The Home of Love is Handed Back to the Community

Back in August 2013 we reported on the building work that began at Ekhaya Lothando pre-school in Masiphumelele. Known locally as the Home of Love the pre-school refurbishment was one of Masicorp’s biggest projects last year. Last Friday the completed pre-school was formally handed back over to the community. As we stood in the summer sun with children playing in their new modern facilities it seemed a million miles away from the mud and rubble that surrounded the old building last winter.  Many thanks are due to everyone who helped take the site from the open ground on the left of the picture below to the impressive classrooms on the right.


None of this would have been possible without help from the Friends of the African Child Education (FACE) from the UK who raised an incredible £42,000, in a little more than a year to refurbish the building. After numerous fundraising activities, which have been well documented in blogs on these pages, the group finally made it to Cape Town and spent their first few days putting the finishing touches on the building. Once everything was completed the group assembled together with the Masicorp team to hand over the crèche.

Rion & PrisSeen here is the principal, Priscilla, with her daughter and Rion, our man in Masiphumelele, who provides an invaluable link between the community and our volunteer work force. Priscilla was a little overwhelmed with everything but was extremely grateful for all the work that has been done on site. Crucially she is a qualified pre-school teacher and together with the upgraded infrastructure at the school  – including classrooms, fully functioning toilet block, kitchen and food preparation area – the school has nick jenkins2everything in place to meet the core requirements of the DSD [Department of Social Development] registration process. Once registered the pre-school will receive a state subsidy for each child and its sustainable future is assured. Currently only three of the 28 pre-schools in Masiphumelele meet the standard required for registration, which emphasizes just how significant this project has been for Priscilla and the 34 children she looks after. The paperwork and administrative tasks required to get there are now the focus of Masicorp’s activity for the school.

It was finally left to the FACE group to deliver a few speeches of their own and tell the fascinating story of how they came to work together and fund this project. Much revolves around the organisation of Nick Jenkins (seen here), who took the project on as a celebration of a significant birthday. The team have enjoyed a well-earned break in the Wineland’s and Camps Bay and will have enjoyed the warm weather that we are enjoying at the end of the summer. We cannot thank everyone at FACE enough and look forward to staying in touch with them in the future as Ekhaya Lothando goes from strength to strength.

kids & face

Farewell (for now) to our Founders

Masicorp volunteers from across all of our projects and many of the partners we work with in Masiphumelele gathered in the library yesterday for a well-earned ‘thank-you’ session. For several weeks now Masicorp’s founders John and Carol Thompson have been in Cape Town, together with Jane Philippi from the US funding team. Although John and Carol have ‘retired’ from active duty in South Africa they remain Directors and have a keen interest in all of our projects. In recent weeks they have once again become familiar faces around Masiphumelele.

US TeamIn a few days they fly home the States so this was a final chance to them to say their thanks to everyone. John was generously given five minutes to sum up the history of Masicorp and did a fabulous job of keeping to time (well almost). Volunteers new and old in the audience all learned something new. For those of us living in the area, change sometimes seems to happen slowly in Masiphumelele but John summed up the progress made in his time by referring to the number of formal brick houses now visible on every street, whereas it was all wooden shacks when Masicorp began their work.

Library March09 004The venue, in the library, was symbolic as it was one of the first buildings that Masicorp built for the residents. Its success has seen it become administered by the City of Cape Town and yesterday also marked its reopening after a six week period of improvements by the city. Most notably the reception desk is now directly facing you as you enter the building allowing the staff to provide a genuine welcome as you arrive. It is much more than aesthetics of course with so many learning programs run form the library by Masicorp and other NGO’s. Sue Alexander, the head librarian, also took the time to say a few words and welcomed everyone back to the new look library. She was pleased to inform us that Masicorp’s projects remain the “icing on the cake” that the City of cape Town’s support provides.

As ever Nonny’s Bakery provided excellent cakes and thanks must go to all the volunteers who were left behind the counter pouring drinks. Most of all we thank John and Carol for establishing Masicorp and their ongoing support –  and we wish them a safe trip back home.

The Finishing Touches to Ekhaya Lotando

We have been privileged to host the FACE group from the UK last week as they put the finishing touches to Ekhaya Lotando pre-school in Masiphumelele.

After many months of fund raising in the UK the group arrived in Cape Town ready to grab hold of paint brushes and get to work….. paint2

On the outside…..


paint1On the inside…..


 And finally getting the classrooms in order.

cupboards In the meantime the rest of the FACE group took the 36 children and three teachers from Ekhaya Lotando on outings to Imhoffs Farm and the Cape Town Science Centre. Here they are on a well-deserved day out.

kid1kid2kid3Everything has run to time (no mean feat here in Africa) and the school was ready for its handover by the end of the week.

