Jul 9, 2020

Our Community Work Living with Kids and COVID-19

Teen Independent Living family, with masks
Teen Independent Living family, with masks

                     

And how has Kwethu Children’s Village fared during the COVID-19 pandemic? Well, like everywhere, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown in South Africa certainly changed eager expectations for our university and high school young people who have grown up at Kwethu Children’s Village. With grace, courage and good humour, Mr and Mrs Mbongwa, house parents, welcomed 11+ ‘sons and daughters’ into the proposed and developing KCV Teen Independent Living house, squeezing into 4 bedrooms, as work places, universities, schools closed down. Costs increased significantly due to the need for more groceries, internet for on line school, and water purchase for the household of 15. “This virus is not sent to kill us, but to teach us the power of Love and Wisdom, patience and the strength of our faith in God” the students were reminded.  The TIL House provided food, activities, emotional support and inclusion for the 11 member Nkampie-Mayaba siblings and children, all of whom grew up at KCV, now living on their grandmother’s small holding.

For the main KCV campus, security had to be hired, as teachers and artisans vacated the premises, and subsequent theft of vegetables and fencing sadly made this necessary. Loss of a portion of rental money hurt our pocket, although volunteers came in to cut grass and replace fencing. We have had to carry the costs of extensive sanitizing common areas, now that teachers are able to return to work and out or area nurse renting from KCV, to the Injesuthi Clinic

 

From their individual homes, the Kosipho Sewing business (usually located on campus), made masks and distributed these from our central office. KCV volunteers and staff distributed food parcels donated by government and private entities throughout the area, working with other NGO’s to do so. The surrounding community has been hard hit by loss of employment and poverty,  but we’ve been able to creatively innovate and happily survive, thanks to your generous, kind support. During this time, we’ve strengthened financial and governance operations, improved program reporting, replanted the vegetable gardens, and fixed water systems. Even more excitingly, your support has provided the ‘steam’ to attract not one, but two, young couples with skills they are willing to invest in bringing our vision for orphans and vulnerable children and education to fruition.

We are humbled by the power of collaboration and the influence of Kwethu’s enviable track record in raising children to productive adulthood. And who can overlook the unmistakable benevolent aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people, including yourself as a donor, invest resources into what each of us knows really matters in life: relationships that guide and protect children on their way to independence? Thank you so very much for your treasured support.  

Caring 'mom' visiting KCV kids on lockdown
Caring 'mom' visiting KCV kids on lockdown
serving hungry families
serving hungry families
hikes during Lockdown
hikes during Lockdown

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Jun 18, 2020

Lockdown unlocks opportunities....with a focus on Leadership!!

Andrew Stead leads the Principal Workshop 13 March
Andrew Stead leads the Principal Workshop 13 March

Thanks so much to our faithful supporters .... we could NOT have survived the past few months without you. Who could ever have imagined that our world would change so much between reports? We have "bitten the bullet" and reverted to the drawing board to re-chart our path for the year ahead. Schools have closed and re-opened, but choirs are unlikely to be permitted until the end of the year. So far, South Africa  appears to have flattened the curve sufficiently to enable our medical facilities to cope, but we still haven't reached our COVID peak. 

Fortunately before lockdown, we were able to continue our March SCHOOL PRINCIPALS WORKSHOP with Andrew Stead from The Foundation of School Leadership and Management. Principals and heads of department from 3 Isiphethu Sothukela schools attended, together with Bill Carter on behalf of Champagne Valley Trust.  The costs of the training were kindly shared by the Michaelhouse Community Partnership, who held an equivalent session on the previous day for 23 Midlands principals. Thank you to Trafalgar Property Management for sponsoring all the printed materials. Dates for the remainder of this years Principal Workshops are 10 July, 2 October and 27 November. 

Blessed with the time to reflect, think, plan, write.... our project facilitator Judith Hawthorn has documented  an outline of the syllabus in 16 lessons for Grade 3, and then also for Grade 4-7 . She has captured  the essential steps for any school choir to prepare for particpation in a Music Festival  and for the annual Siyacula Concert, as well as for the ABRSM Choral Examinations. Sadly, it seems that none of these events will take place this year.

