Wonderbags for use in Masiphumelele

It is pleasing to know that something good came out of the load shedding period that South Africa experienced during 2008. On one of those long dark nights in Johannesburg, Sarah Collins leapt out of bed at two in the morning with a brainwave. She had an idea of how to overcome load shedding and provide economical cooking based on her childhood growing up on a farm in a remote part of the country. She had watched her grandmother bundle blankets and cushions around a hot pot of stew to keep it cooking and conserve her limited fuel. She also remembered watching the San people bury food in the ground while they were cooking and eventually came up with a prototype for a heat-retention cooker, the Wonderbag. After food is brought to a boil, the pot is placed into this heavily-lined bag where it slow-cooks for up to eight hours.

Last week, in association with the City of Cape Town and Greenaudits, we arranged a workshop for 22 cooks from the pre-schools we work with in Masiphumelele to introduce them to the Wonderbag.

The ladies got to sample, rice, soup and stew cooked in the bags and the environmental benefits and cost savings were explained to all attendees.


In the last five years 700, 000 have been sold or donated across Africa and elsewhere in the world. Their use has saved energy use and reduced indoor air pollution from cooking on solid fuels, especially wood. This of course has enormous benefits for the children in a pre-school environment. Smoke inhalation is decreased and burns from cooking fires are minimized. And by freeing up time spent cooking, the Wonderbag gives back time to the pre-school staff to spend more time with the children.

All 22 participants received a Wonderbag for use in their pre-schools and we look forward to seeing them in use in the future.


Elize Reaches the End of the Trail

Many blog readers will be aware of Masicorp volunteer Elize Taylor’s efforts to raise funds for sports facilities at Ukhanyo School by trail running this year. We are pleased to report that she has just completed her final event on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. After the challenges of the mountains in the Cape Winelands and the arid conditions of the Northern Cape / Namibia, this was a very different challenge. The Wild Coast provides sandy beaches and coastal forests, but also many rivers to wade and even swim through. Elize ran from 35 to 44 km per day to complete the 112 km trail in the three days. She has now completed her series of three trail runs for the year – although we have the mention she still found time to run the Cape Town Marathon in between these events!

Elize used Backabuddy to collect funds for Masicorp. The fund raising platform is used by many runners/swimmers/cyclists who can become a “champion” and raise funds for their preferred causes. Typically champions raise around R2000-5000. The final total raised by Elize was a hugely impressive R11,938.16, which will be gratefully received by Masicorp on behalf of the school.


Her Backabuddy page is still open and further donations can be made if you missed the earlier opportunities. Many thanks to everyone that has donated so far and of course huge thanks to Elize herself, who we hope is now getting some much earned rest.

Watch Simphiwe Ndzube on SABC

Every Thursday evening SABC1 screens a programme called 100% Youth. The show describes itself as follows:

The majority of our youth follow populist cultures but there are those who stand out, are grounded and comfortable in non-mainstream cultures and art-forms; the ones who choose the route less travelled.  These youth are not weird; they are independent and ooze a sense of free thinking and confidence, they are 100% youth.

Each week they feature young South Africans that are making a success in creative industries – from recycling entrepreneurs to jeweler makers – and including Masicorp bursary recipient Simphiwe Ndzube, who recently graduated in Fine Arts from UCT.


You can see the full episode featuring Simphiwe HERE – including his return to Masiphumelele library to donate a piece of art.

For further information on 100% Youth – see their Facebook page HERE

To see more of Simphiwe’s art check out his tumblr HERE

Movement lessons for the Masi Educare learners

We are always grateful to the many volunteers that give their time to support our educational projects. Recently we were pleased to receive assistance from Kate Meeser from the Department of Sport Science at Stellenbosch University. Kate gave her time to provide movement lessons to the learners at Masi Educare. You can view her photographs and report on the day below.

On the 26th of August, I was warmly welcomed by Masi Educare to host a small movement lesson for the age five to six-year-old age group. We started off the lesson with a musical dance warm-up and some stretches. The children were divided into four groups that rotated activity stations, spending ten minutes at each station. The activities included a hand-eye throwing task with various aiming skills, a station dedicated to balance and midline crossing, an agility task and target task. All stations included an element of gross and fine motor skills. The children were disciplined and obedient. After the first two rotations they were all working up a sweat while seeming to have a fun time. It was such a privilege being able to have a willing and keen group of children and even more so an involved and interested group of staff members. The session ended with a stretch and song. Hopefully in the future similar event can be held and the children continue to receive the movement education they require at the age.