Meeting Up With The New Bursary Students

Last weekend we had the chance to meet up with the new and existing bursary students and find out how their first few weeks of study at university was progressing. The first social event of the new academic year was a picnic on the fields of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) campus in Belville. Events such as this allow the students to meet each other and share their experiences as they are otherwise spread out at campuses and residences across the city. There were one or two comments from the new students who, after three weeks of study, were just starting to realize how different to high school their university courses will be.

Picnic (8)Being able to meet and mix with the students from the years above them is a big help for the newcomers and several of the new recruits were given advice by the existing students. The 2014 intake is very much the opposite of the 2013 intake, which saw four female students and just one male student join the program. This year there are four male students and just one female. The courses they have selected are also very different.

Simthembile Mlindi is studying Mechanical Engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to satisfy his passion for designing and building devices.  His friend, Siphoxolo Melamane, is also at CPUT, but because he is studying agriculture he is based at their rural campus in Wellington rural campus in Wellington – a first for the program.

The other new students are based at UWC. Siviwe Makeleni is studying law, with a long term view to bring justice to local communities and tackle the corruption issues that are endemic in South Africa. Phumlani Mtshawuli was initially interested in teaching but has ultimately decided to study social work. Yolandi Sigodi is the sole female student and is taking biotechnology, which has been a popular option in recent years. She has several older students on the program that she can turn to for advice.

picnic campusOn a roasting hot summers afternoon it was a great turnout with 12 of the existing students taking time out to join us. Thanks must go to Masicorp volunteer Elize Taylor (seen here amongst the students) for coordinating the event, shuttling various students to and from residences and providing a large hamper of goodies.

Kathy Bergh – running for Sibabalwe crèche

Masicorp was delighted to be contacted recently by Kathy Bergh. Although Kathy now lives in the UK she is originally from South Africa and returns home once a year to visit her family in Noordhoek on the Cape Peninsula. Her visit home this year will involve a significant challenge as she is planning to tackle the Two Oceans ultra-marathon on Easter Saturday (19 April) – and in doing so she will be raising money for the Sibabalwe crèche and the Masicorp Seedlings project in Masiphumelele.

 old-mutual-two-oceans-marathonThe Two Oceans ultra-marathon is a challenging 56 km road race around the Peninsula, which fittingly passes Masiphumelele around the half way mark. It has a reputation as the world’s most beautiful marathon and passes through the amazing scenery of the Cape Peninsula.  Spending a lot of time in the area, Kathy was well aware of the annual road race but this will be the first time she has run it. She earned her place in the race by completing a marathon in Bournemouth (UK) in under the five hour qualifying time. She now describes herself as being “really excited about the prospect of taking part in an Ultra marathon, whilst being terrified at the same time”.

kathy 1As well as preparing for the physical challenge Kathy (seen here in the purple top) has generously offered to raise money for both the Sibabalwe crèche, which is one of the 22 unregistered facilities that Masicorp provides support to as well as The Masicorp Seedlings Project. We have previously reported on donations at the crèche from friends of Masicorp. Kathy was introduced to the crèche by friends in the local area who have also given their time to assist there. Sadly as an unregistered crèche the facilities are poor and there are few resources for the children. The aim of her fundraising efforts will be to provide a fence to make a secure play area and vegetable garden for the children.

Masicorp is helping Kathy to collect donations and can receive money either online (UK and USA) or by bank transfer (SA) in a tax efficient manner.  If you would like to donate to the project please feel free to use the links below:

South Africa: Please click HERE

USA: Please click HERE

UK: Please click HERE

Or visit Kathy’s Just Giving site HERE

Please add ‘Kathy Seedlings’ to the project box when you complete the online donation so that she can keep track. Please also send Kathy an email on to let her know you have completed a bank transfer so that she can keep track.

kathy 2

Great Progress at Masi Educare

Immediately after leaving Ukhanyo Primary School our recent visitors from the UK, Viv Daubenspeck from Torquay Rotary Club and her partner Brian Gunn, were on their way to Masi Educare. The City of Cape Town has given Masicorp the remit to make the pre-school in the old farmhouse at the center of Masiphumelele into a sustainable facility. Again this is a task that would not be possible without our generous overseas funders and once again Torquay Rotary Club has been heavily involved. Masi Educare is actually supported by a significant international collaboration of funders, as previously reported on these pages.

crecheThe first thing our guests saw on arrival was a short welcome dance and song from the children and the staff at the pre-school. On a warm summers day this all took place on the front lawn and only when it was over did the full extent of the changes to the building sink in. Gone is the faded pink colouring, now replaced with a fresh coat of a more modest coloured paint (that was still being applied just around the corner). We must thank Duram paints whose kind donation of an extensive supply of paint has made this possible, both here and at Ukhanyo Primary School.

