About masicorpblog

MASICORP provides funding for education, and investment in enterprise so that the people of Masiphumelele - a township near Cape Town in South Africa - can escape from poverty. Mission MASICORP has over 12 years’ experience working in the township. Our approach has been to ask the community where and how they need support and, from this, we know the residents want a hand-up not a handout. We know that they see education as the route out of poverty. We know they will work hard to achieve success – and we see their hard work every day in our education projects and programs. Education is what we do: we built a library and education resource centre where over 20 programs are available free to residents; we have an important project to help improve education in the 30+ township crèches; we have a highly successful university bursary program and we work with and in the township’s primary and high schools. Our education programs extend to business enterprise, where we train and develop budding entrepreneurs, and provide training to help people find jobs. Description In Masiphumelele most people live in shacks. Six families or more share one water tap and toilet facility. Roughly 70% have no regular work.Even for those with work, incomes are very low and many manage on less than $2/day for food. The township suffers from poverty-related health issues: more than 20 % of residents are HIV/AIDS positive and the number of tuberculosis victims has increased in recent years. Life expectancy is under 50 years. Some might say there is little hope but, fortunately, these people have plenty of spirit, dignity and determination.

Beanie hats for the Sibabalwe Seedlings Kids

Sophie distributes hats at Sibabalwe

Sophie distributes hats at Sibabalwe

Winter’s coming to South Africa. A lovely lady donor made us 20 beanie hats our Seedlings creche children, which were distributed today by Sophie. The Sibabalwe daycare shack is in a terrible state, but at least the kids (and their teachers) can stay a little warmer now. Rebuilding these creches is what our Seedlings project is all about. You can help too – just visit our website http://www.masicorp.org

Nonny’s Bakery and Café – one of Masiphumelele’s newest small businesses!

MASICORP is proud to sponsor Nonny’s Bakery and Café – one of Masiphumelele’s newest small businesses!

Swedish Tour group enjoying lunch at Nonny's Bakery

Swedish Tour group enjoying lunch at Nonny’s Bakery

Since it opened a few months ago, Nonny’s Bakery and Café has become a lovely little eating spot. The café is situated just a few metres along on the right hand side once you’ve turned into the main entrance to the Masiphumelele township on the Fish Hoek-Kommetjie Road.  If you’re in the area, it’s an ideal place to stop en route to Cape Point or the penguins.

Nonny serves both light refreshments (including a delicious range of freshly baked cakes and muffins) and tasty lunch dishes such as pies, stews with rice or pap, toasted sandwiches, burgers. For tour groups, she can do a more African style lunch, including township delicacies such as pap and chakalaka! Nonny’s been getting great feedback from tour groups visiting the township and takes a great deal of pride in sharing her story and local cuisine.

Nonny's garden

Nonny’s garden

Nonny’s Bakery has a lovely garden area where customers can sit in the shade of a small pergola and surrounded by a few plants, sadly often a rarity in the township. It really is a very pleasant and safe space to stop and Nonny’s food is very good, and at reasonable prices. Nonny is fully registered with the City of Cape Town and the café complies with all their hygiene requirements

Nonny and her team.

Nonny and her team.

Please feel free to call Nonny directly to book a lunch, or just pop in if you are passing by. Introduce yourself and she’d be happy to tell you about some of the previous lunches she has provided for visitors to the township.

Nonny can be contacted on (+27) 071 9986495. You will not be disappointed!

Seedlings’ Easter Bunny

Easter Egg Hunt

Are your ready to start the Easter Egg hunt?

Last week the Easter Bunny visited Masiphumelele! An anonymous donor presented Dr Sophie Billington with an Easter egg for each child in the Seedlings crèches.  We did one Easter egg distribution on Friday 22nd march and then an Easter Egg hunt in the playground next to the library the on the Thursday before Easter.

Part of the MASICORP Seedlings project is to make sure Masiphumelele’s children get a healthy lunch to help them learn well – but an occasional treat is much appreciated too!

Check out our Facebook album and see how much the kids enjoyed their Easter Treat !


Running the ‘Comrades Marathon’ for Sosebenza Youth Centre


Elize Taylor, MASICORP’s Finance Director has been heavily involved in setting out the tasks necessary to improve Masiphumelele’s Sosebenza Youth Centre this year. That’s why she’ll be running in the ‘Comrades Marathon’ on Sunday 2nd June.

