Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa

by African Angels
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Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Help us educate 156 African Angels in South Africa
Siyanqoba Mentors
Siyanqoba Mentors

Earlier this year one of the mothers at African Angels, and a friend, was murdered in a domestic violence incident, that rocked me, and still does. I have had, and have, a lucky life, one full of opportunity, kindness, and love. Yet I live in one of the most violent countries in the world where 62% of kids grow up with absent fathers, and 8 women are murdered every day.

I'll just let that sink in for a bit.

8 women. A day.

I also founded a school where many of the children live in an environment seeing violence, abuse, dysfunction and going without (insert food, services, a toilet of any kind, sometimes love and kindness) every single day. My friend's death made me think - what are we doing with our boys? Is education enough? How do they learn to be better men?

Recently, in the community hall, we launched Siyanqoba (see-a-n-click-orba) that means 'we are victorious'. In collaboration with The Character Company,men in our community who are positive male role models will implement The Character Company's curriculum and meet with our boys every week, helping them to grow into men who live the five honorable values - courage, kindness, self-discipline, honesty and respect.

Not one of these men are paid to be a mentor. They are involved because they want our boys to grow up to be better men. My work is to see our mentors up skilled, developed and supported so they can continue investing into our boys.

I am privileged to have such fine men in our community who will join me on this journey of growing better men. We are taking baby steps, supported by The Character Company team. It won't bring my friend back, but maybe some time in the future, we will have more men who live the five values, than those who don't.

Your support of an Angel at African Angels supports SIyanqoba, as all the children will benefit, and ultimatley so will their community.

Thank you for investing in the future of our boys, and girls.

Lou

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Chris and Debbie  - African Angels Volunteers 2019
Chris and Debbie - African Angels Volunteers 2019

African Angels Independent School: Why we came, why we came back, why we will come back again.

In 2017, with retirement as teachers in the UK looming, we knew that we wanted to use some of our new-found freedom to make a positive contribution to the community in Chintsa, which we had come to know well through several previous visits. We contacted Friends of Chintsa, the local NGO, for suggestions as to where we might have most impact.

The immediate response was that our skill set was best suited to African Angels. The offer of our services was quickly accepted so, in September, we duly presented ourselves at the school.

Chris taught some Geography, Life Orientation and Technology lessons in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-7) and shared teaching and learning strategies with teachers who were keen to make the best use of limited resources and try different approaches as educators. By teaching these lessons, class teachers had the opportunity to spend time on other administrative tasks, as non-contact time during the school day was not part of the timetables, or they could choose to observe, as some did. Debbie worked with a recently-qualified teacher in Foundation Phase, offering support to some children in the class who had additional needs, as well as doing reading age assessments with the Grade 1s and 2s. The library was also given an overhaul, with recent donations being sorted through and incorporated and replacing old, unsuitable and tatty books on the shelves.

During our 3 weeks at African Angels, we were made to feel so welcome and our efforts so appreciated that it was an easy decision to make plans to return; the only question was when and in February 2019 we were back.

We spent another fruitful few weeks at the school. This time, as well as teaching some lessons, Chris assisted with the redrafting of some policies and circulated and analysed a Staff Welfare Questionnaire, as the leadership team are keen to ensure they are as mindful of the wellbeing of the staff as they are of the pupils. Debbie did a reading assessment with each pupil in Grades 1, 2 and 3, which will serve as a benchmark from which to measure progress during the year. She spent the rest of the time with a Grade 3 class, teaching some English and Maths and hearing the children read and helping the teacher to plan the reading scheme order for the next term.

We care passionately about this school and plans are already in hand to return next February/March. The staff are totally committed to the stated vision for each child to reach their full potential and work tirelessly to achieve this. The care of the pupils does not end when they leave African Angels but often continues through the efforts of Lou Billett and Sharon Edworthy to get bursaries and scholarships for pupils to access carefully selected high schools and some of the first Angels now attend some of the best schools in South Africa. For the current students, the school has now expanded to offer Grade 8 places.

In addition to the school, the Learning Centre in Chintsa East also provides other facilities for the whole community with free WiFi and reading books. The children can also attend the after school reading project there which helps them improve their literacy skills.

All this has been achieved through donations from businesses and many individuals in South Africa and across the world and all those contributing can be assured their money is being put to very good use every day. 

Chris and Debbie Burnett

Chris in the classroom - 2017
Chris in the classroom - 2017
Debbie with younger African Angels
Debbie with younger African Angels

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Dear family, friends, supporters and donors,

You all know that African Angels is important to me, and many of you have joined me in the past by donating to and supporting African Angels.  We are relentless in providing the parents of Chintsa with a school for their children.  The inequality in South Africa is staggering. 

If you don't have money, your child goes to a public school, and in our area, this means you receive a substandard level of education.  African Angels disrupts the inequality that poor schooling creates. 

The end of the financial year is looming.  For South Africa it is 28 February.  Perhaps that's not your end of financial year, but paying tax is one certainty in life, wherever in the world you live.  Donating to African Angels can help you minimise the tax you pay, at the same time as educating a child.

I need your help.  I am directly seeking donations for African Angels, AND asking you to forward this letter to 5 of your friends and asking them to donate to us.

