Elize’s Challenge for Ukhanyo Sports Field

After completing a number of long distance running events in recent years, including the Comrades Marathon on a number of occasions, this year Masicorp fundraiser Elize Taylor is tackling trail running. Elize has set herself a sponsorship target of R25,000 and is well on the way to reaching her goal.

24061056_22361Although still very much a novice she has been in training for several months and recently completed the first of three major events this year – AfricanX, which is held annually in the mountains around Elgin. The event was split into three stages, with Stage 1 covering a total distance of 36km and reaching a total ascent of 900m. Stage 2 covered 34km, but the total ascent on this leg of the race was 1100m, while Stage 3 saw the athletes covering a total distance of 22km with a total ascent of 800m. It sounds daunting but Elize completed it all with a time of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 12 seconds over the three days.

Next up (June 13th) is the Transfrontier Richtersveld trail run, which sounds even more daunting at 200km over 5 days. This race extends from South Africa to Namibia through the ancient arid landscape of the Ai Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

24059770_22363All funds raised are going towards Masicorp’s project to upgrade Ukhanyo Primary School’s sports field, which we discussed in our previous blog.  Masicorp has an excellent relationship with Ukhanyo Primary School, which takes all 1,600 of the township’s children aged 6 to 14. With Masicorp’s assistance the school has developed teaching facilities that are a benchmark for township schools, but their sports facilities remain limited. Masicorp have been successful in providing sports equipment and kits for the soccer, netball and cricket teams. However, the school sports field is in a terrible condition, and in places it is an uneven sandpit filled with rubble and broken glass. Masicorp have drawn up plans for a complete renovation. The first stage is to level the field, remove the rubble and prepare it for the construction of a multi-purpose sports field that can be used for netball, soccer and cricket. This is now complete but funds are urgently need to complete phase II, which involves the laying of turn and completion of a running track.

You can help Elize by contributing toward her project HERE.

Improving the Sports Facilities at Ukhanyo Primary School

Masicorp has had a sports programme in place at Ukhanyo Primary School for many years. Physical education is a crucial part of every child’s learning experience and we recognise that involvement in sport develops skills such as discipline, commitment, punctuality and loyalty, as well the health benefits. Our assistance has part funded the salary of Nceba Jonas, the local community coach, provided training equipment and transport to inter-schools competitions on a regular basis. Each child now receives two physical education (PE) lessons each week.

fieldThere is one very serious obstacle preventing the further expansion of sporting activity at Ukhanyo – the physical space available for sports is small and of poor quality. We have therefore started an ambitious plan to improve the situation by refurbishing existing facilities and seeking funding to develop the unoccupied land within the school boundary that is currently used as a playing field. The land was originally backfilled with builder’s rubble and covered with sand making it unsuitable for playing sports.

The first phase of the project – the refurbishment and remarking of existing facilities – is almost complete. We are currently undergoing fundraising for the next phase, which will see the development of the new multi-purpose sports courts and the laying of a new turf surface to the sports field.

A significant sum was recently raised by our UK team in an event that appropriately13010813_10154766652309167_6414238460217946362_n involved some well-known sportsmen from the rugby world. Our thanks go to UK fundraiser Alan McKelvey for recently hosting an evening with Ruan Pienaar (Ulster and South Africa international rugby scrum half) and Robbie Diack (Ulster and Ireland international rugby forward), who talked about life in South Africa and Ulster. The event was held at Belfast Harlequins Rugby Club and organised by Lisburn Rotary Club. Alan was the interviewer for an evening that saw over 100 people attend.

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As can be seen from the above picture of the meal time entertainment – the Lagan Sea Horses Male Voice Choir, the event was very much South African themed. The meal was complemented with South African wine and the diners enjoyed either an African stew or Cape Malay cuisine. Our thanks to everyone who attended and helped raise funds that will now go toward the second phase of the Ukhanyo sports field project – and of course our thanks to Ruan and Robbie seen here during the event.

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Bursary Case Study #6 – Avile Mabhengu

April is a busy month for our bursary recipients as CPUT and UWC host their graduation ceremonies. Amongst the students graduating this month is Avile Mabhengu who has just completed his diploma in environmental management at CPUT. Many students at CPUT are required to complete a short period of in-service training at the conclusion of their academic studies and Avile ended up undertaking one of the more interesting internships undertaken by a Masicorp bursary recipient. Like most students he initially attempted to find a place within the Western Cape, but despite his excellent academic record, his interviews with local environmental organisations were unsuccessful or he was offered positions not directly relevant to his course. It was then that his course supervisor at CPUT advised him to take a position with the provincial government in Mpumalanga.

IMG-20160203-WA0001At 1,600 km from Cape Town it was a long way from home, but with the help of bursary funding he was able to travel north and find rented accommodation in the vicinity of his new workplace. It seems a long way to travel for training, but Mpumalanga is an ideal location for an environmental manager. With a long history of mining, Mpumalanga accounts for 83% of South Africa’s coal production. Most of South Africa’s coal power stations are in proximity to the coal deposits and so the area faces some of the largest pollution and waste management challenges in the country. Avile soon found himself monitoring emissions from Eskom power stations, and then attending a regional air pollution conference in Bloemfontein. Overall it was an ideal experience for an environmental student.

His time in Mpumalanga also coincided with the onset of a severe drought that has afflicted the country. In addition to the technical aspects of his work his training also involved an environmental education component. Avile can be seen here as part of a government team educating local communities on the sustainable use of water.

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Avile has now returned to Cape Town with his training successfully completed. His grades have been sufficiently good to enable him to return to postgraduate study at CPUT, where he will complete a BTech in Environmental Management. We are not sure if he will find his way to Mpumalanga again, but once his postgraduate studies are completed this interesting period of in-service training is sure to be an invaluable part of his CV.