A Visit From Sonwabiso Ngcowa

20171128_163734With the end of the year in sight, Masicorp staff and volunteers met at the Chasmay Road offices to look back on another successful year for the various educational projects in the community. This year the end of year celebrations were boosted by local author and motivational speaker, Sonwabiso Ngcowa. Originally from Mpozisa village in the Eastern Cape, Sonwabiso lived in Masiphumelele for many years during which time he became a published author. He regularly writes reviews for the literature section of the Cape Times and his short story, “In Search of Happiness” was printed (2013) and used at Human Rights youth workshops ran by the Holocaust Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. The book was dedicated to all young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or intersex, a subject he spoke eloquently about and has also written about for the Daily Maverick.

Sonwabiso informed the gathering of the Masicorp team of what drives him and his definitions of success. In particular, he told the story of how he resigned from a permanent position at Standard Bank in 2011 to study at UCT and eventually follow his dream to become an author. A move that took some explaining to his family.

21at21_300dpi_finalAmong the books that Sonwabiso left with us at Chasmay Road were copies of 21 at 21: The Coming of Age of a Nation, which in wrote in collaboration with Melanie Verwoerd. Together, the two authors travelled the country speaking to 21 young South Africans about the lives in the 21 years since democracy. The book is a compilation of personal narratives that feature some of the local residents of Masiphumelele and Ocean View. It proved to be the highlight of the day, with many of the Masicorp team purchasing signed copies.



A selection of Sonwabiso’s books are still available from our Chasmay Road offices. The office is open from 9 to 5 on all week days and the books will be available to purchase until 13th December. An ideal Christmas present for any bookworms among your family and friends and a great way to reward one of Masiphumelele’s most inspirational residents.

Life Skills Graduation – July 2017

Last weekend saw the first graduation ceremony for 2017 for the Evangeline Ministries / Masicorp life skills training course. The team were present to greet the graduates at the usual venue at Living Hope near Masiphumelele.

Evangeline team

Our thanks to the students this year for providing the hall decorations that can be seen on the stage here.


There were 18 students graduating – 17 women and one man. This also included a couple of graduates from Ocean View.

Thank you to Carol Hanks (Masicorp Director of Development) for delivering the welcome speech to the graduates. Thanks also to Fiona Maitland (Masicorp deputy MD) for being present to award the certificates to each student.


As usual there were many happy faces….


And many spectacular outfits on show….

Fashion Show collage

Our thanks to Dr Wendy Ryan for her continued delivery of this programme. As a token of appreciation the students presented Wendy with  a small gift at the end of the ceremony.


The six-month programme now moves on with a fresh intake of students for the second half of 2017.

[Thanks to Dr Louise de Waal of Green Girls in Africa for all photographs on this blog]




Free Computer Training at Masiphumelele Library

At the end of last year we reported on the success of the graduates of the advanced computer literacy class held at Masiphumelele library. This is a programme that we were able to offer thanks to an overseas donation from a personal donor in the United States. We are pleased to report that funds have been received to continue the programme in 2017.

Over 7500 people-hours of tuition were given in 2016. Basic classes, are taught by Nyameko Nzuzo 3 mornings each week and cater mainly for young adults from the community. Classes last for 2.5 hours, one person per computer. Nyameko has been operating a unique ‘open class’ approach, working with students at all levels on creative projects which cover all commonly used skills and techniques of Microsoft Office Applications. The main focus is on Word Processing and effective use of the Internet.


Advanced classes take place two afternoons per week, and are run by Nyasha Sithole. This “certificated “course which is more formalised and challenging has gained a good reputation in the community as attendance has increased by almost 10%.

Students from both classes report better work opportunities after training with staff at the library. Many are now employed and utilising the skills they gained on the programme.

Children‘s classes are offered by Nyameko Nzuzo twice a week, and he has trained a group of youngsters in basic computer skills. The most dedicated students also received certificates at the graduation.


Free internet access, with support is also available and over 11 385 free Internet sessions (45 minutes) were received in 2016

When the computers are not being used for training, the library operates a free ‘internet cafe’ style facility where community members may use the computers to produce CV’s, access to information about employment and training opportunities, use email, work on their studies and generally participate in the digital age. There are trained staff permanently present to assist community members to make the most of their internet sessions.


An Update From Masiphumelele Library

Congratulations are due to the graduates of the advanced computer literacy class held at Masiphumelele library. The library held a graduation day last week for all the members of the community that recently completed the Masicorp funded program. The graduates comprised two groups of the intermediate computer classes (one from the first intake and the other from the second intake) and the children’s computer class. The computer course has six modules: Internet and e-mails, file management, word processing, spread sheet, PowerPoint and use of databases. Students have to pass at least five modules to obtain a certificate.

