FINISHING TOUCHES AND FINALE FOR FACE SCHOOL

The ‘Home of Love’ (Ekhaya Lothando) School got the final finishing touches to building work when 18 of the FACE team descended on Masiphumele for a week in February 2014.
It was the climax of more than a year of fundraising by the group of friends that raised more than £48,600 covering the cost of construction of the new classroom building, improvements to the existing building, a new toilet block, covered and open play areas, a laptop computer, class furniture, educational materials and teacher training.
FACE PlaqueFACE Team 23 (2)
Masicorp, who have overseen the project, gave the team a schedule of works that would see the school completed during their visit and in time for an official opening party at the end of the week on Friday, February 21. The list of outstanding work included redecorating all of the outside of the main building, perimeter walls and railings, and inside the third classroom, plus cementing in windows and ceiling repairs.
 FACE Classroom
Work got under way each day at about 8am and also involved assistance from Masicorp’s Project Manager, Al Ritchie and site foreman Raymond. Leading the FACE team’s efforts on site was Phil Cockerton, being the only one who genuinely knew anything about building works.
“Everyone put their backs into it and I think we were all really surprised and happy by how much was achieved during that week,” said Phil. “It was quite something to have so many people busily working alongside each other. There was a great sense of achievement at the end of it.”
FACE paint spillFACE Main building
In addition to the building works roughly half the FACE crowd, mainly the ladies, took the 30 plus pupils on two day trips, one to the science museum in Cape Town and the other to the nearby child-friendly Imhof Farm.
FACE founder member Stena Riches said: “Quite simply we all fell in love with the children on those two days. They are just adorable and it made all that hard work of fundraising worth every minute.”
One of the best aspects of the new school was the quality of the completed project, in particular the new classroom block to the rear, which had specially vaulted ceilings with a row of high windows to give it a truly airy feel. Considerable praise is due to architect Graham Finlayson. A stainless steel commemorative plaque was designed and made by Sam Holland, a sculptor and FACE founder member. In addition another hand-carved wooden plaque was presented by Masicorp. However, perhaps the most attractive memory of the FACE team left behind was the image of a tree painted onto a wall using each of the FACE team members’ hand imprints to form the design, including ones for those unable to be present.
 FACE Team Tree
One of Masicorp’s main project team and experienced construction director Colin Blaikie explained that these new surroundings had a significant impact on the children. He said: “The thing that surprised me most was the effect of the building on the children. You could immediately see that it improved their whole attitude and behaviour. I have never seen that kind of change purely from a better environment.”
At the official opening the children entertained with songs under the guidance of Dr Sophie Billington, who has been the critical link between the school teachers and pupils with FACE. At the start of the week the teachers and some mothers had also greeted the arrival of the team with songs and dancing.
Andrew Smith. Masicorp’s CEO, had worked tirelessly to co-ordinate the scheme and expressed his pleasure at the opening in seeing it all come to fruition. “We have been so impressed by FACE. Thanks to their incredible fundraising this pre-school is now an example we can show others of just what can be achieved.”
Also present at the opening were two pupils of West Lodge Primary School, Pinner, Middlesex, which played a major role in helping to raise funds and formed an important link between children from the UK with their ‘adopted’ new friends. Joshua (8) and Julian (6) Luiz were guests of honour and mixed happily with the Masiphumele pupils.
The most important attendees at the official opening were undoubtedly Priscilla, who founded the school, and her daughter Indiana, who now works there as it’s leading teacher. The ever-smiling Indiana expressed their obvious delight: “We are so incredibly grateful to all of you and we promise that many children will now be helped thanks to you.”
After the official opening everyone enjoyed a Braai (barbecue) at Decks restaurant, when a further aspect of the FACE efforts was highlighted with the presentation of a laptop computer to Indiana. This was part of the group’s wider funding of teacher training for Indiana at a Montesori school and education assistance for another future teacher at the school.
Nick Jenkins, of FACE, summed up the week of work and the year plus of fundraising: “It has been something none of us will ever forget, a true lifelong memory. We could not be more pleased with the end result and seeing the smiling faces of those little children was the ideal reward. Now we look forward to hearing how the school is doing and the children progressing.
“Most of all it was marvellous to see what a group of friends could do by coming together. In all there are 31 founder members of FACE, and although not all were able to travel to Masiphumelele for the opening week, everyone was just as important and did their bit. There were so many different fundraising events and although at times it was hard work, just as importantly, it was great fun. It showed what a great bunch of friends can achieve and made you proud to be one of them.”
The 18 members of the team that travelled to Masiphumele were: Kaye and Steve Bishop, Di and John Brice, Joy and Phil Cockerton, Marion and Nick Jenkins, Jackie and Tony Mankelow, Rachael and Don Pilcher, Nicki Purdie and Jordan Jenkins, Stena and Steve Riches, and Bob and Helen Steele.
FACE Team 27 (2)
Equally vital to the project, but unable to attend for a variety of reasons were; Joy Douglas and Joel Jenkins, Clare and Scott Elsey, Glynis Fowler and Len Smith, Jackie Hearn, Sam and Paul Holland, Chris Oliver and Ron Price, and Angela Welham and Eric Goodwin. Special mention must also go to Athena Douglas, who was the teacher at West Lodge Primary School, who led their extremely successful fundraising efforts.

