The Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport visits Ukhanyo

Earlier this week Anroux Marais, the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, visited Ukhanyo Primary School  at the invitation of Vince van der Bijl the project leader of the MCC Masi 750 Sports Club. and the school principal, Michael Thayali.


The Minister first attended the Traditional Dance group practice session. Milli Firth, Masicorp MD, then took the Minister to the specialist English Lab sponsored by Masicorp and discussed the NGO’s academic support programme of the school.


The Minister was entertained by a netball practice and then a PE class conducted by Nceba Jonas. The cricket net practice was in full swing with over 50 cricketers – both boys and girls. Girls cricket has been recently introduced at the school for the first time and there was an array of coaches for the minisiter to meet – headed by sport coordinator Teddy Nyali.

The Minister concluded her visit with a meeting at the Masicorp offices to discuss the possible ways the Western Cape Government can assist the school and the project with its sport and cultural affairs agenda.

Tracksuits Distributed at Ukhanyo Primary School

Two years ago we began distributing tracksuits to learners at Ukhanyo School thanks to a generous donation from SOMB. The tracksuits have proved so popular that we have continued offering them to new pupils arriving at the school. With the winter now just around the corner we distributed the first set of new tracksuits at the school last week.

The tracksuits continue to be made at The Sewing Café in Masiphumelele; hence, this also supports a local business. They remain incredibly popular and you can be sure to see them worn by children all around the community during these colder months of the year.

Sports Trader Helps Masicorp Source Tracksuits for Ukhanyo School

We are very grateful to Sports Trader for their hard work in sourcing tracksuits and other sports kit for the pupils of Ukhanyo School. The full story was recently published on the Sports Trader web site and is reproduced here.


Sports Trader was humbled and very impressed with the offers of help from industry members when we told them how sport and educations was being used to bring hope to the youngsters in the impoverished Masiphumelele township

Many companies in the sport and outdoor retail industry already invest substantially in CSI projects, but when we heard the inspiring story of the work being done by coach Nceba Jonas and the Masicorp Trust in the impoverished Masiphumelele community (between Kommetjie and Fish Hoek near Cape Town) we took the liberty of asking them to assist with much-needed tracksuits.

We were very grateful and impressed by the many, many offers of assistance we received — especially from Kappa SA, ASICS SA and retailer American Clothing, who were first off the mark to generously offer free donations of tracksuits for community netball teams and their coaches.

Springbok suppliers ASICS SA did not hesitate to respond to our request: “We will certainly see how we can assist and support,” said marketing manager Sarah Mundy. “We do already support other causes, however, given the nature of your request, we will see how we can assist.”

While they did not have complete tracksuits available, Wesley Tam, Core Performance Sports Marketing Executive, supplied hooded tops and tracksuit pants for the coaches.

“As a brand, Kappa SA believes in helping to grow the community of South Africa,” says Ricky Joseph, who donated 14 tracksuits for one netball team. “A project such as this is something that we feel extremely touched by. While kids may have the most amazing skills and attributes, sometimes to look and feel good is as important. We believe that by donating these tracksuits to these athletes we will give them an added ability on and off the field. We want to uplift as many disadvantaged communities as possible and enable even those less fortunate in our country to be able to look and feel the best while competing.”

Kamlesh Chagan, owner of the American Clothing stores in Cape Town, believes in supporting the Southern Peninsula communities that have been supporting his family’s business for the past 50 years, after his father opened their first store in Retreat. “I believe in giving back to organisations that support the communities in the areas where I grew up, who provided our family with an income,” he says.

They receive requests for donations on almost a daily basis and he has become wary of everybody knocking on their doors. But, he does support organisations that are empowering young adults surrounded by influences like drugs, etc. to rather follow a path powered by sport or education, says Chagan. He therefore gladly bought matching tracksuits from Kappa at a special price to donate to another Masiphumelele netball team.

After considering several initiatives, Sports Trader decided to support the Masicorp Trust, which has been providing educational and community-based support to the Masiphumelele township since 1999, where more than 38 000 people live disadvantaged and poor (see

What appealed to us is the fact that the Masicorp Trust focuses on education as the way out of poverty, instead of hand-outs.