The ‘Comrades Marathon’ is a 54 mile / 86.96km race between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban. It is a memorial to the soldiers of the Great War. Its founder, Vic Clapham, was born in London in 1886. He emigrated as a youth to the Cape Colony in South Africa and worked as an ambulance man and engine driver during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). In World War I he joined the 8th South African Infantry. At the end of the war, he asked the League of Comrades of the Great War (the WWI veterans association) if he could stage a race as a memorial to his fallen comrades. At first the League was not interested in Clapham’s idea, but he persisted maintaining that if a sedentary living person could be taken off the street given a rifle and 60lb pack and marched all over Africa then surely a fit and able athlete could complete the distance. After refusing for two years, the League finally relented and the first race was run on 24th May, 1921, starting in Pietermaritzburg. There were just 34 runners. The race has been run every year since then, apart from the war years 1941-1945. Its direction alternates each year – starting at either Pietermaritzburg or Durban, the so-called ‘up & down’ runs.

Elize was a runner at school but took a 20 year break. When she first watched this magnificent race she mentioned that I would like to participate, but was told that, at age 38, there is no way that she would succeed. So she started training! She has since managed to complete three Comrades marathons and in 2010 she ran to raise funds for the Ukhanyo Sports Field. That year, 16459 runners began the race but only 14,596 finished. Take a look at the terrain (see the attached link) and you can see why.


When MASICORP built the Sosebenza youth centre in 2001, 41 unemployed young adults gave 705 hours of their time to help build it.  It was given to the community by MASICORP’s founders, John and Carol Thompson, for skills training and youth activities.

In 2013 the plan is to reorganise the site so that its facilities are more secure. We’ll then be able to provide computer and graphic design training there (working with our partner NGO African Renewal), and extend some of the programmes we currently run in Masiphumelele Library (the Homework Club, and Maths and English tuition).

Teens are a neglected age group and they need a safe place within Masiphumelele where they can discuss issues such as Drug and Alcohol abuse etc. (Parents also need to be taught to look out for the signs of these problems.)  After 10 years, Sosebenza needs an upgrade – not just in order to provide skills training but also so it can provide dance, drama, painting, drawing, photography and other youth group activities!

Step 1: Build a wall!

If you’d like to help, click here  – and type ‘Elize’ in the ‘Is this for a special project?’ box when you make your donation.


What is Wordworks?

The children of Masiphumelele are generally not well prepared for learning how to read and write when they start formal schooling; their parents want to help, but often do not know how.

The children’s first school is the township school, where they are taught in their mother tongue, Xhosa, for the first three years. After that, they have to make the switch-over to English. The children who attend schools outside Masiphumelele face the task of learning to read and write in English, their second language, right from the start.

Help is needed! And it comes in the form of a wonderfully effective English literacy and language programme from Wordworks SA – the Early Literacy Programme. This highly effective and established programme helps establish good English language and literacy skills in our youngest students.Working with Wordworks

Ukhanyo School’s ‘English Lab’

MASICORP has committed volunteers and resources to improving the quality of education at Masiphumelele’s Ukhanyo Primary School, but one of the biggest hurdles that the school faces is the low level of English literacy and fluency among teachers and students.

To help address this problem, MASICORP opened the ‘English Lab’ at Ukhanyo Primary School in January 2012. The project is led by an American volunteer Jan O’Connor and her able assistant, Zimkhita Kapaayi.  Modeled after our successful ‘Science Lab’, the English Lab focuses on providing teachers at Ukhanyo with the skills and resources that they need in order to teach English effectively.

In its initial phase, the project has concentrated on teachers from grades 1-3. The level of participation has been overwhelming. Teachers are embracing the easy-to-implement lesson plans and the opportunity to practice effective teaching strategies in a supportive environment.

Jan had initially hoped to “recruit” a group of 10 teachers willing to put in the time and effort to work on improving their English teaching skills, but within six weeks of the opening, 22 Grade 1-4 teachers were using the English Lab on a weekly basis and teachers of the intermediate grades were clamouring for an opportunity to use the facility.

Set up with generous support from MASICORP donors in the UK,  the English Lab provides the resources and materials that teachers need to teach competently in the classroom. In addition, the Lab serves as a place where Ukhanyo educators can share effective teaching strategies and techniques across the curriculum.

Teaching in the 'Englsh Lab'