Masincedisane Pre-School Re-opens on Mandela Day

Almost two months after a devastating fire destroyed a large area of Masiphumelele the Masincedisane Pre-School has re-opened. The pre-school was one of over 200 buildings that was completely destroyed as we reported back in May. While the students have been housed in temporary accommodation elsewhere the pre-school has been completely rebuilt.

MN1Projekt Ubuntu (another of the NGO’s working in Masiphumelele) has funded the rebuild, while Masicorp is assisting with further donations following our successful emergency fire appeal. The picture below shows the principal Mandisa with Candi Horgan from Projekt Ubuntu and Milli Firth from Masicorp.

MN5The keys were handed over to Mandisa on 18 July (Mandela Day) – a symbolic date in the South African calender. The date is the birthday of the late Nelson Mandela when all South African are encouraged to give their time to community projects in their area in memory of the former president.

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We would also like to thank the drummers and dancers of the eMzantsi carnival who brought music and dance to the event.

MN3Mandisa finished the event with a speech in which she thanked project Ubuntu and Masicorp and other donors for their assistance.

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Back to College for our Bursary Students

In the last two weeks all of our bursary students have returned to their student residences around Cape Town ready to tackle semester 2 of the academic year. The different academic institutions have slightly staggered start dates so it has been a busy couple of weeks for the Masicorp volunteers and student mentors that have kindly transported the students, and their belongings, back to campus.

SIMThis year we put two days aside to meet with each student individually, and discuss their progress. Programme manager Susan De Vaux has had to travel out to the city to meet our three student nurses, who have had a short break due to their internships keeping them busy in medical centres around the city. The remaining students met up with us in Masiphumelele during their vacation time. It was a chance to check that academic progress was on track, but also to confirm that personal circumstances and finances are also satisfactory. With the rising cost in living we offered an extension to the living allowance that forms the student loan component of the bursary and most students welcomed the increase enthusiastically.

As ever most concern centered around the first years who were living away from home for the first time, and had to make the difficult step up to tertiary education from the high school. From their results it was clear that they had done this well, with good passes in subjects they were familiar with from school – including maths and English communication. Sadly there were a few fails in modules where the subject matter was more specialised and completely new to the students (e.g., soil science and computer aided design). The role of the mentor is important here to keep the student reassured following the inevitable knock to the confidence that this generates. At high school the students were the best performers in their year, but now find themselves in lectures with even higher achieving students from all across the city.

For each student with a fail we have arranged an action plan for recovery to get them through the year. In many cases the university offers a resit in the second semester, while some courses can be recovered in their second year. The bursary provides funds for extra tuition where needed, and the students will be able to access the private coaching that is offered on campus. In most cases this is a great relief when they realise the costs are covered in the programme. We also have a pool of retired teachers/lecturers that can also give their time to help with areas that are particularly problematic.

UWCThis week the Research SA organisation published this report on higher education in South Africa. There are some worrying statistics here for the country as a whole with a 33% drop out rate in the first year of HE courses. At Masicorp we have an overall drop-out rate of just around 10% over the eight years of the scheme, which is largely thanks to the excellent work of our mentors on the ground, our generous funders and the careful management of our students. This time last year we reported a 100% success rate for our new students, and we hope to be reporting similar good news at the end of this academic year as a result of our careful monitoring of student progress.

Stichting Ibhongo Wins a Big Prize for Masi Educare

Masicorp is pleased to be working with Dutch non-profit organization Stichting Ibhongo. Stichting Ibhongo (Ibhongo means pride in Xhosa) is an initiative started by Con van Zundert and Germa Zeijen two years ago. Con and Gemma from Stichting Ibhongo have been regular visitors to Masiphumelele and have a have a long-standing interest in the welfare of the local community. Last year we took them to view the work that is ongoing at Masi Educare and they were sufficiently inspired to offer to help raise funds for the renovation work.

They entered a funding competition in the Netherlands in an effort to raise funds for one wing of the new building, and were delighted to have been declared winners at the end of June. A much needed cheque for 10,000 Euro was awarded to the team, which will greatly help the building work. We cannot thank the Stichting Ibhongo team enough for their hard work.

