling against your home and accompanied by terrible lightning, thunder and wind. Whilst listening to it, your roof flies. All you can do is grab your children and lay low, lest the flying corrugated iron sheets that are flying around hurt anyone. You watch helplessly as everything you own is swept away. As the water rises, you realise the need to flee your home. Sounds like something from a nightmare, right…? Well, it was a reality experienced by 40 families in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement.

Earlier in the year, at 23h00 we heard a knock at the door. It came as a suprise since there was very heavy rainfall outside and we opened to find a woman and her 3 soaking wet kids. As they entered we heard the chilling tale of how their shack was swept away by the rain. As we got the children dry and into fresh clothes, more knocks came from the door. We all moved to the Early Learning Centre, as that was the only place that could accommodate everyone.

In that single night, 40 families had lost everything. We sent out SOS messages immediately. The following day, the community came together and assisted to rebuild the shacks which were destroyed. Poles & corrugated iron sheets which had been swept away by the water were found and reused.

The Lutheran Ladies of Lomanyaneng, who had also received a SOS alert were quick to respond and on the 06th January 2011, we successfully co-ordinated an outreach for them in which they gathered in Rooigrond bringing along with them much needed clothes and food for the affected families.

Once more, the kindness of others helped us pull through tough times…

“Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will. “~ Martin Luther King, Jr

Our will power combined with the kindness of others has ensured that our Daily Feeding Program continues successfully. We believe that, no child should ever have to go hungry, when there is enough food in the world for us all.

2011 saw our beneficiaries increasing from 483 kiddies to 556 kiddies. Though not an easy task, with challenges being met often, the Daily Feeding Program has become central to our operations. The knowledge that this is the only meal that most of these children have each day, is not always easy, but has becoming quite a driving force for us.

Playing a part in ending hunger in Rooigrond, not only brings great joy to us, but can make the difference between life and death for these children. Hunger can drive humans into doing things that no person, more so a child, should ever have to do- something that we can all play a part in eradicating.