Dear Global Givers,
I have a very good news to share with you. Our main center in Coffee Bay, which we opened with the help of Global Giving, is now able to stand on its own feet. This means that from now on, we will be able to channel all of your donations to the satellite center of Mahosheni.
As you might remember, Mahosheni is located about 10 km from the Coffee Bay center, which is a huge distance to travel on foot, especially for the people that need our care (young children, elderly, people living with HIV-AIDS). We opened a kindergarten and a grocery store a few months ago and we also started a vegetable garden, which will help us reduce our operating costs while providing the community with a source of food.
Thanks to your donations, we were able to start the construction of two additional buildings which we will use to house those community members (mainly orphans and women) who are no longer able to live with their biological families. A group of young volunteers that has been living with us for months is donating many, many hours of hard labor to turn this project into a reality, despite our very small budget. Your donations made it possible for us to buy the materials that we needed to start the construction work.
I will leave you with some pictures that I took in February during my last visit. In these pictures you can see some of the children we look after, our vegetable garden, and some of the volunteers working on the buildings.
Thank you, from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts.
As a new year is about to begin, all of us at Our Place would like to express our gratitude for your unswerving support and for all the wonderful things it has made possible in the past twelve months.
As you might remember from our last update, we have created a satellite structure in area called Mahosheni, which is located about 10 km from our main center in Coffee Bay. You might also remember that we have created a new kindergarten in one of the huts. We need to expand our kindergarten as soon possible because, given the effects of the AIDS pandemic in the area, there are more and more children who need the care we provide at our kindergarten. In addition to receiving pre-school training, our children receive a balanced meal each day, which helps them maintain their immune system. Sadly, this is often not the case for many children of the area whose parents – if they are still alive – are too poor to provide food on a daily basis.
The tribal authorities have given us the land to expand our satellite center, and we have already begun to dig the foundations for the new building. In addition to providing a bigger classroom, the new building will also include bedrooms where we can house some of the orphans of the area who need to be within our family structure on a full-time basis. A group of forty university students from the Port Elisabeth area has already committed to spending time with us to help with the construction work, which we will begin as soon as we can raise the necessary money to buy the rest of the materials that are needed. We need approximately $2000 to buy more bricks, plus another $2000 to buy cement, doors, windows, and other materials.
The grocery store that we opened a few months ago to make this project more self-sufficient has been a very big success. The residents of the areas love it because they no longer have to walk 10 km each way to buy basic groceries such as rice, beans, flour, milk, and paraffin. Business has been very good, and we have been investing the revenue generated to increase our stock in order to meet the demand.
Thank you once again, from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts and best wishes for a prosperous new year.
In my last update, I mentioned that we urgently needed to create a satellite structure in area that is located about 10 km from our main center in Coffee Bay. I also mentioned that the tribal authorities had provided us with some land and some huts that needed to be renovated. Thanks to your generosity, this has been done, and the satellite center, located in an area called Maosheni, is now a reality.
In this new facility, we have created a new kindergarten in one of the huts. This is making it possible for the children of the Maosheni area to receive pre-school literacy training and a balanced meal each day, which helps them maintain their immune system. At present, there are about twelve children attending the new kindergarten. Some of them live with us within our foster family structure, while others return to their biological families at the end of the day. This is in addition to the approximately twenty children who attend our kindergarten at our main center. So, in total, more than thirty children are attending one of our two kindergartens in the Coffee Bay area.
Just like we have done at the main center, we have started a community garden to reduce our operating costs and to provide the local community with a source of food. Spinach, tomatoes, and green peppers are some of the crops we have planted.
Last but not least, we have been able to open a small grocery store in the new facility. This project is improving considering the quality of life for the community. Residents of the area no longer have to walk 10 km each way to buy basic groceries such as rice, beans, flour, milk, and paraffin. Also, this small store has provided a training and employment opportunity for women of the area. Finally, this business operation is allowing us to buy food for our children at wholesale prices. Most importantly, the profits that are being generated by the store are a step towards making our project self-sufficient.
Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the satellite center yet, but I should be able to post some within the next couple of weeks.
Thank you once again, from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts.
