Newsletter November 2021

Dear Friends

The one thing we can always be assured of is change! There will always be change. At times this is hard to navigate but for growth it is inevitable. We are in the process of making some big changes but we are confident that we are growing ourselves and our work. From outgoing to incoming and what’s been happening on the ground, we share our progress…

Highlights from Dave and Daphne

Daphne and I have been administering the project for over 12 years and obviously could not carry on forever. The Corona Virus pandemic gave us plenty of time to consider this and plans were made to administer the Khanyisela Project, the BabyBoost programme and the Royal Drakensberg Primary School (RDPS) under one umbrella. They are still running as different projects but a Project Coordinator oversees all three entities.

This transition has now taken place and we have been asked to briefly recount some of our most memorable achievements. These, over the 12 years are too many to list, but we will relate three that we consider to be the highlights.

We have overseen the building of 10 classrooms. We have always been so happy to see the increase in pupil numbers when schools move from very small buildings, (often accommodating less than 10 children), into the new classrooms, and numbers increasing often to 30 and more. In fact the first school we built, Samekelokuhle, now has a second classroom and over 80 pupils.
Samekelokuhle classroom
2 Classrooms

The first Samekelokuhle classroom being built in 2009 and as it is now with two classrooms

Many of the teachers had no formal early childhood (ECD) training and seeing their development after they have attended ECD courses and Grade R courses was always wonderful. Their enthusiasm to use the knowledge they have gained is inspiring. We have had quite a few teachers continue training and move on to Government schools. It was always a shame to lose them but great for their careers. I think the best example was a cook at one of the schools who asked to go on a UNISA Grade R certificate course, which she passed with flying colours. Sibonelelo is now employed at the Royal Drakensberg Primary School. She is also a facilitator of the BabyBoost Programme and studying for a degree in foundation phase teaching.

Dave and I have also learnt so much from this project. Driving around the rural areas and being recognised and loved. Dave was always the stern one who was cross if the classrooms were mismanaged and the playgrounds full of rubbish. We have had lots of laughs when they see our car and the teachers chase the children to pick up the rubbish. We are so pleased to say that the schools are now proud of their standards and are quick to point out improvements. The teachers are proud as they receive many compliments from the parents and the schools that the children graduate to.

There are many other memories, but we think the most satisfying is how much the pre-schools have developed from humble beginnings into well-equipped and staffed schools. There is still more to be done and we wish the new project coordinator, Mike Greeff, and his staff all the best in taking these (which we have come to consider as “our” schools) to new heights. We are confident, with the enthusiasm they have already shown, that they will.

We thank everyone who has assisted the project with donations, both monetary and material over the 12 years we have been involved.

Thank you.

Dave and Daphne

The Khanyisela Project into the future – Mike Greeff

Hesté and I sat in the back of the double cab with Dave driving and Daphne sharing history, background, tips and advice on where the project had come from, where they dreamt of it going, which teachers had what idiosyncrasies and what work still had to be done. The work that lay ahead didn’t bother us, but, would we ever find our way to every school again and still make it home safely?!

And so the excitement began! Hesté and I have spent much time looking forward to our turn to be stewards of the Khanyisela Project. Dave and Daphne have been generous to a fault in sharing their knowledge and setting us up to take, not hesitant steps, but bold new steps into a future that is rich with potential. When other people let you stand on their shoulders you can see far, further than they bravely saw to start with.

We spent many hours working through everything that was needed and then set off on our first solo porridge delivery trip. As I watched Hesté slip into this role in each school and talk to the teachers as if she has been doing this for years, I knew that we had made the right decision. We have the opportunity to continue the work that has gone before and to grow the project in meaningful ways on so many fronts. This is such a compelling story, it just has to be a success.

A major focus that we have taken is to weave the Khanyisela story more closely than ever with the Royal Drakensberg story and the BabyBoost project. The staff at Royal Drak have been wonderful in the support that they have already given to us to enable us to make the project continue and to help it grow. Our intention is to not only focus on the growth of the visible and concrete assets but also the invisible, the intangible, the relationships that are behind this wonderful story. Our job will be to tell the story as widely as we can, to give potential friends and partners every reason to draw closer to us. This at the same time that we stay intimately involved in the community.

The growth of people that Daphne and Dave speak of, the relationship of each ECD centre with us, the support that ultimately benefits so many little people will continue. Our plan is to enhance the project sustainability and our presence in the community through reading programmes, jumble sales, helping to develop plans at each centre and to assist with maintenance where we can. We intend partnering with other bodies who share our vision and intentions in the amaZizi valley. The importance of the sustenance from the porridge deliveries will never be overlooked. We will provide academic support, staff development and the workshops that have become so popular. Most importantly, we will cherish the relationships that have been built and search to grow new ones.