Painting masieducareNot long ago the building had wooden window frames that were so badly worn many could not be opened without the fear of the glass falling out. Now each one has been replaced with a stainless steel frame that will withstand the rigours of the wet Cape winter. An important consideration that took some explaining to guests from the UK, under the blue skies of a scorching hot summer day. Inside the floors have all been replaced and a smooth and clean surface leads through to the kitchen at the back of the building.

window framesThere were gasps of awe as the visitors took in the bright and shiny surfaces of the recently delivered stainless steel kitchen. With extensive storage space, work surfaces and a brand new gas cooker the kitchen is a world away from the facilities that were previously in place.

sinkBefore leaving the site, Viv and Brian were shown the future plans for the pre-school. The initial work has involved refurbishing the old farmhouse to act as a central core for the finished project. Currently activities take place within the farmhouse but ultimately a series of classrooms will be constructed around the building in an area that is currently vacant. It is an exciting project where there has been rapid development, and we were delighted that our guests could see just how effectively their funds have been used. More than R220,000 raised for this project is something about which all the Rotarians involved can be very proud and we are also pleased to acknowledge to contribution that two Cape Town clubs have made: Noon Gun Club at Ukhanyo and Newlands Club at Masi Educare.

After the excitement of the day it was back to work for everyone at Masi Educare but from here Viv and Brian head onto Hermanus and the Western Cape coastline for a well-earned holiday. We wish them well on their travels and thank them for their support.

(Many thanks to Christine Adendorff Photography for some of the pictures on this blogpost)

The Ukhanyo Primary School Makeover Project

Masicorp is extremely grateful to the many donors around the world that fund the programs we provide in Masiphumelele. One of the most rewarding parts of our work is to host our donors when they visit South Africa to see how their funds have been used on the ground. This week we had the opportunity to welcome Viv Daubenspeck, past president of Torquay Rotary Club in the UK and her partner Brian Gunn. They came to see the two wonderful projects that Torquay Rotary Club funded – first they went to Ukhanyo Primary School,  the Ukhanyo Classroom Makeover Project has made a huge impact.

handshakeThe project began in March 2013 with the aim of making the school’s classrooms a safe, clean and stimulating learning environment for all pupils. All 35 of the schools classrooms are involved and the makeover provides learning equipment (e.g. new modern whiteboards to replace blackboards), repairs to broken windows/roofing and painting the walls in bright stimulating colours. Importantly, the project has generated a sense of ownership in the school by its learners, their parents and the staff – as we recently reported with regard to the This is Our School project.

The improvement to the schools facilities has helped the teachers to teach more effectively and the pupils to learn more effectively. The school is a brighter and more welcoming space with many teachers taking a personal pride in their own classrooms and providing extra’s themselves such as brightly coloured lampshades. All this has been made possible by the fund raising efforts of the members of Torquay Rotary the The Rotary Club of Fredrikstad (Norway) who became an integration partner and Rotary International – we have much to thank Rotary for! Added to all this, St Mary the Virgin Parish Church in Torquay also worked hard to raise funds. Well over R100,000 raised across the far side of the world for Ukhanyo – what a great story!

Viv and Brian toured the school with Masicorp project leader, Fran Louden and her brother Paul Dibley – Paul is a craftsman who works as an unpaid volunteer for Ukhanyo where he has done much of the work himself and has been responsible for organising the rest

The project is scheduled to run through to June 2014 and is well on target. It is going so well that it was a struggle to find areas that still needed attention to show Viv and Brian. As Paul himself explained: “Before, you could stand in one spot and see so many problems, now you have to go looking for them!”

IMG_3579Here is Viv accepting on behalf of the literally hundreds of donors, a framed ‘thank you’ from the school at the end of their visit. (From left to right: Andrew Smith [Masicorp president], Fran Loudon [Masicorp project leader], Michael Thyali [Ukhanyo Primary School Principal], Paul Dibley [Masicorp craftsman volunteer] and Viv Daubenspeck [Torquay Rotary Club]). Not in the picture is Rotarian Warwick Whelan, also a past president of the club, who with Viv was the driving force behind the fund raising for both projects.

(Many thanks to Christine Adendorff Photography for the pictures on this blogpost)