But, most of all, we were inspired by the enthusiastic sports organiser who, we believe, deserves as much support as possible. The Masicorp Trust pays the salary of community member coach Nceba Jonas, who chairs the community sports programme and also:

  • With the help of volunteers and in partnership with the NGO Goodsport, runs the physical education programme at Ukhanyo Primary School;
  • In the afternoons he also coaches the primary school teams in soccer, rugby, cricket and netball. They have been doing exceptionally well and often win their matches against sporting schools in this league and the principal’s office is filled with trophies won by the sports teams. Their netball team is the current holders of the Southern Peninsula League Championship title.
  • In addition, coach Nceba is chairman of the Masi community sports council and coaches community teams (who required the tracksuits) at the Fish Hoek Pirates netball and soccer club. And if that is not enough, he also runs aerobics classes in the community hall in the evenings.

The Masiphumelele community is very poor and parents struggle to afford sports kit — the primary school teams have therefore been competing in generic white T-shirts and shorts against well-equipped opponents wearing proper kits.

Coach Nceba has a dream that all his teams will one day be able to meet their opponents wearing proper school team kit, which would give his young learners the confidence to meet other schools on equal footing.


Cycling for Ukhanyo School

Masiorp is always very grateful to our generous donors, and particularly those that go out of their way to raise funds through completing events such as the Two Oceans Marathon and the Cape Argus. Many donors also raise funds for our projects by arranging events overseas. A few months ago, two ex-students of our Ukhanyo School volunteer, Fran Loudon, held a fundraising cycling event with their friends. They had met Fran during her time teaching in County Clare Ireland, and they cycled around Achill Island off County Mayo. At 24 x 19 km Achill Island is the largest Achill Island - on the edge of the Atlantic off County“island off Ireland”. It is a beautiful location with sandy beaches, crystal clear water, striking mountains and sheer cliffs. However, it is also a wild place on the edge of the Atlantic and the weather can be challenging. Fortunately, it seems the sun was shining and the Island was at her best on the day of the cycle ride.

The main organiser was Sinead Greene, and she was supported by others including Sarah Bhreathnach (that’s Walsh in Irish!). Sinead is now a lawyer and Sarah now a teacher. This was Sinead’s first fundraising event and the fact that they thought of us at Masicorp led to Fran commenting:

“It’s so great to see young professionals caring and organising for those with fewer opportunities, in this case ‘the poorest of the poor’. It really warms my heart”.

Sarah Walshe Cycling for UkhanyoSinead Greene cycling for UkhnayoThey raised Euro 1000 which will be used to continue funding the ‘Classroom Makeover Project” in Ukhanyo School, which is now in its second year now of providing, repairing, and replacing many of the resources needed for teachers to teach and learners to learn. This includes building works, furniture, windows, doors, chairs, desks, ceilings and shelves, not to mention teaching aids like whiteboards, maps, posters etc. Running parallel to these physical improvements and for sustainability, the whole school community is engaged in an education and ownership program for their new and improved resources as we reported on in a posting earlier this year.

This Project has made a big difference, is very popular within the school, and we really appreciate the support of Sinead and her friends.

A Track Suit Handover by SOMB at Ukhanyo Primary School

eva_longoriaEarlier this week Masicorp was pleased to host Will Bennett, James Williams, and Chris Norqual – three of the five founding members of American clothing company, SOMB, (SHIRT OFF MY BACK). The four letter word, SOMB, is an abbreviation for the widely-used expression in pop culture, “shirt off my back.” Based in Los Angeles the company describe their product lines as, “an eclectic mix of t-shirts, tank tops and hoodies inspired by California’s relaxed street style.” Since their formation in 2010, SOMB attire has become popular with celebrities worldwide including Desperate Housewives actress, Eva Longoria (right) and the London Wasps rugby team (below).

wasps-smallSOMB is a fashion company with a conscience and for every article of clothing they sell in the United States they provide a school uniform to a child in Africa. Will and James initially contacted us with a view to including Ukhanyo Primary School among the many schools they work with in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa. Unfortunately at the time the school year had just begun and most children were already fitted out in their new uniforms. However, we are not far away from the Cape winter, which is a time when children find their uniforms are not warm enough for the cold and damp conditions. SOMB therefore kindly agreed to fund the provision of school track suits to each child and we arranged for the first batch of fifty to be made ready for this week.

1 UniformsThis has also been good news for the Sewing Café – another of Masicorp’s projects in the township. The ladies have been awarded the contract to produce the tracksuits and proudly showed off the freshly prepared garments to Will, James, and Chris on their arrival. Over at the school we later saw several children already proudly wearing their tracksuits after the first batch was delivered earlier in the morning. With the continued support of SOMB and the hard work of the ladies of the Sewing Café every child will be wearing warm clothing over their uniforms this winter. This is a great initiative, not just for the children but also the Sewing Café who have picked up a significant amount of work through the project.

