The coming and going of cyclists from Songezo Jim’s cycling academy has become a regular sight since the professional cyclist started renting space at Chasmay Road. Songezo was aided in his move to the new premises by AWOL Tours who have helped him with sponsorship. AWOL have run a cycling tour of Masi for many years and have now decided to make their relationship with Songezo more formal. The AWOL bicycles are stored together with Songezo’s and the AWOL tour now begins at the Chasmay Road campus.
The new partnership was recently launched at an opening event on the campus. The AWOL Team invited the Songezo cycling academy cyclists to a BBQ / braai to meet the team. Nonny’s café and Mark’s braai bus provided a perfect launch feast and many plans for future cycling development were made.
The academy now has a workshop and storage space, and there is an opportunity to assist in developing Masiphumelele’s cycling legacy and training future AWOL cycling guides.
In addition to the regular cycling tour AWOL now introduce their guests to the Songezo cycling academy and also showcase the Masicorp crafters and artisans who share the premises at Chasmay Campus. During school term, the tour visits a local crèche and a proportion of every tourists booking fee continues to be donated to Masicorp to support the development of ECD in the community.
You can book the AWOL cycling tour HERE
There was some great news to start the new year for Masi Educare, when the pre-school received its official registration certificate from the Department of Social Development (DSD). Here is school principal Lindi Hangana proudly showing off the formal document.
Masi Educare now joins the Home of Love, Ikhaya Labantwana and Siyakhanya as early childhood development centres that have been formally registered with the DSD following Masicorp interventions.
If a facility takes care of more than six children (up to six years old) on behalf of their parents or caregivers during specific hours of the day or night, or for a temporary period, they can apply for the registration with the department of social development.
The process can take many months to complete and there is an extensive list of requirements that must be met. The final outcome is that each registered chreche can apply to receive government funding for each child. This funding is the key to the long term sustainability of the chreche and this week’s news is therefore a major boost to the long term operation of Masi Educare.
Last week we had the opportunity to sat farewell to Doreen Zanyiwe who formally retired from her role as the head of Ikhaya Labantwana Crèche in Masiphumelele. Masicorp has a long history with Doreen that goes back to 2001 when she first met up with John and Carol Thompson. At the time Doreen had given up her job in a hotel in Fish Hoek to run a small pre-school for a handful of children from her own one-room shack. She was part of a group of Masiphumelele women who wanted to change their lives and had written an article in The False Bay Echo asking for support for projects they wanted to set up. The Thompsons went in to the township and met her and her group and set about helping them with their requests. Masicorp was eventually able to transform her shack into a spacious, well-lit, two story facility. The pre-school now employs eight people and looks after more than 80 children between the ages of 2 and 5.
As Doreen said in her farewell speech “I asked John for a complete creche”. Subsequently the Thompsons funded the building of a house for Doreen which then expanded to an adjoining creche which then expanded further with a second floor. Doreen then undertook to complete her Matric, proceeded to gain her Level 5 ECD qualification and eventually to run one of the first pre-schools in Masiphumelele.
More recently Doreen has been studying for her Education Diploma which she has now completed. She decided last year that it was time to ‘retire’ to her home in the Eastern Cape, but it seems she will be continuing to teach! She has been offered a teaching position in a primary school near Butterworth.
One of the most inspiring moments at Doreen’s suprise farewell party was the choir who sang “Never ever ever give up!” This appears to be something of a motto for Doreen and reminds us of a poster that is on the wall in her office – a picture of a heron with a frog dangling from its mouth, hanging on for dear life!
We are delighted to have worked with Doreen over the past 15 years and wish her well in her retirement. In the meantime Ikhaya Labantwana continues to provide an essential start in the education of many of the youngsters from the Masiphumelele community.
