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Nemato Change a Life

by The Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
Nemato Change a Life
On-line maths class in progress
On-line maths class in progress

The introduction of stringent lock-down measures in South Africa at the end of March 2020 owing to the Covid 19 pandemic has curtailed virtually all of our activities over the past three months. No sporting activities have been permitted until recently, and throughout April everyone was confined to their places of residence.

As the lock-down measures have slowly been relaxed, we have to some extent been able to gradually redirect our energies in other directions. For example we implemented on-line maths classes for selected members although access to sufficient air time has been a challenge. Recently however the mobile phone network supplier Vodacom gave us a special data discount as a non prifit organisation for education. We also attended to some outstanding maintenance of our building.

The municipality had given us special permits to leave our residences and use our two vehicles to participate in a food parcel distribution initiative. To date we have delivered some 5 000 food parcels to those families in our community whose ability to earn a living have been most adversely affected by the lock-down.

Although we have studiously observed the lock-down measures, one of our members contracted the Covid 19 virus. Nevertheless we are happy to report that she is on the road to recovery. Now that participation in non-contact sports is allowed once more, we are able to resume our rowing programme. Although we have also re-commenced with our out-door gymnastics programme, we are still looking for a suitable indoor venue.

Installing fan during lock-down
Installing fan during lock-down
Packing food parcels during lock-down
Packing food parcels during lock-down

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Gymnast Siyabulela (R) and coach Lee (L) in Tokyo
Gymnast Siyabulela (R) and coach Lee (L) in Tokyo

Our new trampoline arrived in January and is making a big difference to our gymnasts. After participating in the World Championships in Tokyo as reported previously, Siyabulela and his coach Lee were invited back to Japan to a two-week training camp. Lack of exposure to international competition is a major disadvantage for South Africans owing to our relatively remote location, so this camp was a rare opportunity to gain experience and learn from the top gymnastic coaches and athletes.

On the academic front, Buhle has been accepted by the University of Johannesburg for an honours degree in Communications Theory. For us at Change a Life Nemato it is the ultimate reward when our members, who invariably come from the poorest backgrounds, go on to achieve at graduate and post-graduate levels, or to attain national and international representation at sport. Providing them with the opportunity to achieve what ever their potential allows them to, is after all what Change a Life Nemato is all about.

We have introduced the Tanks application developed by Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth as an aid to teach our members how to code. This application teaches all the basics of coding such as “if” statements and loops without the need for computers.

We saw an opportunity to improve the skills levels of our local pre-school teachers when spaces opened for a free, year-long course in Early Childhood Development (ECD) in a neighbouring town. We assisted in enrolling five teachers for whom we are providing transport with our mini-busses. ECD is acknowledged globally as being key in preparing our children for later life so we are delighted to be able to assist in bringing the necessary skills into our township.

Our members continue to enhance our centre step-by-step. In so doing they are learning basic artisanal skills such as carpentry, electrical wiring and so on. Having installed new LED lights in the centre, we are now a shining beacon in our neighbourhood at night, particularly when things go dark owing to the frequent power outages we experience.

Buhle showing his youthful rowing skills
Buhle showing his youthful rowing skills
Our Tanks computerless coding class
Our Tanks computerless coding class
Pre-school teachers attending ECD training
Pre-school teachers attending ECD training
Change a Life Nemato Centre at night
Change a Life Nemato Centre at night

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Siyabulela third from right in SA gymnastics team
Siyabulela third from right in SA gymnastics team

Following on from our feature in September, we are pleased to report that Siyabulela attended the 2019 Junior Trampoline World Championships in Tokyo a few days ago where he achieved a credible 11th place out of 40 participants in his age group in the double mini trampoline. As mentioned in our September report, Siyabulela’s achievement comes against his wholly inadequate training environment which makes it especially notable. Happily, our new trampoline is due to arrive from Germany shortly thanks to Change a Life and this will provide our young gymnasts with the incentive to reach greater heights.

The addition of the second Quantum mini-bus to our fleet, courtesy of Change a Life is having a major impact on the ability of our members to attend the variety of events which they need to participate in to improve their skills. Change a Life has also supplied our members with smart new jackets which they love to proudly show-off to the community. They are certainly the envy of the neighbourhood!

