Santa’s Shoebox in Masiphumelele

Masicorp volunteers and the staff of several pre-school’s in Masiphumelele were recently on hand to help The Santa’s Shoebox Project distribute gifts to the local children. The Santa Shoebox Project originated in Cape Town in 2006 and is an initiative of the Kidz2Kidz Trust that encourages children to give away toys they no longer play with. Santa’s ShoeBox has subsequently grown to become one of South Africa’s most successful charities.

SSPThe concept is simple. Anyone who wants to donate can log onto their website, nominate a child or children they want to benefit, fill a shoebox, wrap it and drop it off at a designated location. The boxes are distributed to more than 1000 recipient facilities around South Africa and Namibia. Donors are encouraged to pack their boxes with a mixture of toys, learning materials such as books and crayons, and toiletries such as toothpaste and soap.

From humble beginnings – just 600 boxes pledged in 2006 – the project now distributes over 100,000 shoeboxes. Here are some images from this year’s drop-off at three pre-schools in Masiphumelele. The Santa’s Shoebox Project volunteers nominated three pre-schools and Masicorp helped collect the children’s names to ensure they received appropriate gifts, and then helped the project to distribute the shoeboxes.

Ithembe Pre-School

ITH 1Masincedisane Pre-School

MAS 2Siyaqoba Pre-School

SIY 1Thank you to everyone at The Santa’s Shoebox Project and to all of the donors who have made this possible.

A Partnership with AWOL Tours

This month sees the beginning of a partnership between Masicorp and AWOL Tours, whoAWOL logo operate cycling tours of Masiphumelele in association with the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN). The relationship will see both organisations working together in the long-term to identify and support specific projects in the township. The AWOL tour currently visits educational sites such as the library and a pre-school as well as taking in wider aspects of community life, such as a visit to a traditional healer. The tour has proved to be very successful with international tourists and has received some excellent Tripadvisor reviews.

BEN-LogoAWOL have generously agreed to donate R50 per paying guest on each of their tours, which will be used to support early childhood development projects in the community. This is in line with the company’s position as a leader in responsible tourism in South Africa. They have previously been awarded Fair Trade in Tourism status due to their work with local communities and their preference for training and employing local staff.

Earlier this year several of the Masicorp team joined AWOL bicycle guide, Zwai, to experience the tour. Zwai lives in Masiphumelele and has worked for AWOL for many years. It was immediately apparent that there are many synergies between what Masicorp and AWOL tours are doing in terms of community upliftment and in particular supporting early childhood development. The tours also often start or finish with a visit to Nonny’s Bakery for coffee and so support another Masicorp project. For a review of the visit by the Masicorp team please click HERE.

masicorp-groupTownship tourism does not always get a good press but the sensitive approach taken by AWOL tours is to be commended and we are delighted to be in partnership with such a respected tour operator. We look forward to a long working relationship and would absolutely recommend the tour to all visitors to the area, local or international.

The Cloudclassroom

When Masicorp first began working with the community of Masiphumelele there were very few brick buildings in the township. In those early years we were involved in construction projects, such as the Masiphumelele library, and we also helped many families to build their homes. Thabisa Manyase was one of the beneficiaries of the housing project and this week we caught up with her son Mluleki who still lives and works in Masiphumelele.

Together with his colleagues Ashley (seen on the left of Mluleki below) and Ben (seen on the PC below), Mluleki is working with the AppShed Network, who have a base at Chasmay Road.

ash-mluAppShed is a UK based organisation that creates mobile apps for digital education. Their CEO, Torsten Stauch explains their mission as:

We are privileged to play a part in a revolution that is happening in digital education. Students are realising that they can become the creators of technology, not just consumers.

This is exactly what the team has done at Chasmay Road. They have established their own organization – The Cloudclassroom. Cloudclassroom delivers AppShed modules as part of a digital education programme. They design their own apps as well as animation and graphic design for corporate clients. Among the organisations that they have worked with are the travel and tourism marketing agency Wesrgo and South African National Parks.

benTheir latest project will directly benefit the residents of the Cape Peninsula as they are set to run app building workshops at Longbeach Mall on Saturdays between 10am to 1pm. The workshops are aimed at parents who wish to drop their children off somewhere where they can be both entertained and educated while they shop. The team are specifically looking to provide a service that will demystify computer programing. The workshops will offer a novel way for children to learn new skills while having fun at the same time.

If you would like to participate please feel free to drop in at the mall on any Saturday or sign up by contacting the team via their website HERE

Much of what the team has achieved has been made possible thanks to donations of equipment such as a Sonic Pi from donors in the Netherlands. The team always need PCs to continue their work on. If you have old computers that you would be able to donate please also contact the team at Chasmay Road or via their website.

Graduate Employment and the Masicorp Bursary Scheme

Thanks to our financial and personal support, the dropout rate for university students in the Masicorp Bursary Scheme is exceptionally low, as we recently reported. We also recently profiled two of our successful university graduates, Lungelwa Mkokeli and Olwethu Mlaza.

Further to this, our bursary team reviewed the progress of all of the university level bursary students we have supported and we are pleased to report very high employment figures for all these graduates. We wanted to compare this to national data for South Africa.

Fourteen (14) of our students have graduated and received a bachelor’s or higher degree. Of these 11 are employed, two (2) have gone on for further studies, and only one (1), a recent graduate, is unemployed. Wonderful results.

grad

Nationally in South Africa the unemployment rate for graduates of this level is reported to be about 5%, so our students are in line with the country as a whole. This contrasts sharply with the 70% unemployment rate in the under 35 age group for South Africa that is widely reported.

We do not have comparative national data for students who do not complete university programmes or complete certificate or diploma programs. Among our students in this category, however, we are happy to see that the majority are well employed.

These data highlight how education is the route out of poverty for the children of Masiphumelele. The job opportunities for our students once they graduate from university are excellent. South Africa, while filled with myriad economic problems, has a strong market for university graduates. Much better than in certain European countries and only slightly higher than the U.S. rates which are around 3%

The Bursary Scheme is critical for our university students. It not only helps them finance their education but the support provided is key to their successful graduation rates. And Masicorp supports many other educational programs in Masiphumelele that give children in Masi a much improved chance of getting to university. Seedlings focuses on Early Childhood Development and the English, Science and new Maths Labs at the Ukhanyo Primary School support teachers and students there. There are literacy and homework programs at the library and tutoring for high school students. All are geared to enhancing future opportunities for the children of Masiphumelele.

Our graduates are doing well, and twenty-four (24) more students are currently at university. With the help of our donors we hope to add at least another six (6) students in 2015.   We’ll continue to report on the successful employment stories of our students in future blogs