Kate Meeser

Sport Science Stellenbosch

Let’s Play at Ukhanyo School

Let’s Play is a corporate social responsibility initiative developed by SuperSport and partners to make more children passionate about sport and schools to encourage physical education. Children in South Africa are perceived as becoming alarmingly inactive and many schools do not even include Physical Education (PE) in their curriculum.   At Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele each child takes part in PE activities at least once a week. Their coach, Nceba Jonas (sponsored by Masicorp) works hard to instil a love of sporting activities in all the children under his care. The newly constructed sports court and sprint track at the school have greatly enhanced these sessions of course!

LETS-PLAY-2012-SiyadlalaThe Let’s Play Competition focusses on Grade 4 primary school children and has been developed to encourage and enhance a child’s physical skills of balance, agility, speed and co-ordination.   The incentive to the participating schools is the prize of a brand new sports court valued at R1.1m.    Children from all over South Africa take part each year and this year Ukhanyo Primary School entered for the first time.

A prior date set aside in April had to be postponed due to heavy wind and rain, but notification came through two weeks ago that a new date was set for the competition.   A number of Grade 4’s were chosen to take part and feverish preparations took place during the ensuing PE sessions.

There was thus great excitement at Ukhanyo Primary School on Friday morning 12 August.  The Let’s Play crew arrived to set up and as it was raining heavily, initially said that they could not run the competition as planned.   There was deep disappointment from all the assembled Grade 4 learners, so we scooped them up and drove them all to KFC for chips and Coke.   While on the way there a call came through to say “Come back! – we can do it after all”!

With tummies lacking chips and Coke (thankfully) they hurried back to school and re-assembled under the cover of the school hall (it was still raining lightly) and waited patiently while the obstacle course was set up. A great deal of explanation then took place, followed by demonstrations and practices. The course was deliberately complex and covered a number of key aptitudes that it became clear, are difficult for the children to grasp first time around. The boys and girls lined up separately and they were off, throwing and catching a rugby ball while jumping into coloured hoops, then a series of hopping over bars, rolling a soccer ball  and then a ‘potato race’ of sorts involving strict sequences. Each child took part twice and received a sticker after each go to avoid any avoidance or duplication.  In fact all the children were mad keen to take part!


Coach Nceba played a critical part on the day and learnt from the whole exercise as did the Ukhanyo Primary School teachers who attended. The good news is that we scored well above average and the Grade 4’s of next year will be able to take part again, with a similar course, so Nceba will now be able put his PE classes through their paces with his new insight into the skills and concepts incorporated into the competition by the Let’s Play team.

We wait with bated breath to hear how Ukhanyo Primary School fared in comparison with other Western Cape schools who entered.

Celebrating Our Life-Skills Graduates

To celebrate Women’s Day we present an image gallery from last months life-skills graduation ceremony. Masicorp, working in partnership with Evangeline Ministries, provides a ‘Life Skills’ course for women in Masiphumelele with little or no previous education. The course takes six months and teaches basic English, computer and sewing Skills.

All of the ladies shown here completed the course in six months and are proudly displaying the items they produced.

Graduation 13



Graduation 11


Graduation 12

All photographs courtesy of Louise de Waal at Green Girls in Africa

Great Progress at the Maths Lab

Maths and science education in South Africa continues to be a problem area according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness report. While the methodology used in the report has been questioned it is painful to see the standard of maths education in South Africa ranked at 138 out of 140 countries in the 2015/16 report.

labIt is therefore encouraging to see the success of the Maths Lab at Ukhanyo Primary School. The lab has now been in full operation for three school terms.  In this short time, we have happily watched our “test group” of 250 grade-4 learners and their 4 teachers embrace this new learning environment.  In a very short period of time, teachers have seen that children crave a school in which they get to experience daily success with hands-on activities; an environment where the learning is fun. Even better, knowledge retention has increased and behaviour problems have decreased.

After only 12 months of operation, the mid-year tests showed that students had moved from the previous year’s 16% pass rate to a 33% pass rate.  At the end of 2015, the end-of-year scores were even higher!  In 2014 17% of the 4th grade passed the end-of-year test, while in 2015 52% of the students passed!


The Maths Team would like to expand the Lab next year with tablets and laptops as we are envisioning a “flipped classroom” in which advanced students could move forward in self-paced instruction.   This would challenge the advanced students while providing additional motivation for the ones who are struggling.   The use of i-pads would provide access to online programs such as the Khan Academy, ensuring that there are literally no limitations on how far a motivated student can advance.

At a time when the news media is bemoaning the state of Maths education in South Africa, we are excited by what we see happening at Ukhanyo. Scores are improving dramatically, and we are seeing first-hand what happens when both teachers and students are exposed to new learning methods and improved teaching resources.