Vusumnotfo - Building a Preschool in Rural Swaziland (7882) - Progress Report 4 - November 1, 2011
As I noted in my last report, the project is now at what I call “the fun part” - with construction progressing very nicely - and a donation of $2,444 from a fifteen year old American student…… keep reading!
Apologies, somehow I uploaded photos in wrong order and given internet connection in rural Swaziland, changing them is a seriously painful task; for that reason, photos are not presented or labelled in numerical order.
Photo 1 - Public Works Department (PWD) inspected on October 25, and as shown, the walls were up to roof level.
The building in the background shows the primary school that these children will be attending. Towards the end of the year, Nellie Mhlabane (the preschool teacher) takes the preschool students on a walk about to the primary school, during which she introduces them to the Grade 1 teacher and explains that this is the school they will be attending next year.
Photo 9 - the builder worked so quick that on October 28th, PWD had to inspect again; the builder’s contract requires PWD to inspect at set points in the process, which are also linked to payments.
Photo 2 - True Dlamini, the builder’s right hand hand, ensuring that roofing sheets are straight.
Photo 3 - Community members carrying supplies to the site. To ensure safety, the community selects a homestead for Vusumnotfo to delivery the supplies to; thereafter it is the job of the community to ensure that the supplies are brought to site, day by day, as the builder needs them. The Preschool Committee, who reports to the Chief's Inner Council, organizes the rotation of community labour.
Vusumnotfo’s job is to ensure purchase and delivery of supplies to the selected homestead. We either have someone go along with the delivery truck or we provide the designated community member with a copy of the delivery note.
Photo 4 - Community helpers for the day, waiting their turn to go fetch supplies from the homestead providing storage, to the building site; in this particular situation, it is about a 2 Km round trip (1.24 miles).
Photo 10 & 5 - Keri Dziuban visiting Cetjwayo preschool site on August 3, as a means to assess the project potential for her sister in law, Alex Dziuban. Alex is a Valley Lutheran High School sophomore (Saginaw, Michigan) whose older brother Eric Dziuban is currently serving two years at an HIV clinic for children in Mbabane, Swaziland.
As soon as Alex heard about the conditions that many Swazi children face, she wanted to help - "I heard about how little the children there had," she said. "I knew education would be really important in helping them improve their lives."
Alex titled her fundraising venture Project 23.3. The name is a reference to the astonishing statistic that 23.3% of children in Swaziland are orphans, with one or both parents deceased. In Swaziland, the usual culprit is HIV: Swaziland has the world's highest rate of the infection and as a result also has the world's lowest life expectancy (37 years); two-thirds of the population live on less that $2 per day; only one in 12 children is able to complete high school.
After several attempts of “going it alone” to initiate a viable project to support young children in Swaziland, Keri and Eric hooked up with Vusumnotfo. The end result is that on October 21, $2,444 was deposited in the Vusumnotfo bank account (clearing at SZL19,559 - as these funds were not routed through GlobalGiving, you will notice that I have reduced the project budget on the Global Giving posting by $2,444). Alex raised the majority of these funds through motivational talks within her community and church.
Alex’s efforts also motivated some Swazi teenage boys living close to Eric and Keri (in the capital city of Mbabane), to get involved by organizing a car wash to raise local donations. "It is really great that a student in America wants to help children in Swaziland," said Menzi Ngcamphalala, 15. "We want to also help so people know that we care and we are thankful for their kindness."
Please check out - http://project23-3.blogspot.com - for photos of car washing, some great follow up Skype sharing between Alex and the Swazi guys, and more details on the efforts of Alex, Eric, and Keri…. you will be inspired. For her own part, Alex is planning to visit Swaziland in December / early January.
Photo 6 - Owen Tfwala, Public Works Department Inspector, greeting “future enrolment” of Cetjwayo Preschool.
Photo 7 - The crap road going into Cetjwayo. The photo doesn’t do justice to the steepness on either side of the bridge; the rocks placed to fill where the bridge has started to wash out were put by the community in preparation for Vusumnotfo delivering the building supplies. Even with this, when the clay soil is wet, there is always a bit of luck in crossing this bridge straight on (and little room for error). After a rain, community members on the other side of the bridge walk about 4 Km (2.4 miles) to catch public transport.
Although the rains have now started (a very good thing where subsistence agriculture is the norm and rural unemployement is 46%) this situation shouldn’t delay us as the majority of the building supplies are already on site (building “season” in Swaziland is after harvest (April / May) and before the start of rains (October / November).
So what is next? - as I am writing this a staff member is driving to Cetjwayo (50 Km / 30 miles from Vusumnotfo office) to have a look see, prior to the next PWD inspection which is scheduled for November 8th. Construction should be done by end of November, if not before. The Preschool graduation is scheduled for November 14 - we might almost make that date but most likely will still have some finishing work.
After this we will take a bit of a pause; for community members to plough and plant, for Vusumnotfo to do the necessary preparations for the play ground, and to respect the Encwala ceremony (a key traditional ceremony in Swaziland - already His Majesty has gone into seclusion, indicating that preparations are now under way).
Photo 8 - is just a bit of local interest…. plastic containers and bags collected for resell at the Mbabane market. These containers are used for a wide variety of day to day tasks, including fetching drinking water and storing cooking fuel; in Vusumnotfo’s kitchen garden training, we also promotes the use of “buried bottle watering” as a water wise practice i.e.) watering straight to the roots reduces water usage (by reducing water loss through evaporation) and diseases (by ensuring that stems and leaves do not get wet).
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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