Last year, the ABRSM representative for KZN, Bridget Harrison, expressed the hope that the Legacy Project would be replicated throughout South Africa. We have accordingly set our sights on this vision. The plethora of virtual learning platforms prompted our engagement with EDGE Education to digitise the syllabus. We have also submitted a funding proposal to National Arts and Culture with a view to rolling out this project in more schools from 2022. Senior Master of Culture at Michaelhouse has expressed his willingness to assist in the Midlands, and our own Judith Hawthorn (now located in the Hilton area) will look to commence the project around Pietermaritzburg, KZN. We would love any and all contributions to these efforts..... volunteers, assistance with logistics, catering at workshops or festivals, and direct donations all welcomed with open arms.

Deep appreciation again from the Champagne Valley Trust, PSI Projects, principals, conductors and choristers for your time, generosity and interest in this very rewarding project... truly changing schools and the lives of so many children!! 

Principal Leadership Workshop 13 March 2020
Principal Leadership Workshop 13 March 2020
Trafalgar and MHS sponsored all printed material
Trafalgar and MHS sponsored all printed material

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Feb 27, 2020

2020 Rings in the Changes with a Cracking Start!

Bill Carter .... the heartbeat behind the scenes
Bill Carter .... the heartbeat behind the scenes

Thank Goodness for Giving Tuesday!! And THANK YOU, our treasured donors and supporters.We are thrilled to be invited by GlobalGiving to extend our project to a second year, and to have achieved Superstar Status with Effective, Vetted and Top-Ranked Organisation Badges!! After a very successful  London Fundraiser in October 2019 at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London, your generous donations in response to our appeals were gratefully received. In fact more than that.... they were increased by a whopping 30% through the GlobalGiving  "Matched Funding Campaign" on Giving Tuesday in early December. Additional donations were welcomed from the generous Christmas collection plates of St Clement Anglican Chapel at Vondeling Wine Estate, Paarl  and from the Champagne Valley's  Carols by Candelight Service. We will be adding these kind congregants to our quarterly reports. Thank you again, one and all!

A positive bank balance has  enabled us to plan for the year ahead and to get off to an excellent start in 2020. Thank you to  Bill Carter for appointing new conductor, Mark Wallace,  to lead our  school choirs and mentor their conductors. Mark is a former Drakensberg Boys Choir School (DBCS) graduate and works part-time at one of the lodges in the Champagne Valley, so is ideally placed geographically for this project. He will be supported by recently retired Bergville Principal Gill Green, Charlotte Bower and Lynn Sclanders, together with our project stalwart Judith Hawthorne. Judith will be  co-ordinating and supervising the project this year, rather than doing grassroots work in the schools. We are excited to hear that she is planning a replica of the project down in her hometown Pietermaritzburg, motivated by the favourable reports of the ABRSM. We will be motivating for more schools to particpate in the  ABRSM choral examinations this year. We were delighted to hear that Nkosi Mjwayeli Choir featured with their on conductor at one of the DOE workshops. We are deeply appreciative of Mr Nathi Ndlovu of the Department of Education in KZN, which has committed to continue their support of the project. 

The Michaelhouse Community Partership has recognised the benefits of the Principal Leadership Workshops and has agreed to share costs of these with us in 2020, offering them to the "Partners For Possibility" cluster of schools in the Mooiriver area, about an hour's drive from our school area. Former DBCS headmaster Andrew Stead will continue to run these workshops, which will now also be attended by CEO's and representatives of companies supporting the PfP programme in that area. The Drakensberg Boys Choir School will continue to host the Siyacula Festival and to offer mentorship and training for all conductors in the project. Focus groups in Maths, Science and English are being phased out as the teachers in our supported schools are well-capacitated w.r.t curricular content for these classes. The main need now is for interns to support them in classrooms that often have more than 60 learners with just one teacher. We will now commence fundraising for this need instead. 

We continue to monitor all expenses very carefully, and our financials received another clean, unqualified audit in 2019. We have introduced a timesheet system to keep track of the various activities in the schools, and an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in 2020 will require the school principals to sign off on these each month.  Please continue to support this worthy project. Your donations are invaluable and deeply appreciated. It would be remiss not to mention what an inspiration the Ndlovu Youth Choir has been ...thank you to Drakensberg Boys Choir School alumnus Ralf Schmidtt, who really has showed us how to dream!!

Mr Nathi Ndlovu of the Department of Education KZN
Mr Nathi Ndlovu of the Department of Education KZN
Conductor Supreme... Mrs Judith Hawthorne
Conductor Supreme... Mrs Judith Hawthorne
Learning to pronounce the words correctly
Learning to pronounce the words correctly
Setting actions to the words
Setting actions to the words
Focussing on the Conductor
Focussing on the Conductor

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