An aspect of our programme that we encourage and which adds tremendously to broadening the horizons of our members is visits by overseas volunteers.  We recently benefitted from an Australian volunteer whose coaching expertise in swimming, rowing and holistic children’s activities served to strengthen our available range of skills.

Our own Lifa recently return from a life changing year in Germany where he was a volunteer in a local school under a Lower Saxony exchange programme.  While in Germany Lifa discovered a passion for film and photography which he hopes to study at university next year.

Happy with our two Quantum mini-busses
Happy with our two Quantum mini-busses
Proudly showing off our new jackets
Proudly showing off our new jackets
Australian volunteer coach Pepita with our members
Australian volunteer coach Pepita with our members
Self portrait by our budding photographer Lifa
Self portrait by our budding photographer Lifa

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Siyabulela in action
Siyabulela in action

We enjoyed a number of highlights over recent months which ranged from the achievements of our members through to the acquisition of some key equipment, as well as the ongoing progress we are making with our Nemato Change a Life community centre.

Perhaps the outstanding achievement has been that of Siyabulela, our young champion trampolinist. At the age of 15 Siyabulela won the 2018 South African Junior Trampoline award. In addition, he earned the highest points of all participants, including seniors, on the double trampoline at the recent South African trials for entry to the Tokyo World Championships. Siyabulela’s achievement was all the more remarkable given that he couldn’t train on our own very dilapidated double mini trampoline. Nevertheless, Siyabulela will be representing South Africa at the Junior World Championships in Tokyo later this year. And, we are happy to report that with the financial assistance of Change a Life we have ordered a new, top level double-mini trampoline which we hope will arrive in time for Siyabulela to train ahead of his Tokyo challenge.

Owing to the range of activities we offer our members, and the lack of reliable public transport in our area, we face significant challenges in getting our members to their various events with our single mini-bus. Fortunately Change a Life has again come to our assistance with a second Toyota min-bus which will greatly improve our involvement in current and future activities.

Although not as prominent as our members’ sporting achievements, the progress our members have been making in mathematics through our after-school classes is probably more satisfying and perhaps even more important. Our approach to turning the process of learning and understanding mathematical principles into an exciting experience through using tricks and games is so successful that some of our members are able to out-perform other learners up to four grades further ahead at school.

Our second mini-bus
Our second mini-bus
An after-school maths class
An after-school maths class
The classroom at our community centre
The classroom at our community centre

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Doing the finishings to our Change a Life Centre
Doing the finishings to our Change a Life Centre

We are making good progress with our Nemato Change a Life centre. The inside walls have been painted as has our logo on an outside wall. We have also made and installed bookshelves. Plastering remains a work in progress however. We also received training on the maintenance of our waterless toilets. Following a spate of cable theft in the area we remained without internet for some time before upgrading to wireless internet and coming back on-line.

Owing to a lack of space we have donated our small skate boarding ramps to the community in Makhanda, a university town inland from where we are.  We now have enough space to set up our large half pipe ramp in our yard. We also officially inaugurated our skateboarding club at a meeting where we accepted the constitution and elected the founding board members.

Our handball club has grown from strength to strength. One of our members has been selected for the African Games and three members for the African Junior Beach Handball Championships.

The extreme poverty in our townships combined with the poor prospects for upliftment render our youth vulnerable to drug abuse which is rife in the area. While our programmes offer our members a better chance of success in life than many less fortunate members of the community, we are nevertheless not immune from the lure of drugs. We are therefore very pleased that Narconon has started offering their drugs awareness programme to the Nemato Change a Life members.

After a long break while our internet connection was down, our Skype maths classes presented by university students in Germany have resumed. These classes are offer to our grade 11 and 12 school-goers. We also offer numeracy classes based on the Rhodes University (located in Makhanda) Numeracy Chair programme for our youngest members as well as our in-house developed maths programme for students up to grade 10.

A local beach handball tournament
A local beach handball tournament
Preparing the half pipe skate boarding ramp
Preparing the half pipe skate boarding ramp
Skype maths lessons
Skype maths lessons
Narconon drugs awareness session
Narconon drugs awareness session

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Organization Information

The Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust

Location: Johannesburg - South Africa
Website:
Twitter: @uduplooy
Project Leader:
Ursula Du Plooy
Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa
$20,003 raised of $20,000 goal
 
7 donations
$0 to go
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