Here are three reasons why I hope you will support my request: 

1. The majority of South African children cannot read.  
78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any language (PIRLS 2016)

2. The majority of South African children cannot perform basic math. 
61% of Grade 5 learners could not add and subtract whole numbers, have no understanding of multiplication by one-digit numbers and cannot solve simple word problems, i.e. they cannot do basic math.  (TIMSS-N 2015)

3. Nearly half of South African schools are wastelands.  
45% of South African schools could be described as “cognitive wastelands”, where no single learner can read and make inferences.

For the children of Chintsa, African Angels is the only chance they have to get a quality primary school education giving them a fighting chance to break out of poverty cycle - for themselves, their families and South Africa.

Click here to watch why African Angels is so important.

Thank you in advance for your contribution, and for sharing.

Lou Billett
African Angels

Lou with Academic Achiever Milisani
Lou with Academic Achiever Milisani
Lou and school co-funder Sharon Edworthy
Lou and school co-funder Sharon Edworthy

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A delighted Linako and her teacher, Sharon
A delighted Linako and her teacher, Sharon

Every year our girls sit the entrance examination for acceptance into the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The girls must be in Grade 7 (13 years old) and be from a disadvantaged background.  Being accepted into OWLAG has been a goal of ours since starting the school in 2012.  The subsequent recruitment is rigorous and thorough, as the school takes only the brightest girls from across South Africa, from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

We are delighted to announce that Linako, a grade 7 learner at African Angels, has been accepted into OWLAG for 2019.  We are over the moon for Linako and the opportunities a fantastic high school education will open up for her.  

Linako has attended African Angels since 2012.  Thank you for supporting African Angels, that has seen her receive a quality education, that has enabled her to succeed in her quest to attend the Oprah School!

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Recreating their 1000s charts in a class comp.
Recreating their 1000s charts in a class comp.

As we anxiously await the arrival of Viwe, our newly appointed Grade 3 teacher in Term 4, who is relocating from Johannesburg with her daughter Yanga, I thought it would be foolish to try and find a substitute teacher for just one term, and rather than have a teacher change for a term, and then a teacher change for the last term, I could teach Grade 3's.  In South Africa, Grade 3's are 9-10 year olds.  We have a class of 18 of them.  Who I love dearly, but I had no idea they had super powers.  

For the first 5 weeks I had a wonderful student teacher, Val Blattler from Switzerland, who had convinced her university that she could do her practical teaching in South Africa at African Angels.  Val was wonderful, and opened the class each morning for the first 30 minutes of the day. I spent the holidays preparing lessons, and sorting our resources, compiling workbooks and getting school maintenance done.  I was prepared - or so I thought!

Our grade 3 class has 18 children in it.  Like all classes they vary in ability, personality and home situations.  Every teacher wants to do their best for their children, but nobody tells you that children have an inate ability to absorb every bit of energy you have so that you are completely and utterly exhausted at the end of every day. I started eating the reward treats in the afternoons to get some energy.  I've run two restaurants and I've never been so tired. Hats off to teachers who teach day in and day out - you all deserve every single holiday you get.

I loved my time in Grade 3.  I'm not sure the kids loved having me as their teacher as much. I'm a hard taskmaster - very firm but very fair.  Sibanye told me he 'wasn't going to miss me at all'.  There were no miraculous improvements overnight - obviously my magic wand wasn't working. :)  But there is something very special when you show children something for the first time - we studied volcanoes and the kids saw videos of volcanoes erupting; Pam another volunteer made one with them and they grasped the concept that lava is melted rock once they could see it creeping down the side of a hill.  Olona wanted to know what happened to the sharks if it fell on top of them into the ocean.  Those light bulb moments and enquiring minds are very special.

The kids at African Angels live in pretty compromised situations- most have no running water or indoor plumbing in their homes; many have no electricity; there is no garbage collection in their township.  All are financially disadvantaged; many are partial or full orphans, and all are exposed to dysfunctional social situations like alcohol and drug abuse.  I know all of this, but I still had reality check moments.  I was marking English one night after school and I had asked the kids to pick five of their spelling words and make a sentence with them.  One of the spelling words was ground.  The sentence the learner made was 'I poo on the ground.'  Reality check 101 right there. We have flushing, clean toilets at school, with toilet paper.  Like many in her township, this little girl has no runing water at home, no indoor toilet, there are no public toilets, so she, and many others, are relegated to using the ground as their toilet.  

Attending African Angels means that all the kids in my class, and all those at school, will have the primary school education to access better employment and educational opportunities in the future.  Not all will fly as high as Indie, our first high school bursary recipient to a fantastic girls' high school, but all will emerge able to chart their futures and access opportunity, because they have a solid educational grounding.  Largely thanks to you, our donors and supporters.  Thank you!

Peer to peer learning
Peer to peer learning
Excited boys about their soccer ball donation
Excited boys about their soccer ball donation
Kids receiving donated jerseys from Jumbo Clothing
Kids receiving donated jerseys from Jumbo Clothing

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Organization Information

African Angels

Location: East London, Eastern Cape - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @angels_african
Project Leader:
Lou Billett
East London, Eastern Cape South Africa
$168,806 raised of $250,000 goal
 
1,552 donations
$81,194 to go
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