2 UniformsIt was just left for the children to show off their football and basketball skills to Will, James, and Chris who were kept on their toes by some skilful and enthusiastic footwork from the youngsters. All of SOMB’s founders are keen sportsmen and first met over a game of hockey so it was the perfect end to an action packed morning. We cannot thank SOMB enough for their generous financial support, which has made a real difference in Masiphumelele. It was a pleasure to host Will, James, and Chris and we look forward to seeing them again in the future.

3 uniforms

A Wonderful Opportunity for Michael Tyhali

Ukhanyo_ PrincipalAlthough Masicorp’s projects largely provide opportunities for the young learners in Masiphumelele we also recognize that the training of the teachers and administrative staff that work with the students is crucial for improving their learning experience. Last year we were made aware of a funding opportunity for Ukhano Primary School Headmaster, Michael Thyali to attend the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice for School Leaders at UCT in 2014. The program leads to a nationally recognized qualification and is targeted at School Principals currently leading Primary or High Schools in South Africa. It recognizes that while School Principals may be excellent teachers, they have probably never received the sort of management training that will make them effective leaders, particularly in schools with limited resources and large numbers of learners.

With the help of Masicorp volunteer, Fran Louden, Michael completed his application last year and was delighted to have been accepted onto the course for 2014. Competition was tough as the programme is fully funded by the NPO Principal’s Academy and costs approximately 200,000 Rand per principal. The intensive selection procedure involved visits to the school by the selectors before Michael was invited to apply.

Earlier this week The Principals Academy hosted Michael and his family at Café Roux with an invited audience of local residents where Bruce Probyn (ex headmaster of Herschel School) spoke about the challenges of leading a school. Bruce is part of a team of former education professionals who now work with The Principals Academy to coach and mentor course attendees through the training programme at UCT. Michael can expect a weekly visit as he progresses through the course and upskills his teaching experience to a management level.

The Principals Academy is a section 18(a) trust set up to administer donor funding to meet the costs of the educational program. Many of the Nordhoek residents attending the event expressed an interest in donating towards the costs of Michael’s tuition fees and so assisting the Principals Acadamy to provide the mentoring support to Michael. We know from the success of our bursary students how crucial effective mentoring is to success in higher education. If you would like to help please feel free to contact the trustees John Le Roux (, 021 689 8975) or June Forte (, 021 286 0009).


A Book Handover at Ukhanyo Primary School

As part of the recent Mandela Day activities two friends of Masicorp’s Sophie Billington, Sean and Tracey Fraser, contacted all their friends and asked them if they would be prepared to donate money to purchase tables and chairs for the crèches in Masiphumelele. Sean is an editor and Tracey a graphic designer who illustrates and prepares the layout of books. Simon and Tracey also contacted the publishing houses that they work with and asked them for help.

The results were spectacular as they managed to raise R13,738 from 20 generous supporters and contributors. As a result, Masicorp were able to hand over 33 tables and 132 chairs to five crèches in Masiphumelele, as well as reading books (courtesy Pearson Education SA), reams of paper (fresh, clean and white – a real treat for kids who only ever get to draw on scrap paper), crayons, HB pencils, sharpeners and scissors: the things many other children take for granted at school but are sadly often in short supply in Masiphumelele.

Last Thursday was the handover day for the new books in the library at Ukhanyo Primary School. About 200 brand new isiXkhosa books for early readers were handed over to the obvious delight of the youngsters.

ukhanyo book handoverMany books donated in areas such as Masiphumelele are not in the Children’s home language. Although proficiency in English is crucial in later schooling at the early learner stage it is important to encourage children to read as early as possible and therefore books in their home language are a key starting point. This can be seen from the young reader in the top right of our photo montage with her isiXkhosa copy of “Indlela ende eya kuTata”  (A Long Way to Baba), which uses a family outing to explain mathematics through distance and time.

Sean and Tracey commented:

Following our experience with the Masiphumelele crèches in July, we discovered that access to books among primary school learners – in other words, new and young readers – was extremely limited, and even more so when it comes to books in the home languages. So, with the generous support of local publishers, most notably Cambridge University Press Africa, we were able to source a wonderful supply of books and early-reading developmental aids for kids who progress from those crèches to Big School in Masiphumelele. Thank you to Cambridge University Press – and happy reading, kids!