Dear Global Givers,
First of all, sorry for the long silence. I have just come back from a long trip to South Africa, during which I was able to spend time at Our Place-Coffee Bay. I had not been there since 2008, and I could hardly believe how much things have changed: buildings that were barely standing and had no roof are now fully functional and are providing a home for about twenty people living with HIV. As soon as I have figured out how to do this, I will post the pictures I have just taken and put them next to the ones that I took in 2008 so that you can see with your own eyes what a big difference your donations are making. In the meantime, I will try describe what the place looks like.
The main building, which is made of concrete and bricks, consists of a kitchen, where we cook meals for our residents, but also for several people from the area who come to Our Place during the day. Some of these are the children who attend our kindergarten; some of them are adults who work in the community garden that we started; others are people of any age who need something to eat. There are also two bedrooms in the main house, each of which has seven beds.
In addition to the main building, there are two “rondavels,” or round huts made of mud with a straw roof. One of these functions as an additional bedroom and contains seven more beds, while the other is our kindergarten. The kindergarten hut is painted with colorful graffiti. Inside, there are small plastic chairs and tables, a desk, educational posters and toys. We are in the process of building an extension to the hut with a sink so that children and teachers can wash their hands more easily.
Part of the communal garden is now protected by a “vegetable tunnel,” or a simple greenhouse structure that has increased the productivity of our land. This is extremely important not only because the harvest lowers our operating costs, but also because it is the main means of sustenance for many people who live in the area.
Our most urgent project is the creation of another kindergarten a couple of miles away from our property. This is because there are many children in need there who cannot walk this distance everyday. The tribal authorities have already offered us a piece of land and a hut. We need you support to renovate this hut and buy the necessary equipment. We are also going to start a communal vegetable garden and a kitchen to feed the children and the many people of the area who are not able to eat every day.
Thank you once again, from all of us, for all your support.
It is time for an update from Our Place-Coffee Bay, the center for people living with HIV-AIDS that we were able to open with your support.
We currently have approximately twenty children living with us, plus approximately ten adolescents and adults. All these people were no longer able to live with their biological families because of the consequences of poverty and AIDS. At Our Place they have become part of a new loving family structure where adults look after children as mother and father figures.
In addition to looking after our full-time residents, we are continuing to function as a community center offering free-meals, day care, counseling, and advocacy to the many people of the area who have been affected by the AIDS pandemic.
The children are on school holiday these days, but our kindergarten cafeteria is still open in order to provide healthy food to all the people who rely on Our Place for their sustenance. In addition to our residents, at least 15 children come to Our Place everyday to attend our kindergarten. Sadly, the biological families of these children are often too poor to feed them on a daily basis.
It is now winter in South Africa, and cabbage, spinach, and green peppers are some of the seasonal crops that we are now reaping from the vegetable garden that we started for the community. This project has made Our Place more self-sustainable by cutting down our operating costs. In addition, the garden is a very important resource for several families living in the area who are now able to work on the land. Thanks to the harvest, these people and their extended families can feed themselves with their work. As soon as our finances will allow, we will build some “vegetable tunnels” These are basic greenhouse structures that will help us generate a more abundant harvest. Each of these structures costs the equivalent of $700, and we need to build at least two in the area.
We also need to create an additional bedroom that would allow us to take in seven more children. In the area around Coffee Bay, the rate of HIV infection has reached apocalyptic proportions, and due to the conditions of extreme poverty that most people are forced to endure, the life expectancy is very low. Because of this, many children have lost their parents. Often, these children cannot be looked after by a member of their extended family because their aunts, their uncles, or grandparents might have also died of AIDS or they might be too poor to feed another mouth.
Since our last update, we have been able to build two more toilets, which we urgently needed, given the number of people who live and come to Our Place everyday.
We need to keep growing in order to meet the need for food, shelter, palliative care, and a caring family structure in the area. We need to strengthen our presence in Coffee Bay also because, by living with dignity, our people are role models in the fight against the stigma of HIV-AIDS in the community. Fighting the stigma is essential, as many of the victims of the pandemic are subjected to discrimination and abuse.
Thank you for making all this possible. Thank you from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts. And please, feel free to contact me. I will do my best to answer your questions.
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