Hesté and I consider it a privilege to be invited to take the baton and run with it. We will look to the experience of the Daves and Daphs around us and we will work toward leaving our own stamp. Our dream is to hand the Khanyisela project on one day, hopefully better but, at least in as good a shape as we received it.

And yes, we made it safely home after our first solo porridge trip.

Khanyisela Teacher Workshop – Heste van Niekerk

Saturday 21st August was the second Khanyisela Teacher Workshop of 2021. Forty-five teachers arrived bright and early at Royal Drakensberg Primary School for a morning of collaboration and learning. The workshop hosted by the RDPS team focussed on using readily available resources that can be incorporated in play to extend learning.

To get all our brains firing everyone joined in and tried their best to do animal themed exercises. It was something to see more than 50 adults crab shuffling and running like cheetahs. With racing hearts and lots of giggles we were all ready to start rotating through the four stations.

The Khanyisela teachers explored playing with leaves, creating art and taking rubbing from the leaves. Many said it was a restful 20 minutes after the exercises.

Ma’am Idah brought local clay from the river and the teachers enjoyed getting messy while thinking about developing fine motor skills like rolling, pinching and squashing. An advantage of using the local clay is that when it gets dry from play, it can just be dunked in a bit of water.

The next station highlighted some everyday objects from our homes that can be used to make games and resources. The humble toilet roll has many uses in an ECD setting. This time they were used for threading and colour recognition.
Teacher workshop
Teacher workshop

At the final station the teachers went on a movement scavenger hunt and played games with found objects. Lots of laughs came from a rhythm memory game which was difficult but so much fun!

We would like to thank the Cavern for providing sandwiches and treats for all during tea times. Thanks to generous donations, each teacher received a beautifully knitted beanie for themselves and Lego to share in the community as well as lots of soap for each school.

Thank you to everyone involved who made it such an amazing day! PS… In the time since the workshop it has been lovely to visit the different ECD Centres and seeing toilet rolls painted ready for threading or the clay mats being used by the children.

amaZizi Reads – Megan Bedingham & Heste van Niekerk

This year we decided to embark on something a little bit different; Community Reading. Our aim is to promote a culture of reading in our community and we have been so fortunate to partner with Book Dash and the Mbuyazis. We felt that adding this element to our existing initiatives would help our community appreciate the value of early and ongoing reading. This would go a long way in supporting language and literacy development and would be a step-up for the children.

So on a warm day in September Phiwayinkosi & Audrey Mbuyazi joined us at Hlelokuhle pre-school in the amaZizi Village. Phiwayinkosi and Audrey have adapted fairy tales and translated them into isiZulu.

We arrived, not really knowing what to expect, but after walking the dusty roads and encouraging the children, we landed up with a group of 30 children! Phiwayinkosi read in isiZulu and Audrey read the English translation. The children were captivated by the stories and willingly answered questions at the end.

amaZizi reads

We shared juice and biscuits and each child took an adapted fairy tale home. They were also gifted with a Book Dash story. The cheerful smiles and “ngiyabongas” expressed their gratitude!

Book Dash’s aim is for every child to own 100 stories in their homes. It seems like a huge target but through our partnerships and our community events, we are slowly making a difference in our community. We’re making strides as “amaZizi Reads”.

To that end, Royal Drakensberg Primary School has started a weekly reading group. Taking turns, two of our teachers are visiting Siqalakahle Crèche on Wednesday afternoons to read in both isiZulu and English.

Teachers and students were a little apprehensive for our first visit but we settled in for a lovely afternoon of reading, singing and dancing. The children really came out of their shells during the isiZulu reading and loved engaging in questions and retelling the story afterwards. Sine and I left feeling overjoyed from the response.
amaZizi reads

amaZizi reads

The next Wednesday was an even bigger success! There were over 30 children, 9 more than previously. Miss Britt cleverly took the school keyboard along and led the group in songs in both languages. We are excited to add song into sessions alongside reading to further support language development. The Khanyisela Project is blessed to receive books from Book Dash that we are sharing with the children who join us in the afternoons.
amaZizi reads
amaZizi reads

The Royal Drak teachers are all looking forward to leading a session. We will have spent 5 sessions at Siqalakahle Crèche by the end of this year. We are excited to see this initiative grow in the New Year.

A Final Word

We bid farewell to Daph & Dave as our administrators but look forward to many more interactions with them through our Boards. And, we welcome Mike Greeff to our team. As our projects merge and we make significant strides together, we promise to keep all our loyal supporters updated.

We are indeed delighted to have your interest and the ongoing support.

Our best wishes,

Megan & Loretta

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