A Track Suit Handover by SOMB at Ukhanyo Primary School

eva_longoriaEarlier this week Masicorp was pleased to host Will Bennett, James Williams, and Chris Norqual – three of the five founding members of American clothing company, SOMB, (SHIRT OFF MY BACK). The four letter word, SOMB, is an abbreviation for the widely-used expression in pop culture, “shirt off my back.” Based in Los Angeles the company describe their product lines as, “an eclectic mix of t-shirts, tank tops and hoodies inspired by California’s relaxed street style.” Since their formation in 2010, SOMB attire has become popular with celebrities worldwide including Desperate Housewives actress, Eva Longoria (right) and the London Wasps rugby team (below).

wasps-smallSOMB is a fashion company with a conscience and for every article of clothing they sell in the United States they provide a school uniform to a child in Africa. Will and James initially contacted us with a view to including Ukhanyo Primary School among the many schools they work with in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa. Unfortunately at the time the school year had just begun and most children were already fitted out in their new uniforms. However, we are not far away from the Cape winter, which is a time when children find their uniforms are not warm enough for the cold and damp conditions. SOMB therefore kindly agreed to fund the provision of school track suits to each child and we arranged for the first batch of fifty to be made ready for this week.

1 UniformsThis has also been good news for the Sewing Café – another of Masicorp’s projects in the township. The ladies have been awarded the contract to produce the tracksuits and proudly showed off the freshly prepared garments to Will, James, and Chris on their arrival. Over at the school we later saw several children already proudly wearing their tracksuits after the first batch was delivered earlier in the morning. With the continued support of SOMB and the hard work of the ladies of the Sewing Café every child will be wearing warm clothing over their uniforms this winter. This is a great initiative, not just for the children but also the Sewing Café who have picked up a significant amount of work through the project.

2 UniformsIt was just left for the children to show off their football and basketball skills to Will, James, and Chris who were kept on their toes by some skilful and enthusiastic footwork from the youngsters. All of SOMB’s founders are keen sportsmen and first met over a game of hockey so it was the perfect end to an action packed morning. We cannot thank SOMB enough for their generous financial support, which has made a real difference in Masiphumelele. It was a pleasure to host Will, James, and Chris and we look forward to seeing them again in the future.

3 uniforms

Thanks to our Cape Argus riders

Every year in March the Cape Peninsula hosts the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour. The 109 kilometre cycle race from the CBD around the peninsula and back into the city via Chapmans Peak features 35 000 cyclists and is the world’s largest individually timed cycle race.  Among the many riders who took part this year everyone at Masicorp is extremely grateful to Chris Ritchie and Geoff Kendall who rode to raise funds for Masicorp projects. Indeed all the riders deserve praise for competing on an extremely windy day across the city – for a full review of the race and more pictures please click HERE

Chris is the son of Masicorp’s Al Ritchie, who does an excellent job of managing our seedlings program. Chris has specifically raised funds to support the early childhood development initiatives that the program supports. A resident of London, he has been practicing for the race with a 20 km commute into the city each day and several longer rides in the countryside at weekends. Although he just missed his target finish time we are very grateful to Chris for his efforts.

argusGeoff Kendall was riding the race with his brother Gary, who moved to Cape Town in 2011. On their first Argus race they were proud to finish despite being overtaken by a man on a unicycle and a pantomime cow on a tandem. This time around they did the race on fold up bicycles that raised more than a few laughs when they cycled past Masiphumelele. Geoff and Gary kept us up to speed with their efforts via twitter and we also thank them very much.

Both riders have a just giving charity page and although they currently have raised a significant sum please note that the website will accept donations for three months after the event. Please consider supporting both riders if you can.

See Chris’s page HERE

And Geoff & Gary’s page HERE

SCHOOL RUNS UP BIG DONATION

A group of 23 teachers and parents from West Lodge Primary School in Pinner, Middlesex, ran the Reading Half Marathon and raised more than £4000 for the FACE project. Over the past year the school has organised a number of events to raise money to support the building of the new Ekhaya Lothando School (Home of Love) in Masiphumelele, a township in Cape Town.
 
Athena Douglas, teacher at West Lodge, set up the school link with FACE and Ekhaya Lothando School in Maisphumelele and had the idea to run the Reading Half Marathon back in October. Miss Douglas set about gathering the staff/parents team together and inspiring teachers and parents alike to take on the challenge.
 
Since training for the race began back in October a team of teachers and parents could regularly be seen pounding the streets of Pinner on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Overcoming bouts of injury and illness, the team emerged ready to face the challenge on the morning March 2nd.
 
Headteacher, Kim James, who took part in the run said: “It was great to get the school community of teachers and parents together to run for such a good cause. It was difficult on the day, but we rose to the challenge and achieved it – at West Lodge we all have a growth mindset.”
 
The Ekhaya Lothando School opened on February 21st 2014 and two pupils from West Lodge were able to visit and be there on the day. Joshua and Julian Luiz, went to visit family in Cape Town during half term, luckliy there trip coincided with the opening of the school so the brothers were invited as guests of honour to represent West Lodge on the day.
 
Nick Jenkins from FACE said: “Everyone at West Lodge should be very proud of what they have helped to achieve. The new pre school now has three classrooms, and outside play area, a covered play area, and toilets, around the teacher accommodation and kitchen, which is vital as all the children receive a healthy balanced meal each day. The two main teachers Priscilla and Indiana were more thrilled than you can imagine. Indiana was also presented with a new laptop to help with the school administration and FACE is paying for her continued teacher training at a Montessori facility, which she says has opened her eyes to far more advanced education for the children. Our charity partners Masicorp say it is a project they will use as a template to show others what can be achieved.”
WLWhippets run Reading Boys getting involved[1]