Ruud Kuhn It was all started by Ruud Kuhn, one of the singers of the ensemble s’OTTOvoces, who have twice performed in benefit concerts for Stitching Ibhongo. Ruud is member of VOOR, a new and innovative employment agency for independent professionals in the Netherlands. The VOOR-philosophy is that “doing business” should be combined with “doing something good”, and each year its members donate a part of their total income to a good cause. Ruud was convinced the MasiEducare project was a good example of such a good cause.

Twenty-seven projects from across the Netherlands were entered into the contest. VOOR members used their Linked In networking accounts to vote on the projects. The Masi Educare project made it through to the top ten projects that went before a jury, consisting of important people in Dutch society (e.g., a lady from the Dutch lower house, a former Olympic ice speed skating champion, and a former minister of health). Three projects were nominated and Stichting Ibhongo’s Masi Educare project was amongst them.

The nominated projects had to give a presentation to the judges. Ruud arranged for s’OTTOVOCES to sing Siyahamba and Shosholoza at the beginning and end of the presentation. Eventually the project was chosen as VOORbeeld 2014. The jury was impressed by the fact that Stichting Ibhongo was participating in a modest way in something big that started from the community itself. Also the fact that the work of Stichting Ibhongo was working together with Masicorp, as a local NGO, was important.

Stichting Ibhongo now has a board of five people and is an official NGO (ANBI) in the Netherlands. Much has been achieved in the last two years and we are delighted to have their cooperation with Masi Educare. Thank you for all that you have done and we look forward to seeing you on your next visit to Masiphumelele later this year.

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The Ibhongo board – from left to right:

Marieke Oostenenk, board member, public relations, former pre-schoolteacher, adult education, artist (mandala paintings and sculptures)

Con van Zundert, chairman, teacher of mathematics in high school

Pien Oerlemans, treasurer, teacher in special education

Germa Zeijen, secretary, psychologist in health care and artist (paintings and sculptures)

Hillieta de Ridder, board member, psychologist in health care.

Netball Success in Masiphumelele

Like many sportsmen in Masiphumelele, Nceba Jonas first passion is football. One evening many years ago as he left football training in Fish Hoek he stopped to watch a game of Netball, and so began an interest in the game that has led to a recent sporting success story for the ladies he now trains. As Ukhanyo’s schools sports coach, Nceba trains girls and boys in basic physical fitness and organized sports.

Nceba and trophyOne of the first sights a visitor gets to see at Ukhnayo is Nceba and the staff putting the various year groups through their paces in the school’s sports area. Throughout the day he takes the children through a series of exercises with help from the Good Sports Trust and Masicorp who have provided funding for various essential fitness equipment. Masicorp also provides funding for transport to tournaments for the teams that Nceba organizes. It is vital to keeping his teams motivated that they get to travel to local tournaments, but is becoming increasingly more difficult to arrange without help as the petrol price climbs, and the local minibus taxis quote ever higher fares.

On 16 June it all paid off for Nceba as his senior netball team brought back their first trophy from a regional tournament in Hout Bay. Many of the team have passed through Nceba’s training programmes from small girls, and some of the team now work in the offices at the school. The event was organized as part of Cape Town’s annual Youth Day celebrations. The date of 16 June is always a public holiday in South Africa as it commemorates the 1975 Soweto Uprising that saw schoolchildren protest against the Apartheid government’s education policy, and eventually spread nationwide.

Nceba takes a team to the tournament every year but this is his first victory. Three years ago they came extremely close, with a 35-33 loss to the home side when the event was held in Mitchell’s Plain. After fighting through the group stages the team won three knockout games this year to eventually make the final. Again they faced the home side but this time overpowered the Hout Bay team 27-8.

Masicorp are pleased to support the physical education initiatives at the school and are delighted to see this victory. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else can. Sport speaks to people in a language that they can understand, it creates hope where there was once only despair.” In Masiphumelele there is a little more joy right now for the new June 16 Tournament Champions – well done everyone.

winning team