Songezo Jim’s Cycling Academy

chasmay-8We recently met up with one of Masiphumelele’s most famous residents, professional cyclist, Songezo Jim. Songezo has established a cycling academy in Masiphumelele and we are pleased to be able to help out by providing space for his bicycles at our premises at Chasmay Road campus. A couple of years ago Songezo was lucky enough to have received a donation of fifteen bicycles from a Dutch organisation and that has kick started his academy. You may have seen him leading groups of Masiphumelele youths out on the roads of the peninsula during the summer weekends.

Songezo has had an interesting journey to where he is at the moment, and provides an excellent role model to the youngsters of his home town. He was born in Umtata, Eastern Cape, where he had dreams of being the next Lucas Radebe (former Bafana Bafana captain) rather than a professional cyclist. It was when he moved to Masiphumelele in 2005 that he first developed an interest in cycling after he watched the Cape Argus as the racers passed the township on the way back into Cape Town. He could not ride a bicycle at the time, but he joined the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, a non-profit cw6zawexeaa8jzsorganisation that uses cycling to provide young people from disadvantaged communities with the opportunities they need to turn their lives around. A few years later and he was riding the Argus himself. He turned professional in 2013, moved up country to Johannesburg and went on to make history by being the first black South African to compete in a World Tour event. As a rider for MTN-Qhubeka (now Dimension Data) he finished the Vuelta a Espana in 2015.

Sadly he was later released by Dimension Data and finds himself ending 2016 without a team to ride for. The upside is that he has been able to return to Masi and focus on the development of his academy. With around 40 youngsters keen to participate he is having to take groups out in shifts using the 15 bicycles we currently have stored at the campus. While he is working on finding a new team to race his current need is for more bicycles, more helmets, and more spare parts. If you can help Songezo please contact him via facebook or twitter. Alternatively please visit his Back-a-Buddy campaign page to leave a donation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Farewell to Doreen Zanyiwe

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.

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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.

never-give-upOne 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!

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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.

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Graduation Day at Masi Educare

Saturday was graduation day for Grade R at Masi Educare. We are pleased to share some of the photo’s of what was a very successful end to the academic year.

It started with a lot of preparation – from the kitchens to the exterior of the building.

And of course a lot of preparation for the learners.

Eventually we were ready to begin.

Certificates were awarded.

And we finished with refreshments.

Congratulations to all of the graduates, who now move on to life at primary school.

Hiking with the Learners from Ukhanyo School

Masicorp has recently started working with Cape Town based Active Hearts to provide outdoor activities for the children at Ukhanyo Primary School. Active Hearts have a mission to involve and train children, from differing, disadvantaged areas across Cape Town, in various sports and activities not normally available to them.

This very much matches our awareness of the importance of physical education. As Active Hearts state on their own website:

The benefits of sport and activity are immense and far-reaching, giving confidence, teaching discipline, teamwork and a sense of security and belonging.   A ‘family;’ being part of something you can rely on; equipping the children to face the very real challenges in their lives with a renewed optimism.

Active Hearts have been providing monthly hikes for selected children from Ukhanyo School. School sports coach Nceba Jonas has brought groups of around 25 learners to meet with Active Hearts and together they have hiked through the local mountains and along the beautiful beach at Nordhoek. The day typically ends with a picnic on the beach. We are pleased to share some of the most recent photographs from this month’s hike.

This will be an on ongoing partnership, with the next event planned to take the learners over the mountain and into the slightly different environment of the Constantia Valley. Our thanks to the team at Active Hearts for enabling the Masiphumelele learners to experience the wonders of their local environment.

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Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) visit Ukhanyo School

We were delighted to recently welcome some of the local and international staff of the Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) to Ukhanyo School last week. RGA are an international global life and health reinsurance company with operations in 27 countries, including offices in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Their visit was part of their giving 67 minutes for Mandela Day, which is an annual event in South Africa. Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years and the concept of the day is for everyone (individuals and corporations) to give at least 67 minutes of their time to Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.

Our visitors from RGA generously provided an incredible 1,830 pre-prepared packs of gifts for the children, which were distributed one to each child. Every child in each grade received a pack. Quite a logistical feat for the visitors, staff and Masicorp volunteers. Each pack contained learning materials, health products (e.g., toothpaste) and healthy food (oranges and apples), as well as a few sweets as a treat.

It was also an opportunity for the staff of RGA to meet our team and learn about our projects at the school. Everyone was able to see for themselves by visiting the Maths, English and Science Labs as well as the new running track that has now been installed at the school. The Maths Lab in particular has benefited from a kind donation from RGA and was one of the highlights of the tour. We are hugely grateful for the interest of RGA in our work and hope that this can be the start of a longer term relationship as we further develop the sports and teaching facilities at the school.

There was a lot of excitement among the pupils with their bags of goodies, but it was lovely to see them taking the time to thank the visitors personally. This included one of the pupils giving a hand written note of thanks to one of our visitors before they departed. Our team, the school staff and the learners all hope it will not be too long before the next visit.

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