It is pleasing to know that something good came out of the load shedding period that South Africa experienced during 2008. On one of those long dark nights in Johannesburg, Sarah Collins leapt out of bed at two in the morning with a brainwave. She had an idea of how to overcome load shedding and provide economical cooking based on her childhood growing up on a farm in a remote part of the country. She had watched her grandmother bundle blankets and cushions around a hot pot of stew to keep it cooking and conserve her limited fuel. She also remembered watching the San people bury food in the ground while they were cooking and eventually came up with a prototype for a heat-retention cooker, the Wonderbag. After food is brought to a boil, the pot is placed into this heavily-lined bag where it slow-cooks for up to eight hours.
Last week, in association with the City of Cape Town and Greenaudits, we arranged a workshop for 22 cooks from the pre-schools we work with in Masiphumelele to introduce them to the Wonderbag.
The ladies got to sample, rice, soup and stew cooked in the bags and the environmental benefits and cost savings were explained to all attendees.
In the last five years 700, 000 have been sold or donated across Africa and elsewhere in the world. Their use has saved energy use and reduced indoor air pollution from cooking on solid fuels, especially wood. This of course has enormous benefits for the children in a pre-school environment. Smoke inhalation is decreased and burns from cooking fires are minimized. And by freeing up time spent cooking, the Wonderbag gives back time to the pre-school staff to spend more time with the children.
All 22 participants received a Wonderbag for use in their pre-schools and we look forward to seeing them in use in the future.
We are always grateful to the many volunteers that give their time to support our educational projects. Recently we were pleased to receive assistance from Kate Meeser from the Department of Sport Science at Stellenbosch University. Kate gave her time to provide movement lessons to the learners at Masi Educare. You can view her photographs and report on the day below.
On the 26th of August, I was warmly welcomed by Masi Educare to host a small movement lesson for the age five to six-year-old age group. We started off the lesson with a musical dance warm-up and some stretches. The children were divided into four groups that rotated activity stations, spending ten minutes at each station. The activities included a hand-eye throwing task with various aiming skills, a station dedicated to balance and midline crossing, an agility task and target task. All stations included an element of gross and fine motor skills. The children were disciplined and obedient. After the first two rotations they were all working up a sweat while seeming to have a fun time. It was such a privilege being able to have a willing and keen group of children and even more so an involved and interested group of staff members. The session ended with a stretch and song. Hopefully in the future similar event can be held and the children continue to receive the movement education they require at the age.
Sport Science Stellenbosch
We are delighted to show the latest developments made at Masi Educare.
Most of the external work is now completed on the new classrooms.
Attention has switched to fitting out the interior. Many thanks to Masicorp volunteer Paul Dibley for his carpentry skills. Paul has also being helped by Vuyo – a young man from the community – to build this excellent furniture.
We have also received materials to complete the outside play area – and provide a soft landing for the children around the climbing frames.
Ultimately there will be an astro-turf surface to surround the play equipment.
Lots of jobs remain to complete the project – fire extinguishers to be installed, plumbing for sinks and toilets etc., but we are pleased to report everything remains on track for our planned opening early next year.
Last Wednesday we held a parents evening at Masi Educare and were delighted at the strong turnout from the community. Around 60 parents attended and were given a tour of the new facilities and an update on the likely completion date for the new pre-school.
This was an opportunity to promote the new facilities to the parents with a view to filling the classes for 2016 and fortunately it does not look like there will be any shortage of new applicants. We were also able to update parents on the forthcoming Christmas events and the graduation for the existing Grade R class as well as informing them of future community open days.
A crucial aspect of the evening was the setting up of a parent involvement team. To ensure the future sustainability of the pre-school we have requested that parents, volunteer their help and support. This group will be mentored, supported and upskilled to become the SGB (school governing body) who will in time be responsible for the running of the school.
Building work on the new classrooms continues, with flooring going down in the first of the new classrooms and the final roofing work in progress. We recently successfully hosted the City of Cape Town’s building inspector and hope to be issued with the certificate of occupation at the end of November. Despite the difficult times in Masiphumelele of late there remains plenty to smile about at Masi Educare.