1The mood around the room was celebratory with students overjoyed to get the certificates, but more importantly due to the fact that they felt empowered with very important skills. Our thanks to the expert teaching skills of Nyasha (right) from the library staff for leading the course.

Senior librarian Susan Alexander, was also present to thank everyone who had been part of the course and for making it a success. She also emphasised the importance of being computer literate, especially for those who are looking for jobs. She also used the opportunity to inform the graduates about other programmes which are run by the library – with several graduates showing immediate interest in some of these programs.


2There was a huge range of ages among the graduates – even including one mother with her son. One of the graduating students, Nontobeko Mashiya summed up the day perfectly:

I am really grateful to be part of this computer course. I started the course without even knowing how to use a mouse but now I can use more applications comfortably”.

The end of the year at the library also marks an important milestone as Susan Alexander retires from her position as senior librarian. Susan has worked for the city in her capacity as a librarian for 21 years and played a key role in Masiphumelele library since its construction with help from Masicorp in 2003. She leaves us with these final words

susan-alexander-photo-from-www-reputationatters-co_-za_My time in Masiphumelele has been the best time of my working life. I have learnt so much, met many wonderful people and been able to share unforgettable moments in this community.

Ixesha endilichithe ndisebenza apha eMasiphumelele libe lelona limnandi kakhulu ebomini bam. Ndifunde lukhulu kwaye ndidene nabantu abalunge kakhulu. Andisoze ndili libale ithuba endilichithe nabo kule ndawo.

Enkosi kakhulu

On behalf of everyone at Masicorp Thank You Susan and we wish you a happy and relaxing retirement.

Life Skills Graduation – December 2016

Last weekend we celebrated the graduation of another cohort of adult learners on the Masicorp / Evangeline Ministries life skills course in Masiphumelele. It has been another successful six months, with 15 ladies – and one man – from the community upskilled in English and computing as well as learning practical sewing skills. The event was again excellently led by Wendy Ryan, with a inspirational speech from Masicorp director Carol Hanks.


Carol praised the graduates with A.A. Milnes famous quote “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” – expertly delivered in isiXhosa.

Here are a selection of the wonderful creations on show – all pictures courtesy of Louise de Waal from Green Girls in Africa.



As usual every graduate was rewarded with their own sewing machine to take away and continue their creative work.




Celebrating Our Life-Skills Graduates

To celebrate Women’s Day we present an image gallery from last months life-skills graduation ceremony. Masicorp, working in partnership with Evangeline Ministries, provides a ‘Life Skills’ course for women in Masiphumelele with little or no previous education. The course takes six months and teaches basic English, computer and sewing Skills.

All of the ladies shown here completed the course in six months and are proudly displaying the items they produced.

Graduation 13



Graduation 11


Graduation 12

All photographs courtesy of Louise de Waal at Green Girls in Africa

Congratulations to Wendy Ryan

Last Saturday was a big day for Wendy Ryan, the manager of the Evangeline Ministries / Masicorp life skills program. Wendy was back in her native USA at the invitation of Dr Tony Compolo from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. Earlier this year Tony has asked her to be the commencement speaker at this graduation ceremony. However, there was more to come, as Wendy was then informed she had been recommended to receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of her work with poor communities in South Africa.


Wendy has described the news as “the second biggest shock of my life”. A statement she qualified by explaining the biggest shock was that she came to South Africa in the first place. Wendy has a long association with Eastern University having worked with Tony Compolo in the United States for over 10 years, and was a board member of the Compolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies until 2006. The college encourages the affluent to work with the poor worldwide and through her work with the college she found herself travelling to South Africa.

Sewing Cafe Graduation 2015 - 43 (small) (3)With her experience from Compolo College, Wendy was working as a journalist and began training people in writing and photographic skills. Her work was noticed by the editor of a Cape Town newspaper in 2005 and she was invited to work in the city. This was at a time when HIV/AIDS and its links to poverty were being recognized worldwide, yet in South Africa there was a lack of willingness to tackle the problem. Wendy was directed toward Living Hope on the Cape Peninsula, who had just opened a hospice for women suffering with HIV/AIDS. She was moved by the plight of the women she met, who were surviving daily on drugs, but without long term prospects.

Wendy was motivated to set up her life skills program that was initially established to provide literacy and skills training to HIV positive women in the Masiphumelele. In the years that followed the program has expanded to accept a range of students, both male and female, and also provides computer training and practical skills training in sewing and dressmaking. Masicorp are pleased to partner with Wendy to assist in delivering the program and would like to extend our congratulations to her on the award of her doctorate. We look forward to seeing her back in South Africa to toast her success and start work with the new intake of life skills students in January.